Suddenly Parents

Keeping Our Sanity During Baby's First Year

Guest Post: The Adorable Abyss of Infancy

This is a guest post written by my husband, Rich. I think it is interesting to read things from the male perspective – especially since most of what I read only pertains to me and how I may be feeling instead of him.

So, to this point I haven’t put to paper any thinking around this whole procreation thing. Like any first time parent, the whole exercise is fairly academic until the little sucker pops out into the
world. This is especially so for me. I grew up in a fairly typical nuclear family. My house looked just like the kind you’d find in the movie, American Beauty. I have one cousin, who lives several states away. I do have a little brother but I have no memory of his infancy as I was only two years old when he was born. Other than the occasional neighbor’s baby shower, my exposure to the tiniest humans is fairly nil. I was, however, a neighborhood swim coach for a few years. When it comes to ages six through 18, I feel I have at least a little perspective on what makes each stage of life tick. But there remains a sizable gap in my experiences from age 0 to six. To me, it’s a mysterious abyss filled with spit up, diapers, maybe a few instances of placing thermometers in obscene places as well as a total disruption of all that has been familiar in life thus far. I also hear there’s some sort of indescribable sense of fulfillment that appears seemingly at random – but sometimes elusively not showing up until a full six months into parenthood. My friends who have heeded the evolutionary call thus far always begin commentary by heralding the changes in their lives in a wide-eyed, prophetic and almost desperate manner. They always end with some sort of statement meant to assuage my fears and convince me that “it’s the best thing that could ever happen to me.” I have yet to reconcile how such tumult could be paired utter joy, but I’m trusting the fact that we humans have continued to choose procreation throughout more difficult circumstances and that in the end it’s a worthwhile venture.

If my family is of the nuclear variety, Katherine’s is a squadron of B-52s loaded with dozens of high-yield nuclear warheads. As a good Catholic family, she had 7 siblings and more cousins than my brain has thus far been able to track. When our friends invited me to change a diaper for the first time, Katherine coached me through the process in a cool, knowing manner. Babies made their way in and out of her house growing up constantly. God bless her mother. These experiences have given Katherine a firm base of operation upon which I will gladly lean during those first critical and unfamiliar months. I’ll certainly jump up to help feed, change and clean the leaky little human, but I will default to her expertise on the finer points.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I was built to be a father. I enjoyed coaching kids and am always enamored by other people’s children. I
firmly believe that raising a human who can contribute positively to the world is the noblest thing a person can do. On the other hand, I have also firmly enjoyed the freedoms associated with a childless life. Though, when I look back on the last few years, I can see the pull of a Tuesday night at the pub or a Sunday hangover severely decreasing in its power and frequency. In fact, I spend more time in front of the TV than pursuing the extreme sporting ventures my 12 year old self had envisioned. When I think about it, it’s time to have kids. I’m happily married and in my mid-30′s, I have a firm base of friends who live around me and are starting to have kids. I have always wanted kids. So…logically, it’s time. In fact, part of me believes that if I waited any longer, I would grow too accustomed with the leisure and selfishness of taking care of myself. This will be good for me, my wife and those around us. I’m not afraid of losing my freedom as I know friends and family will always step in when we need a break. I’m not even afraid of the process of raising a child in my somewhat familiar age range of six to 18. But for now, I face the unknown abyss of infancy. I feel like I’m a long-haired medieval knight breathing heavily as his ship approaches foreign soil. I know not what lies ahead other than the opportunity for great highs and terrible lows. I am excited, terrified and resolved to do my best. All I have to do is keep her alive, right?

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  1. Rich, I’m glad to have done my part in helping Katherine with her baby expertise by providing ample poopy diapers from Kristi and Scott. Please feel free to send Baby Wilson to Uncle Ken’s and Aunt Martha’s anytime!

  2. You rock, Martha. Thanks for that…and for the poopy diapers.