Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Smartarses

Everyone loves a cutting cliché and a juicy generalisation.

The irritating thing about them is the fact that they often prove themselves to be true.

From the moment you start trying to conceive up, right up until your kid is attempting to lure you into a retirement home with a trail of wurther's originals you get bombarded with them.

While ‘just relax, it will happen’ was the runaway champion in the days of TTC, the days and months that follow becoming pregnant bring their own beauty.

Just you wait until…

Who knew that at any given stage of pregnancy, nothing is as big, small, scary, beautiful, endearing, or terrifying as it will be at some later stage. On the basis of this, I calculate that I will should optimal happiness when I keel over and die clutching the part of my chest that houses my lard encased heart.

One of the generalisations I scoffed at in the past was the idea that as an expectant father, I wouldn’t feel any sense of connection, or have a realisation of what was taking shape and going to happen until certain milestones were reached, ultrasounds, heartbeats, and kicks to name a few.

I wasn’t having any of this idea, along with ET, I had worked and pushed for two years to get to this point, and that in itself was evidence that I was more advanced than the average father-to-be.

I'd know better.

I was wrong.

It’s hard to believe in something you can’t see or feel the evidence of. It’s hard to put into perspective, and prepare yourself mentally for, something you find hard to believe. It’s hard to put your hand on a belly and feel no movement and be 100% satisfied that everything is as it should be, and is leading to how it will be.

As time passes the evidence starts to build. Ultrasounds initially show pictures of things that look like beans, and later show grainy images that are baby shaped. Like a couple of oranges in a sock.

You hear a heartbeat, and things change a little. Things become a little clearer in your mind, more believable.

The lucky ones eventually start to feel movements. Not a feeling like anything you recognise, you could never say with any certainty that it was a foot, or hand, or forehead. Still, a feeling nonetheless, a physical touch.

But now, I look through the 3D ultrasound pictures over and over and I see the fleshy palms of little hands. I see upper arms that I bet I could ring my own thumb and forefinger around. I see lips being pushed and probed by long fingers in the same way they will be when the baby is lying in its snot green room.

I see lids covering a child’s eyes that will soon open and look back at my stupid face gawking back at theirs.

Looking at these pictures has catapulted me as if I've reached some secret level in a computer game, from where I previously thought I believed and I connected, to a place that’s a little scary. I believe more than I ever did, I’m more excited than I ever was, but I’m now aware of how much I still can’t yet believe, and how much more excitement there will be.

I’m a relatively bright person, I can do my job reasonably well, I can stutter through a foreign language, and I can understand the 3 boxes I have to fill in on my tax forms. I can drive a car, mow a lawn, and sometimes make my wife happy.

I know I can do these now because I’ve done them all before, but I don’t recall the first time I attempted any of them going particularly smoothly.

It’s hit me that this is another ‘first’, probably the first ‘first’ I’ve had in years. I don’t know what to expect and trying to think about it too much makes my brain react the way it does with mathematics. I strain and fail to wrap all the elements of the puzzle within my poor brain’s reach, and everything remains unresolved.

In the end, I suppose I just have to do what everyone says.

Just wait until.

Smartarses.

41 comments:

Bonnie B. said...

Okay, but we WERE wrong about that whole "just relax, it will happen" thing, so don't feel so bad.

Parenthood in general is scary because you've never done any of this before. But somehow you do it. And you love it (most of the time).

Putz said...

those beans are balls, tiny sacks of the male persona...that should get you all excited again, and stop you worringing so you don't feel bad whatsoever...do i know what i am talking about????am i right?????am i smart??????am i a genus??????am i king of the world???????amm i the most handsome person on this earth???????am i the sexiest man alive??????am i god??????am i a god of the gods?????i let you mull all this over in your mind for a hour or two

Middle Aged Woman said...

You are going to experience so many firsts, and very soon! A word of advice. Cut yourself some slack. You ARE GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES. It happens. They survive, despite our ineptness. The first time you change his diaper, you are going to use 15 little wipes. After a week, you'll be able to do it blindfolded, with one wipe, and wrap it all up without wearing any of it. Think of the blog fodder.

rachelbk said...

I like to think I'm also reasonably intelligent, I mean, there is that MS degree hanging on my office wall and all...but parenthood shoots all that in the arse. I'm an idiot, even though I've done this baby thing twice. My kids prove how stupid I am every single day.
But that's okay. They also prove that I'm worthy of love, screw-ups and all.
It will all be okay. Weird, but okay.

Jenni said...

