Editor’s Note: I wrote this the night before my son Charlie was born. As I try to find time to write up the birth story before the freshness of it fades, I thought I would share this post from a week ago, written by a Dad waiting for his second time around.
The room is silent. The crib is empty. The sheets are fresh.
In a nearby closet, the newborn diapers are at the ready.
A wooden plaque on the wall spells out a name that we have yet to reveal to the world.
We’re all waiting. And the waiting can do weird things to your brain.
For nearly nine months, we have been prepping our hearts, minds and home for the arrival of this new person that we helped to create. We know he’s a boy. We know things will be different when he gets here. And we know that he’s running late.
But ironically, it’s kind of easy to forget that he’s a person. When you’re quote-unquote “having a baby”—especially when it’s not your first child—it’s easy to start thinking about that baby as an object or a chore—an undeniably cute, sweet-smelling chore, but a chore nevertheless. Everyone warns you about the switch to playing “man-to-man” defense and how hard it will be to leave the house. You thought life was complex with one kid? Just wait. Everything will be so much harder soon.
And, yeah, I get that. But I think I was a little too focused on what we will have to do to survive the newborn stage again, and I wasn’t thinking enough about the newborn himself. I don’t think it was until I saw (most of) his face on the ultrasound last night that I was truly excited about getting to meet my new son—as a person.
I’ve mentioned this dozens of times on this blog, but my favorite parts about being a father so far have been watching my daughter learn about the world around her and seeing her personality take shape. I love the influence that I can try to exert in both of those arenas1, as well as all the uncontrollable variables that are just inherent in her temperament and soul. And now I’m about to get the immense privilege of watching that happen all over again from the beginning!
Dirty diapers and middle-of-the-night feedings are an unavoidable and expected part of the parenting experience. They are the torture you must endure to get to the good parts—a newborn baby sleeping on your chest, the first real smile, the first game of peek-a-boo that gets a response, the first time your child actually recognizes you or calls you by (some) name. Once they become fully interactive, the milestones start flying and you can barely recall those halcyon days when they relied on you for literally everything.
But when I look back at early baby pictures of Maddie, I see flashes of the little girl who now waits by the window for me to come home from work these days.
Now that I know how quickly the time will fly and how hard it will be to remember, I plan to double down on my efforts to stop in the moment to take a mental snapshot of whatever stage we’re at with baby number two.
The waiting game seems long, but I know life’s going to move even faster once the kid shows up.