Having tried for over one year to conceive - enduring all manner of unpleasant treatments for my strong-willed wife - I was, of course, feeling elated. Relief, uncertainty, joy, questions, and confusion also flooded through me, the latter quite possibly down to being half awake and not entirely convinced that the whole thing wasn't a particularly vivid dream.
Tears, tea, and talking to my wife brought home the reality of the situation: I'm going to be somebody's Dad.
The More Things Change...
The first thing that surprised me was the disconnect between the enormity of the news and how little it actually changes things, in the short term at least. We couldn't really tell people outside of close family for a month or two, so no great hype built up around our life-changing event. We had a lot to learn, but nine months is a significant amount of study time (please, remind me of that one week before the due date!). Even our eating habits didn't need to be adjusted that much until the second trimester. My wife doesn't drink much and neither of us smoke, so there were no addictions to suddenly break.
In some ways, at least practically, this was business as usual. Mental preparation and not too much else.
In the absence of practical steps, I always turn to research. My better half Jen has a similar reaction, so we both felt a trip to the Borders fire-sale to be in order. The Brooklyn Central Library has since been raided on multiple occasions since that day, having spurred us both to finally register for library cards. Then we turned to the online resources like webzines, blogs, Twitter chats... information overload!
Between the pregnancy planning books, online medical articles, mommy blogger advice, and myriad other information sources on offer for parents-to-be, it could be argued that over-reading is almost as troublesome as under-reading. Sure, there are some crucial things to know - how much to budget, safety tips, and how you’ll never get to sleep again - but the unabated hypochondria of the Internet age can also kick in, with self diagnosis of every potential health concern. A fine line to walk indeed.
Nonetheless, forewarned is usually forearmed. Given the choice, I'd rather understand potential risks and rule them out, than remain oblivious. In the case of new parents, I'm very much of the mind that ignorance is not bliss.
Man In The Mirror
In addition to thinking about me having a child, I've also spent a lot of time reflecting on the child having me. It's a strange thing to contemplate, how a person that doesn't yet exist as a person will come to view you. I find these thoughts guiding my decisions more and more as the pregnancy becomes more 'real'.
Inevitably, there will be many more trials, triumphs, and tribulations to come before my wee one arrives...and then, I'm told, the "real fun" begins! Despite the knowing smiles with which that phrase has been delivered to me, I can't recall anticipating any event quite this fervently since my wedding day.
And for all the reading I'll have done and guidance that I've sought, one piece of advice will be at the forefront of my mind:
"Just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, everything changes and you realize that you still know nothing.”