We all have these events in our lives that change us forever. They mold us, shape us, turn us into who we are, and these events are different for each of us.
Maybe it's standing in line to sign up for your first semester of college and noticing the cute girl in front of you wearing a Misfits shirt and thinking, "Hmm, I could see myself dating her," then eight years later finding yourself coming up on your seventh wedding anniversary with her.
Perhaps it's seeing your favorite band for your birthday in Little Rock and you end up on stage playing live with guys you've admired for well over a decade.
Maybe you applied for this job that you really wanted and didn't get it, only to get a call a year later asking you to come in for the same job. A really good job with a great boss and some great colleagues. (Cough, cough. Wink, wink.)
Or maybe, just maybe, one day your incredible wife -- you know, the one with the Misfits shirt -- looks at you and says "I'm pregnant."
In case the above was to vague, all of these things happened to me, most importantly the "I'm pregnant." That's right, I'm going to be a father. My wife is going to be a mother. It's great. I'm ecstatic, elated, overjoyed and a little scared.
See, this good news didn't come without a bit of heartache for the two of us. On second thought, make that a lot of heartache. Actually, "a lot" doesn't really cover it, but I'm not in the mood to make up a word for what my wife and I went through this year. For those who don't know, this is the second time this year we've had this news. In January we found out we were having a baby, but before we made it through the first trimester, we lost it.
You never completely get over a loss like that. It affects you in ways you never thought it would; but as with any loss, eventually you press on. And we did. But before I continue on, I would like to say I'm sorry to those who have been through or are going through the pain of losing a child before ever really having it. May you find a peace you never knew existed.
Now, back to the subject of fatherhood and being a father, particularly for us first-timers. I'm fortunate enough to have put a great deal of thought and discussion into this with my wife before we decided it was the right time for us to have a kid. I can't imagine having something like this being a surprise, but that's just the way I am. I have an aversion to surprises, spontaneity, the unexpected or unknown and pretty much everything else I can't schedule.
So here we are. It's happening, I'm going to be a dad. I feel like I'm starting to repeat myself a little, but honestly at this point I'm still trying to convince myself that this is actually happening. It's no longer this hypothetical thing thrown around when my wife and I discuss the future. It's real.
When I first found out I was going to be a dad, I felt like every part of my day was accompanied by Hall & Oats' "You Make My Dreams." It was great. Then one day, while sitting at a Chinese restaurant waiting on a take-out order, it hit me, "I'm going to have to feed this thing." There it was, like a ton of bricks. Having a baby is about more than just making sure you get one of those science officer Star Trek onesies before they sell out or finding the perfect Yoda plushie for your little one. You have to know things and do things, and not only did I not know how to do those things, but since I haven't been around a baby for well over two decades, I didn't even know what it was that I didn't know how to do. (Pat yourself on the back for following that train of thought.)
So I did what I do every time I need to know something, I hit up the Internet. But for the first time in my life, it was surprisingly not helpful. There were a lot of resources dedicated to helping the mom. Books, personal blogs, support groups -- you name it, and it was there for moms, but the fatherly advice was kind of sparse. I found just a couple of books for first-time fathers, about half of which were written by women. I found a few blogs, most of which had long been abandoned. So there I sat. No more information than I'd had nine hours prior when I sat down at my computer.
With little-to-no help from the Internet, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and here we are. I plan to write regularly to share what I'm learning as I make my way through the pregnancy and the first year of my baby's life. I also hope to get some feedback from those of you out there who are in the same boat. Let's admit it, guys, we all need a little help from time to time. Our partners will spend countless hours talking about what to expect with their friends who have had kids, but sometimes we get left out of that conversation. So lets all work together here and try to avoid those "Honey, that's the third time we've passed that gas station," type of moments when it comes to our kids and ask each other for directions. Keep your eyes open for my next installment and check out my blog thejedidad.wordpress.com or follow me on Twitter at @TheJediDad.