One of the biggest things going on in our life right now is our family of two becoming a family of three. Mary has written here about the progress of little baby boy, and shared some of her experience and I have not yet.
Partially I haven’t written anything because it’s hard to make a blog post worth reading that just says: I am so frikkity-frackin’ excited! BUT, for the last week or so I’ve realized I have things to say about what it’s like to be an expectant father, for me. So here it is and none too soon as Mary and Baby A are kicking off the third trimester.
Being an expectant father is the most wonderful yet terrifying thing I have ever experienced. It’s like riding in the passenger seat of a race car and you’re in the lead going into the final lap. And you’re gonna be like, huh, how is it anything like that? It totally is.
1. It’s a huge, thrilling, and terrifying moment (can you imagine wiping out at 200mph as you go into a turn, surrounded by a dozen other guys also flying close to 200?) BUT it’s also totally out of your hands. In that car, you know you’ve got the best technology there’s ever been. You have advanced carbon polymers, flame-retardant suits, guys standing by with fire extinguishers, and a whole host of other things to keep you safe, but you’re still taking your life in your hands. Pregnancy is like this too, while our little guy is still 3 months away and just over two lbs, if he came into world, the odds are pretty good by now that medical advances would see him safely through. But even with incredible advances in neonatal medicine, there’s a still a lot that can go wrong, and if you aren’t a just little bit scared of it, you don’t understand what’s happening.
2. Your pit crew means everything, and you had better be able to count on them. Mary and I are blessed to have a great OB/Gyn practice here in Columbus, but the biggest gift is that we have one particular doctor we just TRUST. And when you learn that how you eat can affect the child’s genetic (epigenetic to be particular for you science geeks) predisposition to obesity, when you realize taking proper vitamins can mean the difference in your child having spins bifida or not, when the advice on everything from cold cuts to tylenol goes both ways… You get a little antsy about getting quality medical advice. And the absolute worst part? No one will tell you X, Y or Z is safe, but everyone will say: doing some everyday innocuous thing may possibly cause a tiny risk of totally ruining your baby’s development so just don’t do that, dont risk it. After about the 1000th warning I heard about eating sushi, dying hair, or exercising, I realized the plan must be for her to sit in a kiddy pool with water wings eating only vegetable smoothies for nine months. So we found a doctor we trust, we listen to his advice and we don’t sweat the small stuff. Which brings me to the biggest similarity.
3. If you don’t trust your driver, it’s going to be a long ride. I wouldn’t get into a race car with just anybody, even if they assure me they’re ‘a really good driver’. I have always wanted a family and a big one, so I knew I needed a partner who I can trust implicitly. Mission accomplished. There are many areas where I trust Mary more than I trust myself. Because the thing is, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t bring a child into the world myself, the process doesn’t work this way. It’s my baby in there too, and without the knowledge that my wife has impeccable judgement and is going to make the very best choices she can, waiting for my son to finish baking would be a lot more nerve-wracking. But as it is, when Mary orders fish on a menu, or books a flight in the third trimester, I know that she’s doing so with Baby A’s health and safety in mind.
4. There is a big prize when you cross the finish line. I’ll spare you my vision of my son’s future greatness, but whenever we hit a rough turn or worry about blowing a tire on this race to baby, I think about how it’s going to feel when the doctor hands me my son for the first time. Just seeing his little face on the ultrasound and hearing his heart beat captures my mind and amazes my soul. We’re not even across the finish line of this pregnancy (which is really just another starting line) but I already know parenthood is the ride of my life.