I Feel Like a Dad... and it's Scary!
Written July 1 (16-ish weeks pregnant )
Have you woken up crying? This is a new thing for me (Samuel). My wife is going on a brief trip with her family. I was thinking about that and how I’d miss her, but then it hit me… my baby is going too.
We’ve heard the heartbeat twice, but what’s most exciting is that Angela is starting to show. I’ve been reading a book that covers pregnancy from an expectant father’s perspective and it said it’s very normal for fathers to not feel a strong connection to the baby early in the pregnancy. I absolutely have loved the concept of the baby, if that makes sense, but now that I can see Angela’s baby bump there has been a transition in my mind. Instead of “loving the baby”, I can point at her belly and say “I love you.” It’s not some nebulous abstract concept, it is real. My baby is right there! Even the phrasing of that sentence, “my” baby. The morning of July 1st, the baby is MY baby too, and I feel like a father.
I’ve tried to be diligent about making sure Angela drinks plenty of water, doesn’t get hungry (that’s a whole thing I’ll talk about another time), gets rest, and feels comfortable. I probably would have felt a little anxiety about not directly overseeing that anyway, but now that the baby is my baby, it kicked that anxiety into a gear I haven’t felt since the miscarriage.
Angela’s family (particularly her mom and dad) have taken care of her the majority of her life, so that means they’re pretty good at it. They love us and pray for us so I know she’s in good hands, but this morning’s worry easily overwhelmed that reassurance.
The miscarriage experience usually provides a heart and a brain response, and both are very strong. There is knee buckling emotion and blinding peace. Most of the time, thanks to God, there is blinding peace. I’m sure some parents have the fear of the unknown (ex: losing their baby). For us, it’s not unknown. We do know what it’s like and we know how the grief feels. More importantly, we have seen how God took care of us in the grief. So even though it sucks beyond comprehension, we know God will pour out his mercy beyond comprehension.
On more rare occasions, particularly in times of weakness, there is the fear. The fear of losing, the fear of the grief itself. I figure most reading this will be musicians, so I’ll say it’s like sympathetic strings on an instrument. They aren’t directly played, but will respond to the right frequency. The scar left by the miscarriage is there like a sympathetic string, most of the time inert. Then, something will happen that is emotionally similar enough and the scar starts to resonate. Sometimes I’m aware of it and can brace myself, other times the resonance builds so quickly I’m incapacitated before I’m even aware of what’s going on. Whatever I’m feeling is given more energy, from a surface wave to a tsunami.
When I thought of my baby leaving my protection on this trip, it resonated with the old wound and gave me an emotion I’ve only felt when I’m concerned about someone I love. It’s like I was so ferociously aware of my love for my baby that it made me panic. A mix of love, concern, fear, and anxiety all at once. I’ve felt something like that before for Angela, but it can be tempered by the fact that she’s an adult and can take care of herself. But my baby is so tiny and fragile.
Maybe that’s what triggered the old wound. The miscarriage is forever a reminder of the fragility of life. Sometimes (very rarely) towards the beginning of the pregnancy, it made it subconsciously difficult to be fully emotionally present. Never would I consciously want to protect myself from getting attached, but the wounded part of me was scared. But fear not, I am all in now.
Forget fear. Forget worry. Forget fragility. Forget death. Forget feelings of inadequacy. Forget concerns about finances. I am charging in. Sometimes, like today, I feel like a soldier charging into battle with bullets flying overhead. Other days, I feel like a kid on the first day of summer sprinting towards the pool.
Whatever the expression, we are charging in. The miscarriage may have been one of the most significant moments in our lives because of how it stripped away fear. As I said, the fear of losing a baby is not an unknown fear to us. We have gone through it and are in the process of coming out the other side. God has provided, and he will provide. There are moments of fear and worry like this morning, but the miscarriage experience showed me those feelings come and go and that’s perfectly okay. I know fear doesn’t come from God, so I remind myself of peace and his promises.
We don’t know what will happen with our baby. We don’t know boy or girl (two weeks!!!!!), tall or short, healthy or sick, whether it will shy away from attention or soak it up, whether it will need braces or have perfect teeth like its mom….there are so many unknowns, but what we do know is… THIS. WILL. BE. SPECTACULAR.
I have never been more ready to be not ready. Anxiety will come and go. I know I will be worried plenty of times about so many different things, but I don’t care. With Angela (my perfect companion and bestest friend) and my baby (the physical expression of our love brought forth by God’s grace), what else matters? They are my heart and my flesh (metaphorically as of 2014, literally as of 16 weeks ago).
I promise this blog won’t always be this intense. Next time I might talk about burping (mom, not the baby) or how we can have so much food but still have “nothing to eat”. I wanted to share our experiences with our extended family that has supported and will continue to support us.
Welcome to the ride of our lives!
(feel free to leave a comment below)