Happy Father’s Day
One of the most fascinating aspects of my pregnancy so far has surprisingly had very little to do with me, and everything to do with my husband. Watching him navigate impending fatherhood has been sweet, emotional, and at times downright shocking. Let’s be honest – the physical aspect of pregnancy and the experience of it is obviously dominated by the person going through it – as it should. But while that needs to be celebrated and respected, it left me curious about how impending parents who aren’t the ones that are pregnant deal with the emotions and the impending changes their lives are going to go through.
Coming from a large family, my husband always wanted kids. He didn’t (and doesn’t yet!) have a lot of newborn baby experience and has mentioned more than once he’s a little nervous to hold our baby for the first time. Like so many of us, a lot of his first thoughts about the baby are worries: will we be good parents? Is our house safe and sound for the baby? Are the products we are buying good enough for the baby? He’s been very engaged in every doctor’s appointment, test result, and product purchase – especially the gear like strollers, cribs and carseats. He hasn’t said this in so many words, but I feel like his heightened interest in what purchase decisions I’ve been making (as our family’s baby expert) is an attempt at calming his fears – the more he learns and experiences, the more he feels ready to step into his new role as Dad.
After we experienced our initial excitement about being pregnant, the weight of the responsibility for this vulnerable human began to set in. What was once temporarily fine for two grown adults (ie. windows that ice over in the winter, being a bit loose with the monthly budget, etc.) is not fine when there is a baby added to the equation! My husband started to feel the pressure start to settle on his shoulders as the reality of being his family’s provider for at least that first year began to sink in. For a while, the fears started to overtake the excitement and the joy – there was so many things we didn’t ever think about before, and lots of stuff people don’t tell you about (a blog post in itself!). But that all changed at the first ultrasound.
When he saw that grainy silhouette of our tiny little baby, for him, seeing was believing, and believing was empowering. The scary uncertainty transformed into exciting anticipation of the unknown. He was certain this was happening, that it was real, and that we could do this because that baby was no longer a theoretical concept but a visible reality that we could see – that we could love.
From there, his excitement has only continued to rise. From seeing my stomach transform from a slight belly to a clearly defined baby bump completely blew his mind. At first my changes were only visible or evident to me – since he wasn’t going through some of the subtle, yet still overwhelming changes I was experiencing, his reality of the experience was much different from mine in the early days. Now that he’s able to see and experience the pregnancy for himself – especially when the baby kicks – he’s able to perceive just how much has changed, and how much will change as we go forward.
Now as we prepare for baby’s arrival and start gathering the gear, I see his excitement hit yet another level. The minute the box for the stroller hit the ground, it was getting ripped open and that sucker was getting built and taken for a spin around the kitchen. As our ordered products start to come in, I’m reminded of a powerful moment we shared after our initial research visit to a baby specialty store. He turned to me in the car, having had his first experience looking at a baby store’s offering and said, “Nothing else matters now – it’s all about this baby.” And while of course we will care about other things in life, there is nothing that will ever come first for the rest of our lives. This delicate, dependent little human currently tap-dancing on my bladder will always and forever be the main reason why we do anything.
Perhaps a Dad’s role can tend to be limited in the initial stages of our lives. Perhaps he doesn’t get to experience the kicks as early as pregnant mothers do, and maybe they don’t get to experience what it’s like to grow a human in their bodies. But they get to be excited about building the stroller, and they get to pour over the safety requirements for the crib. They get to (usually) be the first to see the baby as it enters the world – however it enters the world. They get the chance to cut the umbilical cord and can be the one to write the official name on the birth certificate – two things that will provide the baby with independence and identity.
Nothing can match the intense nature of a woman experiencing pregnancy – it is an emotional and physical journey that nothing and no one can ever prepare you for fully. But soon enough, both parents will be navigating parenting together, equally, and sharing fears, doubts, highs, lows, and everything in between. So, to all the impending dads out there, thank you for your patience, your 3:00 am craving runs, and your ability to share this experience with us – even when you can’t commiserate with the daily kicks to the bladder.
Happy Father’s Day! (this includes Fathers-to-be!)
The Pregnant President