These days my life has become largely about our pregnancy. I keep telling people that this is the most exciting thing that’s happened in my life. I’ve had a lot of incredible experiences, but having a kid is going to be the top. I just know it.
The other day I was reading pregnancy and started reading a bit about miscarriages. You figure it’s good to be educated about pregnancy, since that’s where we’re at, and that involves miscarriages, especially during the first trimester. I don’t know about you, but it scares me a bit. In the medical community it’s called “spontaneous abortion”. Knowing that didn’t make me feel any better!
There’s a tiny bit of fear that lingers. Deb and I are a month into our pregnancy, so not out of the forest. And she just turned 35. That’s a milestone in child bearing, as I’m sure you’re aware. We’ve never had a miscarriage, but we’ve also never had a child.
It’s really that I’m just so excited, so hopeful, that I don’t know where I’d be if this little one doesn’t make it somehow. To anyone out there who has had a miscarriage, my heart goes out to you and them.
I know the ‘odds’ are in our favor, but you just wish there weren’t any odds at all! It doesn’t seem fair that we could get pregnant and lose those dreams. My heart breaks a little bit thinking about all the expecting parents out there who have hoped and dreamed and lost.
This just has to work out … this little one has to live.
When you first start telling people that you are having a baby just about everyone asks you same question. It’s lovely, because you get to gush about how excited you are about having a baby. But is the question a good one to ask? And should we be spending so much time thinking about names in the first place?
When you think about it, choosing a name, in the grand scheme of things, really isn’t very important. In the very least it is not as important as we make it out to be.
Debbie and I have spent many hours ruminating on names for our child. Before we were even pregnant we thought about names. We’ve got a shortlist of names that we love. At this point we have ideas for both boys and girls … that of course is because we can’t even tell yet. We’ve only been pregnant for 5 weeks, if you’re generous.
Though a part of me hopes that we’re abnormal in this focusing on the right name, I imagine we’re being pretty normal about this actually. “Normal” being what the majority of people do.
But why the name?
Of all the things to focus on … surely there are more important things than the name of our child. For example, how will we help them grow into ethical human beings? Individuals who acknowledge the value in human and nonhuman experience and suffering. How will we discipline them? How can I build my patience threshold, (because I might just need it … once or twice)? How/Is it possible to help a child to sleep through the night? What should I know about brain development and child psychology? What’s the best birthing process? What are the really important things my kids should be learning? What are the keys to a healthy pregnancy? When will I make time to learn sign language so I can talk with my baby sooner? Anyway, you get the point. These poignant questions could go on for days! And I for one need to think, talk, and read about them to find good answers.
We should be focusing on other things besides the name. We should be preparing for being great parents EVERY single day! We’re going to have a BABY! You don’t just study the night before!!!!
Though we have our parenting ‘instincts’, we also have our parenting and personal baggage. It’s not enough to just swear that I’m never going to mini lecture or use bribes or punishments. I need to be ready. We all do.
When you think about it too a name isn’t even permanent. Our son or daughter could technically change their name when they’re 18. They can’t change the languages they learned when they didn’t even know they were learning languages. They can’t change how we helped them learn about values, self confidence, or family. And again, we could go on for days.
But what about the name?
We could go look up (in Google of course) most popular baby names in 2012. Sophia is number 1. Beautiful name, by the way, but ‘we can’t have our daughter being called Sophia S. in class. That’s silly. So what’s number 59? Boom, she has her beautiful name! Done … now let’s get on with the parenting decisions that are going make a HUGE difference.’
Alright, so I don’t actually know the easy way to pick a name. It seems like it’s actually pretty hard to mess up. I could have been Chris, Henry, Brian, Blake, or Steven, and that probably would not have changed my life at all. As long as you don’t name your kid Apple, or Nintendo, or Pop Tart then you’re doing just fine.
Here’s where it gets serious
Now, gather round. Cozy up with a nice cup of your favourite chai tea, because I’m about to say something important. I’ve been reading my first parenting book, “Kids Are Worth It” by Barbara Coloroso. I’m about 27 pages in, loving it and have pretty much decided that I’m a parenting expert now :p. I’ve got that stupid cocky feeling, like ‘yeah, I got this.’ Meanwhile reality contains the truth that like most areas of knowledge I am (and we all are) extensively ignorant and only slightly knowledgeable. When compared with our ignorance, our knowledge is like a single candle trying to light up Nebraska (or Saskatchewan, or any expansive planes region of the earth). You get the point …
We owe it to our kids to decide what parenting decisions really matter. The first step in raising our kids is in raising ourselves up to another level. That means making the responsible decisions that by necessity will be made for them.
