38 weeks later

How time flies. You’d think if you’re counting the weeks, and you’re counting up 38 of them, you’ve got so much time. That’s 38 x 7 days, which is… (mental maths) 266…ish days? That’s a decent number of days!

The secret you learn after finding out is that these dates are approximations. No-one can quite pinpoint the starting or ending date, so there’s a rule-of-thumb that is applied, and it only lands on the actual date about 5% of the time.

Now, if you’re clueless like I was 38 or so weeks ago, what I’m talking about here is pregnancy.

I’m about to be a father. Indeed, any day now, it would seem. As of this week, from a medical standpoint, the baby is good to go.

No one asks the parents-to-be if they’re good to go, because frankly speaking, I’m not sure we are. There’s no textbook, no accredited course, no licence, no piece of paper they’ll hand you to say it’s ok, you can probably handle what is coming. We’ve done our best, we’re doing the classes, we’re working through everything we think we need, we have all the advice we could hope for & then some, but how do you actually know you’re ready to be a first-time parent? I’d posit that you just don’t. It happens and then you figure it out.

Kinda like life, only even more so, because now you’re doing it for yourself as well as for another life that’s entirely dependent on you.

In my head, I wanted to write this every week, to document the process along the way, but I’ve shied away from doing so publicly. Where I started this blog, or something along those lines in any case, about 19 years ago (!), I wrote freely like it was a diary. I was hidden in some corner of the internet, and I had an intimate audience of friends reading. Now, I doubt those same friends are reading, but I’ve chosen to expose myself in a more public way, and it makes it somewhat performative, and that makes me more restricted in what I’m willing to say.

But I digress.

Over 38 weeks ago, my wife & I had a conversation in the midst of the global pandemic, and it went along the lines of “are we ready? I think we are,” and then a surprisingly short period of time later, my wife asked to stop by the pharmacy on a Sunday morning walk “just to check something”.

It was what I’d hoped for, but I’m still not sure it was what I was prepared for. Life started to change its focus in a way that I had absolutely not planned, at least not for this particular year.

The journey from tentative doctor visit (oh boy were we not prepared, and she knew it) to family announcement (oh boy were they surprised) to follow-up checks to blood tests to sonograms to more checks to more tests to… well, it’s been a bit of a loop, but one that’s ever-ascending, as we see this little bundle of stuff grow from something alien & unrecognisable to something that very much appears to be a child, just about ready to go inside my wife. Truly this is a near-miraculous thing, and yet so natural, so commonplace that everyone you know has been through it one way or another.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the global pandemic, we have been incredibly fortunate that things have gone well for her. I’ve had a mild anxiety throughout that the worst could happen, that something would go wrong, and we’d have to put aside our hopes & dreams for a bit, but at each turn, it appears to have gone exactly as you’d expect, and we’ve been incredibly supported by those near & dear to us.

Some aspects have been missed – the pandemic did put paid to holiday plans, and the swing back & forth into restrictions made some of the stage experiences disappear. A modest social life has almost entirely disappeared in the face of endemic risk, the “what-if” of transmission. I hope we’re able to resume it soon, but who knows with this past year. My friends, I hope you’re understanding & patient with us. (I sure hope you are, given how many of you have kids already!)

Officially, we don’t know the gender. Unofficially, I’m pretty sure, given the regular scans. The main difference it makes is in the list of names to consider, because no matter which way, I’m going to do my utmost to make sure this child makes its way in the world supported as best I can.

The weeks have a way of sharpening the focus on that particular topic, too. Where I had hoped and acted in a way that would try to help the planet, now, there’s something more acute to it, something & someone that I must act in the best interest of even more so than before. I hope this little one can grow up in a world that’s still reasonably like the one I grew up in, and whilst I know the built environment will be more different than ever, I hope that the natural environment will give them what I’ve enjoyed. The 2019-2020 Australian fires had a way to sharpen the mind on what we need to keep sacred. Little one, I hope you never have to experience that, and I fear that you’ll experience it even more than I have.

We don’t have a house like we’d been hoping to have done by now. We don’t have all the research done, we don’t have experience, we don’t have all of the things people have recommended, because have you seen the lists that get handed around? wow that’s a lot of stuff.

But what we do have is enough. We have a car, a baby seat, a cot, some stuff to wrap the baby up in, hand-me-downs from their cousins, and a pit of worry in my stomach that won’t go away for I guess the next 20 years? Because that’s my life now, and this little one is going to be the centre of it.

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