It's totally worth the wait because it just gets better and better.

Kori said...

I no longer care what the gender is, because even though you know, it still doesn't change anything; you are STILL going to have your socks knocked off daily by the fact that this little person is already changing your life-and nothing anyone can say will prepare you for it. Nothing.

WeaselMomma said...

Just sit back and enjoy the ride. =)

Mwa said...

Luckily your instinct will take over when the time comes. I'm so excited for you!

Dad Who Writes said...

Oh, it's going to be a complete nightmare. Odd thing is, it'll also be the best days of your life.

Thing to remember is, kids are such tough little beggars - if you love them enough, they'll survive your worst, well-meant attempts at parenting. And thrive.

And don't forget - sometimes, you'll get things more right than you can possibly imagine.

Rebecca said...

Wait. Savor. Enjoy. Each and every minute of your child's life is a blessing (and you both know this). Don't always be looking towards the future, just enjoy the present. I won't say it goes quick, because there will be times when you wonder how much longer it's going to take. haha. I'm saying that you'll want to commit to memory a lot of the beautiful milestones we won't tell you about. The things you'll discover on your own, like hidden Easter Eggs. There are so many. Don't take it for granted.

Erin said...

I'm not going to say "just wait until..." about anything, because you will see for yourself: how the biggest love you've ever felt can get bigger, how every time you think you know your child he surprises and delights you yet again, how all of a sudden you realize you're living life as three and three is much better than two. You'll see. And I'm so excited for you.

womb for improvement said...

It's getting real now isn't it? Exciting.

James (SeattleDad) said...

2 1/2 years in and it has not stopped amazing me. And there was a time I was very ambivalent. I didn't really believe what everyone said I would feel, but I was wrong.

nutsinmay said...

And you will not BELIEVE how protective and fierce you will feel about someone after you've wiped their bottom for them. I've noticed a distinct difference in the quality of my affection for my siblings and nieces and nephews depending on whether I ever changed their nappies. I have NOT done some of the younger ones, so it's not an age thing (they teeny, me grown-up). It's a nappy thing. Someone that vulnerable, tiny, and exposed, and relying on you to make their bottom and genitals presentable. It melts you. It makes you into their pet tiger for life.

Ms. Moon said...

That was beautiful.

Chelsea Lietz said...

I HATE the "just wait until _____" thing! annoying.

But I do enjoy hearing things from the father's perspective... especially since they are usually humorous. Thanks for sharing!

Hockeyman said...

Savor these days my friend, not because of all the changes though. Savor these days because this anticipation, fear, and wonder only happens like this the first time around. You get it with future children, but its no longer a complete unknown expectation. Savor the anticipation and wonder for when that just until finally comes.

Veronica said...

The 'just wait' comments drive me mad, yet I still find myself going to say 'just wait until...' to people.

Good post.

AnnD said...

Oooohhh...I dunno what to say to this one...so much to say...

On one hand, I want to validate your fear and tell you that it's normal and share a bunch of stories, most of which you probably already know by now. But, mostly I just want to say that, even though there are moments of fear, the moments of joy, happiness and sheer amazement will far outweigh those moments.

I promise.

Chhandita said...

Oh am so glad to be back....and glader to read your blog....wishing you and ET al the best

Dondi Tiples said...

go with the flow, daddy-oh. que sera sera.

River said...

I second what everyone else here has said. Except for Putz. I don't believe he is king of the world etc. Not at all.

~Tanya~ said...

That was beautifully written.

My little girl is 5 months old now and we still get surprises every day. It's like nothing I've ever done before.

Everybody likes to give advce because they think you need it, but no matter how much information you obtain, you will still be entering fatherhood blindfolded!

It's fun!

geeksinrome said...

You should fire back with "Just wait until I call you to babysit!"

I never liked those comments, especially since we tried so long and hard to get pregnant. Yes, I did kill myself to have the privilege of "just you wait until the baby keeps you up all night..." It's a freaking blessing!

It is hard, but being able to stare into that fussy baby's face and know it is all yours, the love and wonder you feel squeezes out any room for even mild annoyance to surface.

You will loooove the millions of surprises and firsts you are in for. Nothing will floor you like the first time you lay eyes on him, and hold him, and try to soothe his cries. It still brings me to tears bringing comfort to my children in their moments of pain or sadness or watching them sleep.

That sock full of oranges is going to blow you away.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

@Bonnie B. - I'm sure it will be fine, just first time I noticed any bit of panic.

@Putz - you are nutz.

@Middle Aged Woman - We shall see!