They are counting on us whether we do something about it or not. Before our kids are even born our decisions are going to change their lives. We have to take care of ourselves and we have to handle the important decisions.
I asked “why” earlier, and for some that may mean that I’m supposed to resolve that question with a conclusive answer. I’m not actually too concerned about why we focus so much on the name. Whatever the reason is I don’t think it can be a good one. The truth is that we shouldn’t be spending so much time thinking about a name. There are just too many other important things! A lot of them can’t be changed. Like most of you, I’m still going to spend some time picking out my child’s name. But I hope can keep it in perspective.
I’ll wrap things up there and let you chew on that for a while. I would love to hear what you have to say, because it matters. Plus I have to go talk about baby names with Deb.
They say that your life changes the moment you have a child. Now, I don’t know what that feels like yet, but I don’t doubt it for a second! It won’t just be Deb and me anymore. Those days will be gone. And life will change in ways I can’t fully understand now.
With that said life has changed DRAMATICALLY already! Deb and I have known we are pregnant for less than a week! But damned if my life isn’t completely different! Yet I’ve never heard anyone talk about the dramatic changes that occur in your life and how you think about it when you first find out. As weird as it might sound, I already feel kind of like a dad now. My mind has started changing (and I assume my brain chemistry along with it). I have started changing … what I like to call “uping my game”. Overnight I have just become a better version of myself, e.g. more patient, more focused, more driven.
I’ve got 8 months to be ready to be a dad. Now is the time to “up my game.”
I might even go so far as to say I’ve already started being a dad. No, I’m not changing diapers yet, or carrying a precious little person around, or waking up in the middle of the night to feed, but I feel a different and new love already. However I put it, it’s fundamentally about treating my partner with a transcendent patience and care. Though a part of this is definitely just about her, about treating Deb with care because she needs my support, my decisions are also about helping our baby. In other words I have begun taking care of that being.
My Sprout app shows me that our baby is still just a little elegant seed within her womb. But I swear there is a part of me that swells up with love just thinking about that life becoming, that little precious being that we’ve created.
Now for the Part about Dog Poop
A simple, perhaps even mundane example of this change in love happened yesterday. It’s funny to even think about it now, but that’s perhaps what makes it the best example :D. As I took out the compost I noticed that some of my homemade compost, which has taken months of stewing in its own juices to “finish” was plopped down to cover up a pile of our dog’s poop. I admit I was more than a little annoyed that my precious garden compost had been abused in this way! My fellow gardeners out there will feel some of my pain. That’s MONTHS of stewing and preparation for next year’s garden! For those who don’t know, dog poop contains parasites that make it inappropriate for gardening (or so they say). So that compost isn’t going to be used in my vegetable garden any time soon.
This is actually past the point where I should stop the story, because it makes me look foolish. Sometimes it’s good to share stories that will make us humble later on (when we reflect on how we never should have shared them in the first place).
The point is that I worked myself up into a bit of a tizzy (whatever that means) in the backyard. As you may well imagine, I prepared my Oscar worthy performance before I burst through the doors to share my angst. But then I stopped, dead in my mind’s tracks, before reaching the door. I understood then that my Oscar worthy performance would never be. How could I go inside and share even a moment’s frustration about this? ‘We have a baby that’s going to be born’, I thought. I shook my head, knowing full well that ‘I can’t be this man.’
Now, you may be sitting there, thinking ‘this guy is kind of petty. I mean, who complains about wasted compost?’ You know what, sometimes, you’d be correct my friend. But overall I’m not petty. When you think about it, do we ever get mad for good reasons? Rarely. And even in those rare instances anger probably isn’t the best way of expressing how we feel.
Before you get upset about my silliness, know that I went inside and hugged my darling.
I just held her for a minute and let my love pour into her.
Though the dog poop is kind of a silly example I am becoming a better man. I am creating less conflict and participating less in it. My world is changing. I am changing. Technically I may not be a dad yet, but perhaps being a dad doesn’t just start at the moment our baby sees the world with her own eyes for the first time. Sure we don’t know the gender of our baby. We don’t have a final name picked out. We haven’t held him in our arms … But there is this new love, this new way of looking at the world, and it’s entirely different from 5 days ago.