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A Year of { pregnant dad }

One of my favorite posts to write this year sprouted from one bloody fall, one toddler with stitches, and one sudden understanding of just what lengths a good dad will go to for his boy. I hope you enjoy this post for its sweetness and despite its blood and gore. Be sure to leave a link to some favorite posts you’ve read this year!

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The Time Your Dad Was Pregnant

Dear Child,

     Today you visit the scary, sanitized doctor’s room again to have your stitches removed. You earned your first badge of boyhood last week in a fall that left your sweet eye sliced and later stitched. This morning, as your father swirled around the house in an anxious tizzy, I spotted myself in you. With eyebrows scrunched and lips slanted like a heavy seesaw, you met his forlorn face with a facial statement of your own: “I done cut my eye open, cowboy. What’s your problem?”. I’ve watched in mesmerized pride as you have mastered this skeptical glare in just one year of life. For a boy whose self so fiercely mimics his paternal side, I smile each time I see your features morph into this sassy expression. You are, no doubt, my boy.

   It was within the first few hours of breathing air that you smelled trouble. An uncomfortable doctor entered the hospital room. She blushed beet red as she informed us that “alternative tools” had to be used in the circumcision procedure due to “abnormally large” baby genitalia. I listened with the sole concern that you (and all your man parts) were safe and healthy. Your father beamed as if he’s just won the world’s Manliest Man Competition. Your first regular bowel movements were met with a dad’s elated “WE. ARE. POOPINGGGG!”. As your soft gums were ravaged by cruel, new teeth, it was your father who said, “Our gums are sore. Teeth hurt“. “I love to walk. Walk. Walk. Walk,” he sang as you teetered foot to ground for the very first time. When your fine, baby hair grew into what can only be described as a Junior Mullet, your father gushed to the women in curlers that this was his “very first haircut”.  You, along with a comb-wielding hairdresser, eyed this nearly bald man with serious doubt. Just as I walked this path before you, you came to realize that your very grown father mistakenly thought he was reaching your milestones, your highs and lows, instead of you.

We have much great hair. We dress all kinds of cute.

    Today I offer you my only explanation of your dear dad’s chronic vicariousness. It started, you see, when you were more concerned with amniotic fluid than Cheerios. It was the time your dad was pregnant.

     Until the news of you, your father was a typical man. If I had a headache, he would quite compassionately state, “That sucks”. His sense of empathy stopped at sympathy. As I settled into the idea of growing, birthing, and raising a human being, your dad adjusted in his own way. Namely, he slowly but surely took on the woman-led world of pregnancy as his own. We went for long walks after work, winding through scenic farmland. As months wore on it was your father who would request a “breather”. I stopped, patiently waiting to resume our leisurely stroll, as your dad rubbed the tender spot on his lower back and attempted to regulate his heartbeat with the he-he-who swoosh, the breathing technique we’d learned during our research of What To Do When You Have No Idea What To Do: Baby Edition. I experienced no major cravings during my pregnancy. I liked simple foods like eggs and fruit. Your father, however, would announce that he just had to have pizza and hot wings or his body would forever shut down. It should come as no surprise then that I lost 17 pounds during pregnancy. Your father found them. After one particularly ravenous night of pizza feasting, I gripped my chest. I was just coming to understand the flaming intensity of heartburn. Your father rushed to the store, bought a jumbo bottle of Tums, burst through the door to our home and..and…took a couple out for himself. “This heartburn is killing me,” I whined as I burped up fire. “I know, right?,” Daddy missed the point.

     After a long day at work, I pulled my giant belly up three flights of stairs to the apartment. My nose (which becomes equipped with superhuman sniffing abilities when “with child”. I once yelled at a woman for smoking…around the corner and two hundred people away from me.) writhed in the fumes. I found your father painting the walls to your room bright green…to match the bedding he’d picked out, ordered, and then placed on the crib which he managed to construct the same afternoon. I smiled and closed the nursery door. It seems your father enjoyed the Nesting Phase enough for the both of us.  Every day of those nine months was another opportunity for me to witness the wiring of his brain. From his excitement for the state-of-the-art breast pump (“Dude! This thing has double suction!”) to his fascination with learning how to perfectly fold baby onesies (“No, Tori. The arms fold this way”), the reason behind his crazed enthusiasm for all things baby became abundantly clear: Helplessness.

Daddy Does Chic

       It all made sense when the word helplessness entered the room. There I was, pregnant without knowing what to expect. There he was, watching his partner carry a child, unable to possibly know what that entails, and feeling downright awful that he couldn’t share the load. The best he knew to do was put himself in my shoes, my belly, my heartburn, my back ache. His detached sympathy bloomed into empathy. He was not so much trying to steal my thunder as he was making himself available to take the shock of a lightning bolt for me.

    This discovery occurred about two hours before you were born. Your dad’s face grew pale and sweaty. He paced the hospital room, coaching himself through jittery breaths. Your mom, Grand Duchess of Tact, laughed at her inability to move her legs and took bets from nurses and family members for how long the next contraction would last. She earned five bucks and an epidural. As your father counted through pushes, I realized the sum of the whole. All of his heartburn, his overwhelming cravings, the sore back, the obsessive decorating, and, most bizarre, his uncanny affection for the breast pump were gestures from him to me. If actions hold words, his nine-months of behavior boiled down to one very sweet sentiment: I am so proud of you. I would do this for you if I could.

The part where one is scared shitless… and in love.

       Take this knowledge of your dad’s inner workings with you today. Clasp your daddy‘s hand to soothe his worry and discomfort. Flash a smile afterwards to let him know the worst is over.  He knows he is not getting stitches removed just as he knew he was not, in fact,the person tasked to deliver you into this world. What I know about your father, though, is that he feels your pain all the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Love,                                                                      

Mom (who also helped get you here)

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Share some dirt about your 2011 below. You’ve had a year of {what}?

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15 thoughts on “A Year of { pregnant dad }

  1. This was an amazing tribute to Dad (and dads all over!) I swear my husband shared plenty from my pregnancy too. As a joke, I even snapped a picture of him holding his huge belly and standing next to my son’s crib.

Ramble on, little rambler...

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