November 20, 2012. We had just awakened after spending the night at a hotel in Lincoln, IL en route back home to God’s Country. Wife hadn’t been feeling well and was in the bathroom. I had gone downstairs, only to discover that the fitness center was flush with middle-aged businessmen and my endeavors toward losing the extra baggage I’ve accumulated were thwarted.
So I went back upstairs to our room, opened the door and started getting clothes out for the final leg of our journey. That was when I heard the gasp, a shocked yawp the likes of which I’ve never heard come from wife before. I’m sure the rest of the floor did, too.
She had taken a pregnancy test. It came back positive.
We’ve had struggles with infertility for several years now. Early on, my wife joined a cabal of vloggers in YouTube’s trying to conceive (TTC) community. I had urged caution, because a community of supportive fellow strugglers could easily become a millstone: what happens when they conceive and we don’t? What happens if we do? She forged ahead, and I’m glad she did. Some of those who have journeyed with her the longest—years of doubt and wondering, frustration and angst—became some of her biggest fans. We had decided to put that to the side and focus on taking care of ourselves, putting ourselves in the best position for the day when we could. So much for that.
[EDITORIAL ASIDE: And, as someone who has been a part of sharing in that struggle, I will never try to give advice to relax and stop worrying about it. It can’t be done, and I never want to patronize someone that way. It’s no better than telling the bereaved that God has a plan, or the single that the right one is out there. How insulting can a person be? I digress.]
We stood there in the hotel room, dumbfounded at what had just happened. She demanded I go get other pregnancy tests, so I jumped into some clothes and drove down the local major national drug store chain at 7.15 in the morning. Apparently, in Lincoln, no one gets sick before 8. So I ended up at the local major big box retailer. Being quite unfamiliar with the lay of the family planning land, I stood there, awkwardly looking at the boxes. (I still don’t know if I should be more embarrassed for myself being sheepish about being there, or someone of the male persuasion who isn’t.) I grabbed a package, held the box in a way where the contents I held would be away from others’ view, and went to the checkout.
I put my item on the conveyor and told the cashier—thankfully, a sweet, compassionate middle-aged lady—and confessed that it doesn’t get more cliché than this. She looked, laughed and asked if this would be my first. I said yes, and that it had taken some time and struggle to get to this point. She volunteered that she and her husband had their own struggles to have their one. I paid and she wanted me to come back and let her know for sure. I regret to say that I didn’t, but we did go 3-for-3 on the tests. So, yes, Linda, we are!
I’m going to be a father. And there is something to that talk about the glow a person has when one finds out she (or he, fathers are, or should be, just as luminescent) is going to be a parent.
The car trip home was filled with continued dumbfounded silence. What just happened? We still ask ourselves that.
For most of my life, I’ve been the youngest: the youngest child in my family, the youngest cousin (until 14), the youngest in school, the youngest in college. That mentality has always stuck with me, for better or worse, and lingers even now as a fully-fledged adult. I wondered what it was like to be a parent, to grow old, to watch my older brother turn into a husband and father and into our father; to eventually turn into a husband and father and, inevitably, my father.
And even with the indicator from that fateful pee stick, my worldview shifted radically. I was thinking about getting new bookshelves, a few new records, a new dining set to replace our worn-out table and chairs. Suddenly, I look like the weirdo in the baby section, looking at stocking our diaper reserves and beginning to review prices and analyses on minivans. No, really, ma’am, I do belong here looking at rompers and onesies. I’m done for, and I’m entirely OK with that. (Although I’m still going to get that set of nice headphones. Too bad I won’t be able to enjoy them until I’m 50.)
Wife broke the news on her TTC social networking channel early on, which caused her page to erupt with excitement. This past weekend, we made the announcement to her extended family over Sunday dinner and then told our network of friends online, which then followed suit and blew up our pages, cell phones and I do believe that my mother still is visibly giddy about the news three weeks after the fact.
And now, I’m following up my greatest success with this humble cranny of the interwebs with my good news. It seemed fitting.
December 4, 2012. We went for our first doctor’s visit, and our doctor scored us an appointment later that afternoon for an ultrasound at an advanced imaging center across town. After a long day of trucking ourselves from one end of Mecca to the other, we finally went in for her ultrasound. In that dimly-lit room, and after the first scan failed to show anything conclusive, we waited—impatiently, hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman’s full bladder—for the right conditions (and tech) to look at our future.
Upon further review, the tech looked, perplexed, into the glow of the monitor. I, being the impatient and opportunist father with the proper vantage point, peeked over. The glow of life was there on the screen, healthy and six weeks along. And that aura of excitement for being a parent was, in that moment, eclipsed by the glow of science and technology. Our tech turned the monitor to us. There was no feedback, and no mistake about what we were seeing. Life, in all its quirkiness and beauty—and, sometimes, a twisted sense of cosmic humor—there for us to behold.