With Aya now in her second trimester, the tone of her pregnancy has started to change. She’s no longer nauseous anymore, and the intense cravings have subsided making cooking and meal planning easier. It’s also nice our pregnancy isn’t a secret anymore and I can openly and freely talk (vent) about things. But I’m finding that the pregnancy this time around has been very different than with Ellie and it’s been difficult to connect with it.
With Ellie, I had nothing but time to think and prepare. Sometimes, too much time. For one, I read the whole What to Expect When You’re Expecting book (among others). Aya didn’t read it, I did. Which by the way, I was very disappointed by the chapter for dads. More than half the chapter was about how fathers shouldn’t expect to get any for awhile. Really!? I was taken back. Is that all an expecting father is supposedly really worried about? Your wife is growing life inside her belly, you have a baby on the way that will change your life forever, and all the father is worried about is getting his groove on? This wasn’t helpful at all.
Anyway, all this time to think, read and prepare gave me a lot of anxious energy and I needed to do something constructive with it. Aya had her job; to grow a baby. But what was my job, other than making sure she was comfortable?
I felt useless. I needed to contribute and do my part. I went to all the pre-natal appointments, cooked more, gladly took the pregnancy classes together, but that didn’t seem enough. I needed to do more. So, I focused on preparing the house for Ellie’sarrival. We gutted her room and the bathroom to be completely redone before she was born. This was the perfect project to pour all my energy into. And it was during those long nights of working alone in the rooms when I would get lost in my thoughts of fantasizing about life with a baby, life as a family, and life as a father.
Like I said, we had nothing but time to think and prepare. It was hard not to feel connected from this experience because that’s all we did. Baby baby baby!
But with this baby, things are much different. There is no time. Taking care of Ellie all day leaves me with little mental space to think about what’s going on. Not to mention, we don’t need to tear the house apart, we don’t have to plan any baby showers or do a lot of shopping, and I know what life with a baby is like. So that constant daily physical task that reminds you of a coming baby isn’t here. It’s no surprise I that I often forget we are having a second kid. I knew Aya was feeling similar things too. “Am I really pregnant?” she’d keep asking.
With both of us wanting to feel more connected to our baby on the way, we were very excited to have our first birth center appointment and get to hear the heartbeat of our baby. That would make things more “real” for sure, right? But unfortunately, the baby was too low and we couldn’t hear the heartbeat. The mid-wife had the doppler up to Aya’s belly and all we could hear was her stomach growling and the faint sounds of her own heartbeat. We all sat there silently on the edge of our seat trying desperately to hear it. I felt like we were playing Beatles records backwards listening for subliminal messages. “I think I heard something!”
But no luck. Not that time.
A month later though, we had an ultrasound appointment and not only did we hear the heartbeat, but we also saw our baby too. A clear image of our baby complete with arms, legs, fingers and toes! The thing we often forgot about and wanted to verify was indeed “real” and was right in front of our eyes. Wow, we were pregnant. We were having another baby. And we were also excited to find out we were having another girl.
The confirmation was great, but I was surprised how this experience felt less emotional than the first. For Ellie, my heart was thumping loudly inside my stomach and my eyes were watering the whole time. Partly because I was amazed, and partly because I was afraid. “Did she have all her parts and pieces?” I had never seen an ultrasound before either and was confused at what I was looking at. I felt certain we were having a girl too and everything I saw on the screen I thought were a pair of balls. (Not that I wouldn’t have been happy with a boy, but my insecurities of not being a “guy’s guy” made me afraid of having a son). But with the fear of the unknown missing, this was much less intense. Was there something wrong with me?
It all makes sense, but I felt a little guilty. I’m a younger sibling, and I think I’m already over-protective of my second born, wanting everything to be as equally special for her. I realize they won’t be the same, and I don’t want them to be, but I don’t want to discount experiences with her just because we’ve “been there done that.”
But I also realize you can’t force an emotional response. Sometimes wanting to feel something too much blocks you from actually feeling it. So I’ve decided that my lack of intensity and feelings of being disconnected aren’tbecause I feel anything less or don’t care, but because I’m more confident as a parent and a father.
I know I will be the best father I know how, and when the moment is right, I will get that special feeling with this baby. I know when she comes I’ll have open arms and an open heart ready to welcome her into the world.