Total Freakout

With the completion of the kitchen remodel and the subsequent sitting still, I’m now face to face with the terror that will be the birth of my daughter. I know that society expects me to be distant and male and all that. Or does it expect me to be a New Father and be all up on the Mr. Mom tip? Either way, I’m terrified. Utterly freaked out that a new life will depend on me and my lady for sustenance. Sure, it’s mostly my lady providing the sustenance, but the bacon must be brought home and subsequently fried up in a pan. And right now, I’m the bacon bringer homer.

After reading this, my story is similar. Since the first date with wife, I’ve wanted to have children with her. I want the chaos, the no sleeping, the reading stories, the sippy cups, the all of it. As in the TMN piece, my wife will get a concerned look and then grab What to Expect When You’re Expecting flip frantically and then read a bit and touch her belly randomly and then put the book down and lie back with a sigh that says, “Thank God I’m not dying.”

Child rearing has been a big deal in our house since the early days of the relationship and once we survived the initial weeks with the dog, has been in the top three topics of discussion (1-regular or not bowels; 2-booze; 3-kids… but not always in that order) month-to-month. Once I was gainfully employed and we had insurance, we got about the Devil’s Business and I’m certain most of you have read all about it from her perspective.

I’ve been a bit reluctant to discuss the impending fatherhood for more than a few reasons, not the least of which are the moments of utter terror as I imagine labor, birth and diapers. I’m not worried about the next five years. I’m worried about the next 5 months. A couple of years ago, when we came back to Utah for Christmas and I introduced Heather to my family, we visited some friends who described their first child’s birth and the sudden weirdness of being home with the baby and having no professional staff nearby to answer questions or administer medication. Since hearing this, I’ve oft imagined what it will be like with Heather and I. The resulting scenes are ones that my internal stage director frequently orders to stop being played out and instead, orders us to go play with CSS for a bit. Mostly because I fear I won’t be the calm dad, but I’ll be the frazzled, crazed dad. I expect Heather to be teaching me all about diapers and changing and burping and how to not smoosh the baby when I’m reading CSS spec to her while simultaneously holding her and a laptop.

Perhaps it’s not about the lack of ability or the fear of poopy diapers as much as it is fear of the unknown. By nature, my role as father has already started detached a bit from the baby. I’ve watched the belly grow and spoken to her repeatedly, but the baby is more an abstract, hidden, moving mass whose looks and personality are all my imagining. Seeing the ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat still affect me in ways that I’ve never experienced affectation, but she’s still inside her mother. I’m just observing from the outside and trying to be supportive.

Despite the fears, I have one expectation I am certain will be met; that the second I see this child, I will love her for the rest of my life.

  • http://www.thehighsign.net lizpenn

    wow, first comment!

    for what it is worth, i just wanted to send my warm congrats to you and dooce, along with an assurance that (unless you guys are absolute geniuses at disguising your personalities in print, and are in reality a pair of dim-witted Republican assholes) you have everything going for you to be the best parents ever. as you (almost) say at the end of your post, it’s hard to do it, but it’s not hard to want to do it.

    mazel tov!

  • http://www.apple.com/ Jerry

    I’ll echo the comments of lizpenn. Only the best of future parents have the concerns you and your wife have. Lousy parents sort of stumble into the whole business and it goes downhill from there. And, btw, she’s not “nutz” in terms of her comments about your baby as that remark was intended in a more general sense. Good luck. — a total stranger :)

  • http://yahmdallah.blogspot.com/ Yahmdallah

    You’ll be pleasantly amazed at how quickly you learn all you need to know. It’s not necessarily easy, but there’s not a lot of mystery either. And you’ll have more fun than you might expect.

  • http://www.up-dog.com eddo

    Those last comments made me all teary eyed at work- sometimes I feel so super gay- not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Anyway, my new year will not be complete until I see some photos of this new baby girl.

    Congrats and Happy New Year..

  • http://www.suburbanbliss.net Melissa

    Here’s the good news.

    Really all you have to fear is the first 6 weeks. By then the situation feels normal, it feels like your new life. Oh and the hormones start to balance out a bit…that helps a lot.

    And also, remember anything said at 2am while holding a crying infant…doesn’t count and is a do-over.

    I can’t wait for pictures of the new baby…but what I’d really like right now are pictures of that fabulous new kitchen.

