39. The Road To Parenting

In a previously written post, “You Better Hurry Up,” I told the story of how my father very logically suggested that at 36 I was getting a little old for children. While I didn’t appreciate his interference, I did heed the advice. That was usually how we operated.

And so, when asked we would say, “we’re working on it.” As if this activity of ours to become pregnant was somehow a job to be ‘worked’ on with due diligence. Ah, if only all the other ‘jobs’ I’ve had over my career was so pleasant and produced such lovely and wonderful results. But I digress.

This was really my first characterization of myself as a parent. I wasn’t one yet, of course, but my mind was set and my intention clear; I would soon be a parent. And like any other job we’ve had before us, we worked as diligently as possible to produce the desired result.

Sure enough within a short time, we were able to announce that we were pregnant and the due date would be mid-July 1987.

Thus began our transformation from a happy childless couple to the exalted status of parents. Like most everyone in this situation, we had no clue what we were doing. There was so much to buy, a room to prepare, and a new lifestyle for which to prepare. There were baby showers, Lamaze classes, and nutrition classes to attend. There were endless trips to Toys-R-Us and equally endless trips to Home Depot. Every trip to every store would be an opportunity to check out the prices for diapers, baby wipes, and lotions. Mental notes were taken and filed for later use. There were seemingly endless trips to the doctor for checkups and the all important ultrasound pictures. These pictures became the ultimate party favor at every gathering where debates would be conducted on the prospective sex of the newborn.

Then there were all the new laws. Crib bars had to a certain distance apart, car baby seats were designated for newborns and then for certain ages and weights of children, and virtually every toy had some sort of warning label meant to guide parents as to what safety and age level for which the toy was rated. This was all new. When I was a very young boy I got in the car, we went to the toy store, and my parents bought a toy for me. There were no special seats, safety belts, and especially no warning labels on every toy. Now that was all changed.

During this period, I experienced something called ‘sympathetic weight gain.’ As my wife got bigger month after month, so did I. Then after the baby was born and she returned to her normal weight, so did I. It was the strangest feeling to be gaining weight for the first time in my life and then to lose it right away afterward, but I gained a profound appreciation for one of the things my wife was going through.

We had tried to maintain as normal a life as possible through her pregnancy. Normal, that is, given the doctor’s appointments and all of the other special activities that were happening around us. Then, just to make sure we were paying attention, there were the false labor trips to the hospital. After a few of these I got pretty good at being ready and getting her to the hospital in good order. But I also was less tense and urgent about the whole thing. It was almost like a “crying wolf’ experience. So much so that when the ‘real’ labor came, we took our time and got to the hospital without much urgency at all. Luckily, there wasn’t a need for the urgency.

When we entered the maternity ward of St Luke’s Hospital we were immediately surprised. It looked like someone’s bedroom. Sure, there were nurses milling about doing nurse type things, but there was a regular bed and furniture as though we were in someone’s home. I don’t know why no one in our family ever mentioned this, but as intended, it had an immediate calming effect.

When finally my wife was ready, we went into the birthing room. I felt as though I had been there before. I recognized the green colors and the polished stainless steel walls right away. But how could I? Yes, I was born in this very same room 38 years earlier, but how could I have recognized everything? I felt very strange about it, but there were other things to do of much greater importance, like hold my wife’s hand. That’s pretty much what the husband gets to do.

Then, on the 22nd of July, 1987 we became the proud parents of our daughter Sarah. The nurse checked her out, cleaned her up, handed her to me, and said, “she’s perfect.” Never were two more accurate words ever spoken. When the new Momma was ready, I handed Sarah to her and we both hugged her together. It was a life changing moment and one that will never be forgotten.

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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26 Responses to 39. The Road To Parenting

  1. Mags Corner says:

    Just beautiful! I enjoyed reading this so much.

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  2. Lisa says:

    I detest the timelines others impose on us. I heard over and over again ‘why aren’t you married yet? Are you gay?’ because I was in my thirties and not married. Then when someone did sneak up on me and catch me unawares (I was going to be a hermit in the woods with dogs and writing), the questions changed to ‘when are you going to get pregnant, you’re not getting any younger’. Why must people demand conformity? I got pregnant at 36. Now, when my siblings are all grandparents, I have an 18 year old son who is still as perfect as he was in that moment of birth. In spite of homework issues and trying to find a job and driving, and relationships…he’s perfect. Thank you for that reminder.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      I agree, but my father’s question/suggestion wasn’t mean spirited. It just woke me up to the realities a little. Thanks for stopping by, I’m glad you liked the post.

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      • Lisa says:

        Good point. I don’t think any of the multiple comments I got were ever given in a mean spirit. Most people genuinely thought I would be happier married. At least I never took them as coming in a mean spirit. I just got so tired of hearing it all the time, and tired of the assumption that 1) you can’t be happy if single and 2) you just think you don’t want to be married because you have nothing to compare it to. I guess the assumption that I don’t know what I want, is what my dislike boiled down to.

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  3. ksbeth says:

    what a beautiful telling of this precious story.

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  4. what a touching story

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  5. My daughter gave birth in 1987 under similar circumstances. I even, at her invitation and her husband’s, got to video it all, including the baby being placed on her belly for the first time. My granddaughter and I have been velcro-ed ever since, maybe because my thumb and back rubs soothed her as not much else did when she cried constantly for ten months. What a glorious day when she found her own thumb!

    But I’m responding here because my daughter and her husband were given a tour of Yale-New Haven Hospital before the birth. My daughter’s reaction. Oh mom! You gave birth in a torture chamber. Well, I wouldn’t have called it that, but it certainly was a far cry from the circumstance they enjoyed in 1987.

    Your story is so very beautifully presented. Thanks.

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  6. JT, Your post brought three things to my mind: 1. Must remember the feeling of holding that small perfection in my hands….then see every student of mine….every person, more this way in thinking of them in the best ways humanly possible…2. Same green room. You were there before…cool!.. Reminds me of heart places 3. Expectations and realities……I must expect positive …feel good…I believe in the law of attraction. My goal today…..to SMILE more than yesterday. With posts like this, I feel this will certainly happen for me. Thanks for a lovely story……and for helping me to think.

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  7. 22 july 93 was my first 🙂 It was so nice to read the Mans view….Heartfelt and wonderful to read. You’re a great Husband 😉

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  8. This is truly rewarding to be reading your post..I absolutely love it..I pray and hope that I have a baby soon so I could experience it as well!

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  9. davidprosser says:

    Yes, there’s no feeling quite like holding that small piece of perfection in your hands for the first time. Of course it often goes downhill from there like when they learn to talk, question, debate etc but at that stage we’re innocents. By the teenage years it’s hard to define who rules the roost but you know it isn’t you so you might as well just pass over your wallet.
    There’s one dream to keep in mind though, and that’s that eventually they’ll leave home and marry and you can get to the grandchildren and make sure they inflict everything on our children that out children inflicted on us.
    In honesty parenthood is a great privilege and if we’re meant to have children they complete us as people. If we’re very lucky, we have great friends for life.

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  10. vicbriggs says:

    Heartwarming and great storytelling. That is strange about you recognising the room you were born in. A lovely coincidence.

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