Unlike the “maternal clock” or internal instinct that propels many women to have children, for the majority of my life I was somewhat indifferent to the idea of children. It’s not like I didn’t want them, but I didn’t WANT them.
Now, at age 31, I’m expecting.
My wife B and I married on New Years Eve 2009. She’s a nurse, I’m a barista with a music degree. We have a dog, Benson. We recently bought a home in Sacramento, CA. We don’t actually have a picket fence, but when I see our life on paper, it seems we’re primed for children. Educated, steady income, home owners, pet parents. We always wanted to be prepared, so it was easy to put off children while we were still establishing ourselves. But a few months after buying our home, the question of if became a question of when.
We officially began trying early in 2014. Unbeknownst to me, I was completely oblivious to the realities of conception. I mean, until then I went my entire life taking every possible precaution not to reproduce. So naturally I assumed it was easy to do.
In fact, only 30% get pregnant the first month, 59% get pregnant within three months, and 80% get pregnant within six months. And though it takes the majority of couples more than a few months to conceive, it didn’t make it any easier emotionally. After every negative test or new cycle, there was disappointment. But if I’m being truthful, it affected B much more than it did me. At first, I didn’t understand why. I mean, I wanted it too, didn’t I?
I soon realized our perspectives were completely different, and will remain so throughout the entire pregnancy. Here’s why:
For men, pregnancy is spectacle. It’s observatory. It’s not your body. There’s an inherit detachment that’s unavoidable. However many times you ask, it’s just not possible to know exactly everything a woman is feeling during pregnancy. For them, pregnancy is physical, and therefore more primal. It’s emotional and personal. Things were happening, or in this case, not happening to B’s body. I almost got the feeling she thought she was failing. That somehow she felt at fault for not conceiving.
This inherit detachment is something I felt I needed to address early on. After I came to terms with not fully understanding B’s emotions at all times, my role became much more defined, if only to myself. I am a supporting role and she is the lead. I am in service to her, helping her through a very personal and physical experience. Of course, it’s an experience for me, too. But mine will be different than hers. And that’s okay.
One thing you should know about me: I like shoes. I really like shoes (thanks, mom). Though I’m not one to camp out overnight for the latest Jordans, I’ve got a closet full of sneakers, too many to rationally justify. So when I came home from work one Wednesday evening there was a teal Nike shoebox on our dining room table. B stood by casually.
“Oooh, what’s this?” I asked.
The box looked small. It was small. I opened the box. Inside was a pregnancy test. A positive pregnancy test. And it was resting atop a pair of infant Nike SBs.
It was one of those moments in which time slows down. I was suddenly confronted with my true feelings. Forced to finally answer definitively the question I’d wondered for so long: Do I really want to be a Dad?
The answer is Yes. Wholly and unequivocally Yes.
I couldn’t remember another time I’d been so immediately flooded with pure emotion, pure joy. I finally looked at B. She had tears in her eyes. I realized I did, too.
“Really?” I said.
“Yes,” she said.
I recently heard a story on NPR about the growing popularity of “daddy blogs” and how they are helping redefine modern fatherhood. It said there were 2 million stay-at-home dads in 2012 (nearly double the number from 1989) and that fathers now spend triple the amount of time with their children than a generation ago.
I thought this was incredibly cool. And it’s a movement I’d like to be a part of.
It’s currently Week 15. We’re due March 2015. I invite you to join B and I on our journey. You can follow this blog by entering your e-mail at the bottom of this page. And of course, I’d love to hear from you. If you feel so inclined, please introduce yourself in the comments below.