  • http://www.tristynfinncherian.com/index_xx.html Stan

    Pray to your God that you will have a child that will sleep through the night. I have been been blessed with a 10 month old who keeps vampire hours. Thank Jeebus he is the cutest little bugger or else I’d be dangling him from the fire escape.

  • http://www.digitalcatharsis.com the mighty jimbo

    that was an amazing and deeply personal post. blurb, thank you so much for sharing it.

    as the uncle of four (soon to be five) and a surrogate uncle to countless others (i’m the only one in my circle of old friends without children), all i can say is that you will figure it out.

    you will spend way more time positively amazed at watching what your child is learning and discovering than what you are learning and discovering at the same time.

    and the other think i have seen is this, once you do see that baby, everything else in yourlife becomes an afterthought.

    frankly my friend, i think you are gonna do just fine.

    heh. in many ways i think a baby will be easier than that kitchen. but that’s just cause i’m a total pussy.

  • bdk&e

    HO’OPOREEKO!

    First can I say, Pussy Slapped. Or was it Pussy Spanked? Why? Because I had to fit it in somehow.

    Second, you speak for many men and I think you speak for many women. Until you are there, no one can really tell you what it will be like or how it will feel. Your feelings are heartfelt and normal. You and Heather are so well-read and prepared. And then as you know, you just close your eyes and jump. I should lend you our, “The Womanly Art of Breast Feeding.” It got us through our first 24 hours home with K . Dave and I spent that first night on the couch together trying to figure how it all worked. “Why the hell is this little guy not latching on?” I would sob. Dave was great at looking things up while I was freaking out. You will be too. You already are. Ok, I am rambling and will stop now. –Enjoy this time. You will never be a first time father again. Keep writing.

  • http://www.apple.com/ Jerry

    No post from the mother-to-be so far today, just a link to this blog. You are on a path, indivdually and together, which will make you marvelous parents. The coming challenges as provider and caretaker can’t be minimized. But each pregnancy, birth, and the rearing of a child is unique. You’ve made clear in this post, as your wife has elsewhere, that you’re aware of this unique aspect of being parents for YOUR daughter. Others close to you may have some useful ideas and insights, but for the present and future they’re no better than other sources of information you’ve used. When your daughter is born she’ll get her own unique and best qualified set of them. Lucky girl. :)

  • http://mihow.com mihow

    What a great post! I can’t wait to have one of my own. They end up doing things like this:

    http://memphis-it.net/shane/dumbestkid.gif

    and proud parents put animated gifs online for all of us to enjoy.

    I agree with Jerry, your daughter is one lucky girl indeed. :]

  • http://blurbomat.com/wordpress brent

    Itís so weird and so cool. As you know, we went through the birthing thing on 9.1.03 (at least that’s the day it finished). From the time the ‘water’ breaks to the time the nurses slap the kid on the ass you’re filled with all sorts of emotions and weird feelings including confusion, anticipation, hunger, elation, anxiety, and much, much more. You try and try to imaging what your offspring will look like and only when she pops into this world (and I mean POPS) youíll find out and say, ëoh, I didnít think of thatí and love her so much itís silly.

    Itís so weird and so cool, youíll love every second of it (having a kid).

  • http://sub-division.com stew

    At least the 2am wake ups will give you time to learn teh CSS3 stuff when it comes out :)

    nah I’m sure you’ll be a great dad 😀

  • Anya

    Been reading Dooce’s site for a good while now and just now checking yours out. Why? I can’t answer that. I will tell you that it is a good thing you married her, or else I might have. Girl thing aside. Anyhow, congrats to the both of you and if I knew y’all in the real world, I would come over with a bottle of Maker’s Mark to ring in the new addition to your fantastically witty family. Post labor of course. Cheers.

  • http://www.staceygeorge.com stacey

    I was alone when I had my son. His father, freaked out and ran away to Mexico. When the nurse brough “G” to me and placed him on my chest I looked at my friends and the hosptial staff and asked, “now what do I do?” You and Heather may feel the same with your first, but I envy her for having an involved, loving, anxious incredible Armstrong by her side to figure things out. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.

  • Tremorr

    You think YOU’RE terrified? Imagine how that kid feels after listening to you guys for the past nine months! Oy! She knows that she’s the first and that you will make all your 1st time parenting mistakes on her.