@rachelbk -Nice.

@Jenni - I'm sure it will be.

@Kori - this was totally non gender related indeed.

@WeaselMomma - indeed!

@Mwa - hmmm, but is the instinct any good!

@Dad Who Writes - Cool. Thanks.

@Rebecca - heh, nice, thanks.

@Erin - I could very easily burst.

@womb for improvement - Yes, yes it is. And EVERYTHING was worth it.

@James (SeattleDad) - That's good to hear, especially as you had a long wait too.

@nutsinmay - That's lovely. Look after yourself.

@Ms. Moon - dont tell anyone but it was a bit vague and all over the place to be honest.

@Chelsea Lietz - This is the place to be then!

@Hockeyman - I've wondered that, how thing swould differ with a 2nd.

@Veronica - heh, dont you dare!

@AnnD - Thanks.

@Chhandita - Awww, thanks.

@Dondi Tiples - thats the plan I guess!

@River - putz is royalty of some sort though

@Tanya - you sound like you enjoy it anyway.

@geeksinrome - Awwwwww.

Ed said...

I think the problem with waiting in this particular instance is that no matter how you try--there is no amount of preparation you can do that's going to make the transition any less daunting.

This is completely on the job training at it's finest. And like Dad Who Writes said kids are pretty resilient--fortunately.

Sadia said...

Cliches were almost all born for a good reason.

Although I was beyond frustrated at the time, it turned out to be a really good thing that I couldn't see my daughters for a day and a half after they were born. It gave my husband an opportunity to bond with them uniquely. It was surprisingly similar to the connection forged in the seven months that I got them to myself in utero. Another parallel was that while I could nurse, he was the one who knew how to manage their feeding tubes.

bsouth said...

Damn, can't remember which cutting cliches and juicy generalisations I threw at you but I bet they were well worn ones!

I went to both my 12 week scans firmly believing there wouls be nothing on the screen despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Try not to think too much, no good will come of it.

areyoukiddingme said...

The only cliche you really need to hear is "You'll be fine."

suzannanana said...

The anxiety you are feeling is your heart growing.

Mick said...

I am so sick of 'just wait until...'

Everyone is a genius, aren't they? They usually mean well though.

I'm loving every moment now, it's great...

Lie back and enjoy it :-)

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

Is it wrong that as soon as you referenced a secret level of a computer game, I thought 'yeah, the Easter Eggs will be hanging from ET's arse'.

Yeah, I thought so.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

@Ed - this is quite correct I think, totally blindfold.

@Sadia - Nice!

@bsouth - thinking is overrated for sure...

@areyoukiddingme - heh ;-)

@suzannanana - Awwwww

@Mick - yeah of course, they mean well for sure, but still !

@Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo - Not a clue what you mean

Lisa said...

just a little misty-eyed right now. your words are magic, even when you're being a little snarky. :)

Chris Mancini said...

That's why the gestation period is nine months. Not to grow the baby, but to get the father used to the idea.

Jo said...

Men always use 15 wipes! More when there's actually a poo!

I remember this feeling. Ah, she's good now, but just wait til she's three months/a toddler/the terrible twos/a teenager.

I hated the negativity of that, the cynical cursing of new parents.

I don't mind the nice stuff :)

Jared said...

Those 3D Ultrasounds are amazing! That was the point where I said to myself, "Holy Sh!t this is the real deal!"

You'll do fine dude, it's not all that bad. Ya, you'll screw things up...I know I did. Just laugh your way through it. :D

The first diaper I changed at home? It ended up requiring two people to take a bath! I still laugh about that one... :D

Enjoy every minute...the good and the bad...because in the end...it's all good!

Amy said...

That was lovely. How awesome are ultrasounds?!? A precious glimpse of the cool stuff to come.
Dunno about the snot green room though...

Anonymous said...

Oh just wait, it is spectacular! it is happiness beyond your wildest dreams...oh just you wait.
Deno

Joe @ IrrationalDad said...

I tell Tyler (16 months old) that I love him, everyday. Today he ran up to me and said "Luhloo".

MELT!

Yes, it does get better and better.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

@Lisa - heh, chin up ;-)

@Chris Mancini -Well I'm already well used to the idea... ideas are all we've had for years.
@Jo - I'm sure some handle it just as well as any woman!
But yes, that's exactly what I'm on about.

@Jared - It has made a big difference alright.

@Amy - Hey, I finished it finally, so dont knock it!

@Deno - Behave!

@Joe @ IrrationalDad - Heh, awwww.