My son is now just shy of 15 months old. Two years ago, when my wife and I learned that she was pregnant, I was flooded by a number of emotions. We had both decided to try and we each wanted a family – but I can remember very clearly that the largest emotion I felt was stress. I didn’t need a monitor to tell me – I knew my blood pressure was through the roof. I took lots of walks to try and clear my head. It was obvious, and I couldn’t hide it from my wife. How do you fix a head filled with angst and anxiety about the unknown that lies ahead?
We had talked at length about having a baby – starting a family. I wanted it more than anything. In fact, that’s why my first marriage ended, after my ex-wife decided post-wedding that she no longer had any intentions to start a family. So why the heck was I so stressed?
Well, looking back, I can say it was just a monumentally scary thing to me. I would be responsible for another life, forever. Over time that stress level faded some and as we reached his birth the day-to-day, minute-to-minute business of taking care of him made those larger fears disappear. I was too busy changing diapers and trying to calm my little banshee to worry much about if I’d do a good job raising a good, self-sufficient man. I tend to worry and plan for the long-term, but the immediacy of the short-term crowded out those concerns.
And, even a year back I would have laughed hard when asked by family members if we intended to have another. Let’s face it – having a baby is like jumping into the deep end without ever learning to swim first. For months we were drowning in a sea of screams, burps and vomits. Our little man had a temper from the day he was born. It took him a while to adjust to life on the outside. I can admit he drove his parents to tears more than a few times.
And then we endured the fits and starts towards sleep. We expected the three hour shifts of feeding, changing and sleeping as a newborn. What we didn’t expect was the broken sleep to continue for quite so long. My wife and I traded off shifts, weary soldiers passing in the night. He’d suddenly sleep long stretches, sometimes even for 8 straight hours! Taunting us into thinking we’d made it through. And the next day he’d wake up every hour. He went through a period where he lost his pacifier every 15 minutes and wasn’t able to find or replace it himself. Those were some long nights.
At seven months, the skies cleared and suddenly he was happy, healthy and sleeping well. Our son, who had driven us to tears was suddenly the happiest, cutest, most adorable little boy we had ever seen. His temper turned out to be a small part of his strong passionate streak – he can get angry, certainly, but much more often he’s happy. Incredibly, adorably happy. Coming from two parents who aren stoic, it is amazing to see how he is just full of smiles and joy. And it’s contagious.
When he gets excited over a new toy he runs in place doing his “happy feet”. When he sees anyone he recognizes, or even any stranger who smiles at him? He flashes a gigantic smile, his round cheeks jutting out behind his pacifier. He chases our cats around, giggling at them and playing peek-a-boo through the pet door down to the basement. He has the most adorable, infectious laugh – and he loves me to wrestle with him and chase him around and tickle him. I cannot get enough of that laugh, it can wash away the stresses and problems of a thousand years’ worries. He is the love of our lives.
So, it is with tremendous happiness that my wife and I are announcing that we’re expecting another baby later this year. No long walks, no high blood pressure this time. I have my little man to chase and tickle to remind me that there’s no reason to worry. It may be difficult and it may take some time. But it will all be worth it and more.