I can’t say I was shocked. Surprised, yes. Sweaty? Very. But not shocked.
It was evening, back in the day of few responsibilities. When I look back on this life-changing encounter with my wife, it’s boggling to think of all the free time. Floating around, there for the taking…Okay, sorry, where were we? Surprised. Right.
I’d just come back from basketball and stumbled upon an extremely frazzled woman sitting at the edge of the couch. Upon further inspection I noticed that that woman was my wife. She told me to sit down, then after some fidgeting, “Wait, take a shower first.”
I shot her a look. Something was up. Did she get a raise? No, as a public school teacher that line of thinking falls squarely in the joke category. And she wasn’t exactly smiling. So I took a shower, my mind racing with possibilities of what was coming. My wife isn’t prone to getting worked up. She’s not a fidgeter. That's my department. She’s the even in our keel, so to see her all red faced and breathing funny it had to be good. Or bad. It could be bad...
“Okay, what?” I asked, my physique shimmering in the glow of dusk. Whatever, this is my depiction, here. My wife pointed to the couch.
“So….” She gave me a look. Like I was missing something. I sorted through my thoughts. I really gotta get my jump shot back on track.
“Are you sure?"
More staring, this time with a look I've since deciphered to mean: You're an idiot.
Elation. A thrill of joy I will never forget. A family. This is great. Although we have/had that Jamaica trip planned, but…A Kid!
The reason I wasn’t shocked was because a few months prior we’d passed by the nearby CVS. My wife had mentioned that she needed to refill her birth control. I’ll never forget sitting at that light. Turn left and get the pills. Go straight and pull the goalie.
The light turned green and I plunged ahead, thus sacking the goalie. Man, such a rebel. But honestly I didn’t feel that rebellious. I was thirty-six and I don’t know how else to put this but I really didn’t think my stuff worked. We went about our business. Trying but not trying. The last thing I wanted to do was tell the world, “Hey guess what? We’re trying to have a baby!”
So on that couch I was less than shocked but more than surprised. And that euphoria that hit when she told me she was pregnant? Well, it lasted through most of that initial embrace. Goosebumps hit like a pad of bristles under my skin. My mind flooded with the happiest happy I’ve ever experienced in my life until that point.
Then it was gone.
An immense fear followed. It engulfed me like an itchy wool cloak of uncertainty. A human. A real, walking talking, pooping human. My human. I would be responsible for seeing that it was fed and clothed and didn’t like soccer (I’m kidding, he can like soccer). On top of that I had to raise it so that it wouldn’t grow up and be a serial killer. And then, after being sure that my well-fed, clothed, moderate-to-decently-raised human wasn't a career criminal, I had to hope and pray he wouldn't cross paths with a serial killer. Phew. It's not easy living in this mind of mine.
“Are you okay?”
I nodded. What in the hell was I thinking? That goalie had been the only thing keeping my fragile mind at ease. Now I was freefalling. This wasn’t like picking out a dog. Where you go to the kennel and pick out that cute little mutt. I was great with dogs. Throw the stick and the fetch the stick. This was different.
That week was a blur. Me. A father. How would this work? Everything was about to change. Alternating voices controlled my thoughts.
Everyone has kids. It’s part of life. No big deal. HUGE DEAL. YOUR KID IS GOING TO BE A BABY FRANKENSTEIN. WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? YOU CAN HARDLY TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!
And since that day, this has been the ongoing struggle...
I told my friends (Ha, I had friends!). Had a few guys over and we had some beers. I broke out the news. At that point my joy in becoming a dad overpowered my anxiety. But not for long. Something happened to me.
Up until then I thought panic attacks were something the paper bag companies came up with to spike sales. But it was no joke, I’d wake up sweating, my pulse racing and my breaths light. I'd bolt out of bed, pacing, swearing it was the big one.
Then it happened again. Wake up, bolt upright. Shortness of breath, cold feet. Sweating. It happened so frequently that I finally saw a doctor. A few test and he assured that everything was fine. Calm down.
I calmed. I quit smoking. I watched my sugar intake.. I went a little crazy and started drinking organic apple cider vinegar. (I’d read that it helped, sorta).
Again, my doctor assured me I was fine. He told me not to come back for two years. He refused to be facebook buddies with me. He pointed from his heart to his head and said, "I’m not so sure the problem is here, but here.”
I babystepped my way out of his office, officially labeled a headcase by a physician. My wife laughed out loud.
The next few months were peaceful. We planned. I started a blog to document my craziness. I found out we were having a boy. I was still scared but I had no choice but to answer the call. We were going to have a family.
And now here we are...