    Mrs Tremorr and I still giggle about the stupid things we believed and what we did to our first kid. Poor guy.

  • Michelle

    I’ve been reliving most of the very same worries and anxieties (and physical displeasures Heather puts so aptly) that you both are experiencing — which I felt before the birth of my son not so many (11) years ago.

    While you’re ultimately terrified over what to expect once your daughter is actually there, all I can truly say is don’t be. Your instincts will hone in and whatever medical or psychological advice you may need from time to time is available for you. Otherwise, you’ll both know what’s right and wrong and good and bad for the baby.

    11 years from now, you’ll be looking back thinking “Remember when when I changed your poopy diapers and rocked you to sleep humming a made-up lullabye?”

    Right now, I’d give anything to fret over my son as a baby instead of counting 5 years to him being old enough to drive and 7 years to him leaving for college!

    You and Heather have marvelously thinking heads on your shoulders and awesomely golden hearts. I wish you both only the very best with your baby daughter — Fawnzelle! :o)

  • http://www.agirlandaboy.com Leah

    As much as Dooce’s posts make me dread the physical discomfort of pregnancy, your posts make me want to go out and procreate right now. You two are going to be great. The freaking out is probably not even half as intense as the love will be.

  • dfack1

    From Top Five.com:
    The Top 16 Fatal Things to Say to Your Pregnant Wife
    (Part I)

    “Not to imply anything, but I don’t think the kid weighs forty pounds.”

    “Y’know, looking at her, you’d never guess that Pamela Lee had a baby!”

    “I sure hope your thighs aren’t gonna stay that flabby forever!”

    “Well, couldn’t they induce labor? The 25th is the Super Bowl.”

    “Damn if you ain’t about five pounds away from a surprise visit from that Richard Simmons fella.”

    “Fred at the office passed a stone the size of a pea. Boy, that’s gotta hurt.”

    “Whoa! For a minute there, I thought I woke up next to Willard Scott!”

    “I’m jealous! Why can’t men experience the joy of childbirth?”

    “Are your ankles supposed to look like that?”

    “Get your *own* ice cream, Buddha!”

    “Geez, you’re awfully puffy looking today.”

    “Got milk?”

    “Maybe we should name the baby after my secretary, Tawney.”

    “Man! That rose tattoo on your hip is the size of Madagascar!”

    “Retaining water? Yeah, like the Hoover Dam retains water.”

    and TopFive’s Number 1 Fatal Thing to Say to Your Pregnant Wife…

    “You don’t have the guts to pull the trigger, Lardass.”

    Join ClubTop5 and check out the Runners Up submissions for this list!

  • http://www.blurbomat.com dj blurb

    I’m close to deleting that last comment. It’s suspiciously spam-like. And not really that funny.

  • http://www.ferrousland.com coralie

    you really will love her to bits once you meet her. as to how you’ll manage not to squish her accidentally .. well, you probably will squish her, but as a new mum myself, i’ve found out that babies are amazingly resiliant.

    it’s a shame that dads can’t get a shot of the hormone which makes mums multi-tasking queens in the first week after they bring their babies home from hospital. then again, if they did, the mum couldn’t get all warm & fussy when the dad sees her opening the door with her foot, carrying three bags in each hand & a half full mcdonalds coke cup, plus the kid under one arm breastfeeding in a football hold & he says “wow. you can do *everything*!”

    yes. i have done this .. & for once i’m not even exaggerating.

  • april

    Oh, I dunno. I think you should keep the Top 16 list. It makes me feel so much better about my own sense of humor.

  • http://traveldreams.blogspot.com Abbey

    what a great pre-dad post. Quite sweet and enjoyable. I must say, I found you through dooce and you’ve been added to my fav list:)

  • http://lotus.substandard.org kym

    Rest assured, parenthood will be alternately worse and better than you ever expected. :)

  • http://www.elfcakes.com/blogg erika

    A very sweet post. Just give both your girls lots of hugs and hold her close. I can’t wait to see pictures!

  • adrienne

    very toucing.

    you and heather are lucky to have each other and that is one lucky little girl.

  • Fritz

    I moved to North Carolina from New York
    nine years ago. At the time my sister was living in North carolina and having a baby for the first time. All I have to say is this that nine years went by like a japanese bullet train. Congratulations enjoy the momment , keep that perspective.