Pre-Baby Thoughts

I realized a little while ago that I wanted to be sure to write a blog post that captures my thoughts right before our first child is born. It is a unique time to be writing. With everything after this, I’ll know what it’s like to have a kid. It’s like reading spoilers for the end of a movie or show – I can’t unlearn it or pretend it never happened. Later, I’m sure I will look back on these thoughts, realize how naive I am at this moment, and laugh in pity. I also get that the hardest job in the giving birth thing will always be Gina’s and that I’m merely observing. But since our lives are going to fundamentally change in just a few days, or next week, or tomorrow or whenever – pretty soon – I’m going to try to organize some of my thoughts as we wait.

You can read that last sentence with an emphasis on the “try,” because I’ve increasingly been feeling like I’m forgetting things and losing focus. I’m sleeping basically okay, but I guess this whole situation is distracting me a lot more than I consciously realize. For instance, I let my car safety inspection sticker expire and didn’t even realize it until it was two calendar months past the date. I’m lucky I was never pulled over. Maybe I’m experiencing sympathy memory loss?

Also, there’s a lot of hurry up and wait in the final few weeks of pregnancy, I’ve found. We’ve made a lot of preparations and spent a ton of money like drunk monkeys, but now all we can do is just literally wait for the little guy to arrive. Gina is going a little stir crazy now that she’s staying home. I’m finding myself trying to wrap up everything that comes across my desk at work really quickly, or if I know I can’t finish something, to hand it off to others as soon as possible in case I get that call in the middle of a workday. That makes me feel alternately productive and lazy during the day; it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride. I’m sure it’s worse for Gina. I can only suppose that as we approach the delivery date, time will slow down to an infinite crawl as if we were approaching the event horizon of a black hole. Maybe it’s a good thing that I can’t keep my head on straight, because trying to remember stuff could help me pass more of the infinitely-waiting black-hole time.

Besides being unable to manage space and time (you need a TARDIS for that), I also definitely have an underlying sense of excitement. I can appreciate the magnitude of this parenting thing, and I can vaguely understand how difficult it’s going to be at times, even though I obviously haven’t seen anything yet. At this point we’ve both heard all the different iterations of advice from parents of all ages. I know that people are just compelled to share their horror stories and unsolicited advice, and that’s fine because I’m sure we’ll use it at some point or another. But not being one to back away from a challenge, I am eager to put my own stamp on fatherhood. So then I can turn around to the next new Dad I find and repay all the unsolicited advice favors, keeping the cycle going into eternity. Overall, I am honestly just very excited to get started.

There’s one piece of “advice” I’ve heard in various forms I simply do not subscribe to: the idea that our personal lives are going to end once we have children. Our family life is going to be whatever we want to work hard to make, dang it. We will do fun stuff. Gina and I will continue to do creative things independently, but better yet we will also nurture our children’s creativity. Life isn’t going to end. I get that I won’t have as much time to devote to things and our priorities will shift and all that, but really this will be just a kind of beginning.

You might ask yourself: Bret, what about anxiety? Do you have any of that? Well, there was a little, but most of that went away when I decided not to try doing too much and as we got more things done around the house. I had a nice goal to get the entire inside of the house painted, but that idea wasn’t absolutely necessary for baby prep, and Gina convinced me to wait until much later to finish. It’s hard for me to give up on something once I’ve convinced my head to do it, but I am thankful now that she talked some sense into me.

Anxiety can often be followed by exhaustion, and I definitely can identify with that. It’s just been a marathon since September, with something new to worry about every day. We were so innocent in the summer, thinking that we had all the time in the world, but then the time snuck up and kicked us in the shins. I’ve learned a lot over these few months, however, and when I get the chance, I’ll look back and wonder how we did it all.

Again, all of these thoughts are a little jumbled, just like our lives right now. But I do get the sense that we’re on the eve of a great adventure, even as I perpetually feel like I’m forgetting something.

In the end, I really just can’t wait to meet the little guy and give him a high five. Let’s get started already!

80% Chance of Baby Showers

I remember registering for our wedding. It was cool because we were somehow becoming adults and moving into our own place, so we definitely needed all the things that real adults need to have, like toasters and cutting boards and vacuum cleaners and what have you. So I got to hold the special registration gun and walk the entire surface area of several department stores, scanning items and making laser noises, all while Gina fretted about choosing the two bathroom color schemes for our apartment. We had some wedding showers, people brought gifts to the reception – it was great.

I guess I never fully thought about the next natural parallel, registering for baby gifts and the resultant baby showers, but I’ve definitely been getting a crash course over the last few months. There’s still the same magic registration gun and still many stores to explore, but at least for me, I quickly realized that every bleep of the magic gun was adding something else to our registries that I had absolutely no prior knowledge of.

For one, there are entire categories of baby products – nay, entireĀ industries that I could never even fathom would be profitable. Pick the smallest detail of parenting or caring for a newborn, and I guarantee you there are no fewer than four or five companies who only exist to make a product with one very specific function to handle that detail that will be useful for at best a few months. Each of these will cost upwards of $299.

Wait a minute, that’s exactly how these companies stay in business. They know they have just one chance to cash in on prospective parents, so they hit your wallet right when you’re most vulnerable.

The one category of baby product that breaks the $299 rule is, of course, the strollers. Here, the sky is the limit. Much like shopping for a car, when you go to the stroller showroom, a strange feeling that you’re getting ripped off by the salesman washes over you as you try to play it cool. Like watching a good magician, you know the trick is coming but you just can’t see it.

Anyway, taking the car analogy a few steps further, you could easily buy anything from the “Tesla of baby strollers” to something more akin to the “1984 Honda Civic of baby strollers,” as your budget allows. The higher up you go, the more elaborate the features get, while the units themselves get lighter and lighter, since they go from being largely made of plastic, to metals, then on to carbon composites before graduating to materials apparently harvested from stolen alien technology from the distant future. After examining many models, we got suckered into settled on the “BMW of baby strollers.”

If our stroller came with a cool guy with 80's mustache too, I might be able to convince Gina to go the Civic route.
Although, if the Civic strollers came with a cool driver with 80’s mustache too, I might be able to convince Gina to go that route.

Stroller financing aside, after registering for several other things that I felt certain no one would want to buy for us, we finally published our registries to the world and hoped for the best, while I continued to struggle to understand the differences between and functionality of various baby bottle accessories.

I must say, however, that I’ve been surprised and amazed many times since then. We’ve now been through four or five baby-shower-type events, with each comprised of different groups of people who are important to us in some way. Throughout these, my initial worries were proven silly, and we are much, much better prepared for this child thanks to the generosity of all of you! We feel very blessed and fortunate to be part of such a great support network, and we’ve been able to check off most of the essentials from our list as time has gone on. I may not know what all of this stuff does or where we’re going to store it from now on, but I thank anybody and everybody who contributed from the bottom of my heart!

In return, you can come fawn over our baby… when we’re home and have visiting hours. Assuming you’ve had your flu shot. (Sorry, we don’t make the rules.) (Well, we do, but also the doctors.)