I’ve never been good at keeping secrets.
I have a passion for sharing news. In fact, I’ve made a career out of it. In my experience, stories are meant to be shared, not socked away.
But here I am, doing everything in my power to keep the biggest secret of my life–the most exciting story I’ve had to share in a long time–when all I want to do is shout it from the rooftops.
MY WIFE IS PREGNANT!
WE’RE HAVING A BABY!
I’M GOING TO BE A DAD!
A dad. What a word. I’ve been rolling that identity over and over again in my head for almost a week now, ever since that horizontal blue line crossed with the vertical blue line last Sunday morning to confirm that, as it says on the box, I am 90 percent more accurately already a dad.
I have a dad. Lots of my friends are dads. But to suddenly become one myself? Surreal. What do I do? How do I own this title? How do I ensure that I live up to it?
These questions are too big to tackle right now. My mind is racing. Let’s think shorter-term. I guess that summer cruise to Europe is permanently on hold. We better plan a more immediate getaway.
OK, even shorter term. How am I supposed to exist in the real world when you’re not supposed to announce a pregnancy until the three-month mark? How am I going to make it through the next family dinner without saying something revelatory or inadvertently joking about it? How am I going to make it through the work day without dropping hints about my new status? No one around me knows that they are now in the presence of a dad. Oh, how I long to enlighten them.
As a Catholic, this news couldn’t have come at a more coincidental (or divinely inspired?) time. First of all, we found out on Saint Nick’s Day, or as it’s heralded on the Polish side of my family, Mikolaj. Normally you have to hang up a stocking to get a present from Mikolaj. This year, my wife just had to pee on a piece of plastic.
This week has also featured the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (which celebrates Mary’s conception, not her conception of Jesus). As we attended Mass to fulfill this Holy Day of Obligation, I was struck by the number of newly noticeable babies in the church. I saw the Ghosts of Immaculate Conception Future as two young parents kept swapping their smiling babe back and forth throughout the homily. At least he was happy…Another baby wailed incessantly from an unseen corner of the church.
At the Prayers of the Faithful, my wife and I got an unexpected shoutout, as the congregation joined in prayer for “all expectant parents.” First week as a dad and I’m already getting prayers. Sweet.
It’s also fitting that this is happening during Advent. Aside from better understanding the anticipation that Mary and Joseph must have felt to know there was a baby on the way, the next couple months will be an extended period of Advent-like waiting for me, as I sit on my hands and try not to tell a soul about our joyous news.
As for you, my unborn child, there are immediate questions and concerns that are already bubbling up in my newly paternal mind:
1. What do I call you until I know your gender? We’ve decided to go with female pronouns, so please forgive me if we find out differently in a few months. And we do plan to find out. I was never sure how I would feel about that issue, but five minutes after knowing you exist, I already want to know as much about you as possible.
2. To that end, we did some Googling to see what you might be up to right now. Please be careful in there. The Internet tells us that you are already the size of an orange seed, and that your heart will be fully formed shortly. Hold still and don’t mess this up, please. Listen to your Dad. This won’t be the last time you hear that phrase. You might as well know now that I recently became a cancer survivor and we weren’t even supposed to be having you for at least a year. I’m praying that it was a precaution and not an indicator of increased risk. I hope you’re doing OK.
3. Lastly, what can I do for you right now? I think about you constantly, even though you have to remain my orange seed-sized secret. I’m already scolding your mother any time she lifts anything the least bit heavy. We’re going to the doctor in a week to make sure you’re real and that the foolproof pregnancy test isn’t making baby-crazy fools out of us. Beyond that, I guess I can just keep sharing my feelings on Pop’s secret blog until you start demanding more of our attention.
It’s not often that you wake up on a Sunday morning and realize that your life has changed forever because you’re in the process of bringing a new life into the world. I’m quite sure the enormity of that statement hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m walking on air and excited for all that lies ahead. Bring it on, baby!