I’m going to be a dad real soon, and I’m finally more excited than scared by it. My wife Claire is 4 days late but since statistically first babies are likely to be late this is entirely expected. Awhile back I expected to cherish these last days before the baby arrives but I’m in a different place than where I was at first and I really want the baby to come now. I think first-time fathers-to-be go through a series of stages before the baby comes:
Stage 1 – Wow! – When my wife handed me a small plastic stick with a blue line on it I had to look at it for a few seconds before I figured out what it was. We’d only been trying for about a month so I wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. All I could say was wow. wow wow wow. wow? Wow!
Stage 1 – Oh shit. – After awhile it begins dawns on you how yes, this is really happening, and yes things are really going to change. Just because you know it intellectually before you start trying doesn’t prepare you for this.
Stage 3 – Oh Shit! – It was only beginning to dawn before, now the sun’s poking its head above the horizon and where there had been only shapes barely discernable in the pre-dawn light now suddenly reality blazes across the landscape and you see what the change really means. You start to really watch other parents to see how they do things, what equipment they have, how they make it all work. I actually started to listen to my workmates (who are almost all fathers of young children) to try and learn what I could.
Stage 4 – SHIT!!!!!!!! – I was at a boot sale (in England a boot sale is basically a flea market held in a field somewhere) and my wife and mother-in-law started buying loads of baby clothes. My first reaction was “what are they buying those for, we don’t need that…”, and I think then was when it truly hit me that it was all for real. Up till then I had been in some sort of denial, an adjustment period if you will. Now it all came to me in a rush. OMG, I’ve got so much I have to do! I have to buy a baby carriage, we have to decorate the room, get baby clothes, baby monitors, wraps, oils, wipes! I’ve got to read book on how to not completely screw up a child so he becomes a serial killer because I’ve got no idea how to do it right! I’m going to completely suck at this! We have to pick a name! What the hell are going to name this kid? And diapers. OMG DIAPERS! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
Stage 5 – Let’s do this shit – You’ve had your freakout couple of weeks where all the dads at work are watching and nodding knowingly, now it’s time to make this happen. The list of stuff you need just keeps getting longer and longer, like a hallway in a horror movie, but you know you’re going to get through it because you have determination! Mentally you’re still coming to grips with it but at least you’ve come to grips with having to come to grips with it.
Stage 6 – Where’s the baby? – I’m at this point now, where we’ve bought all the stuff we need to buy, the room is decorated, we’ve got a short list of names, and we’ve read the books. I’m as prepared as I’m going to be and I’m looking forward to meeting my son in person. I finally got to this stage about a week and a half ago when I finally started to relax a bit. I’m still nervous about it which is natural, but I know I can do this. Billions of others have reared children so I know I can too.
If course next there’s after the baby comes stage 1 – I’ve got a baby now, Oh Shit! – but I’m not there yet 😉