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Monday, January 4, 2010

Fatherhood 7 Months in…

Recently I found myself locked in a dark room with a 21 year old university student and before your mind wanders in the wrong direction I should point out he was a new employee I was training at work.

In between threading up movies and watching the clock we began discussing more topics than your average chimpanzee might over a bright yellow banana from religion, political philosophy (whatever that is) to the life and death hypothetical’s they throw at students these days, like “If you were in a life boat with five other people and one of you had to be thrown overboard to save the other 4 then what would you do?”

He couldn’t get over how my Christian beliefs would throw me overboard as the one most likely to live forever while giving the other 4 a chance to live long enough to meet their creator this side of the grave.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, as most such discussions go it came to the age old questions about the ethical demise of abortion and people like me who refuse to be anything but black and white on the issue.

This chapter is not about abortion but rather the direction the conversation went. He wanted to know what my view would be if an 18 year old girl were to fall pregnant after taking all “reasonable” precautions, with her sparkling career before her and a whole life about to be shattered by the arrival of a baby; would I consider it reasonable for her to have an “a” word ?

Did I mention that this article is not about abortion?

My answer focused on the following.

The fact that any of us are here at all is an absolutely phenomenal miracle.

Before we got married my wonderful wife and I were surrounded by couples who were wrestling with their unfulfilled desire to have children. It’s painful to get caught up in a conversation with a woman longing to duplicate her genes but for whatever reason, often an unknown reason, can’t. Seeing someone in that sort of pain, trapped in longing, can only be compared to someone who is mourning the death of someone they loved very much, only in this case the person they loved dearly hasn’t even been born yet and the grave is her own empty womb.

You can pat these people on the back and say “there there” but what else can you do?

It was in these later months of our 7 year “courting” that Sarah and I decided to pray about our own hopes for a family and this is what we said, “Dear Lord, we would love to have a family but only if and when you think we’re ready. Otherwise we will be happy just to serve you, in Jesus name, Amen.” (non verbatim)

We fell pregnant the week we got married.

Someone might argue it was all the zinc in the shell fish I was eating that week or even the impeccable timing of our wedding day but I believe God didn’t just answer our prayer; he also complimented us by saying, “Yep, I think you’re ready.”

That was miracle number one.

Then comes the next 9 months of your wife changing experience, like she was Doctor Who or a caterpillar, and in my case it wasn’t a bad thing. In my younger years I thought pregnant women were as attractive as a tyre factory; but that wasn’t my experience at all. My wife was beautiful.

I better not get too carried away here, I am after all meant to be talking about the Miracle…

When you’re a pregnant Dad for the first time you become a sort of freaked out wide eyed hypochondriactic nutrition ridden wombat. Seriously, not that I know what a wombat does when its at home but over and over again you are reminded of all the things you can eat, all the things you shouldn’t eat, all the things you actually ate but wish you hadn’t eaten. Too much fish has too much mercury; no pate, no Christmas Pudding, no hot pools no sky-diving, everything becomes a matter of should I shouldn’t I. I must have woken up 270 times during the course of the pregnancy to remind Sarah to roll over onto her left hand side because if you lie on your back there’s some artery your baby can squash and consequently kill you. Frankly you get the impression that when you become pregnant you become this great big self destruct button that just about anything can successfully push. You wake up a further 3 times a night because you’re being kicked in the ribs by something inside your wife’s stomach that feels like a chipmunk with a jack hammer!

Then there are the medical things like my wife happened to be O negative. So what? Well turns out when you’re O negative and have a baby with a positive blood type you can potentially develop anti bodies that might kill off any future babies with positive blood types, provided their blood comes into contact with yours. Its called Rhesus negative and it sucks. But don’t worry, the doctors have a special vaccine called “Anti D” that will save the day and keep you populating the globe for as long as you can before the Carbon Taxes stop you. (Thankfully our little tiger was A negative so we got a green light for more youngsters to join the Gedge army…)

Then there are the multiple things that can go wrong when the baby is born. Some ladies can get a thing called Group B strep which is a nasty bacteria that would otherwise be completely harmless if you weren’t about to cough up another human being the wrong way out. Baby comes into contact with the stuff and bam you got a very sick and potentially dying baby.

The head has to be in the right place, the cord can get wrapped around his neck, her hands can get in the way, and did I mention the long list of pain killers and apparatus they show you at Anti Natal class that get Dad thinking he’s about to walk into a torture chamber and participate in some sick ritual that will potentially cost him his consciousness and/or sex life?

Hence the miracle.

On the one hand you get these people who can’t reproduce and wish and pray that they could. On the other hand you get the ones who brave it through the most bizarre, surreal and yet rewarding ordeal to get this thing that despite all odds popped out just in time to say hello with its little screams and twisted fingers and kicking legs with feet that looked like they fell off a porcelain doll…

I can’t honestly say that there would be any such thing as a “reasonable precaution” when the thing precautioned against is something so incredibly remarkable as your own child.

And along came Christmas…

As my wife handed me 7 pairs of socks she apologized because we’ve been so broke and that was the best we could do. I felt shocked that she forgot to mention on the Christmas card “I got you socks because I already gave you a baby as an early Christmas present!”

Haydn Emma herself gave Daddy a few presents this year and she didn’t even need a wallet. I will have to find out how she does that, it would save me a lot of money!

She is saying “Dadadadadadadadadad” a lot now. Of course I don’t think she knows what she is saying or has associated it with this bumbling big buffoon who can’t stop cuddling her but at the very least I wonder if she says “Dadadadadadad” because it must annoy “Momomomomomomom”? Well, it would were it not for the fact she says that occasionally too. (But she says “Dadadadad” more)

Present number two was when she was on the bed watching me wrap the secret Santa’s. To keep her occupied I let her play with some paper while I concentrated on the intricate sticky taping of a book until I looked up to discover my little girl now had a purple face, purple fingers and a great big purply tongue! Naturally I freaked out and stuck my finger in there to get whatever was in there out again. We think Kids aren’t very smart because they’re kids but after that experience I realized that a child is only as stupid as their parents.

The purple dye must have contained a mutagen or steroid or something because on that same day she got up on her hands and knees as if to take off like a thunder bird but then she stopped, probably deciding to save that discovery for when no one is looking.

Her Granddad had the privilege of giving her her first taste of ice cream. Her reaction wasn’t quite as exciting as when I gave her her first Lime only a few days before but at least she enjoyed the ice-cream. I have a nice picture of her painting her face with it after she grabbed the spoon from Granddad and proceeded to continue with munching on it by herself. She does that when she gets enthusiastic about her food.

She even got a cool toy that projects teddy bears and stars onto the ceiling. The idea was to use it to help her get to sleep at night but she’s onto us; she knows when we’re trying to put her out for the night and will stop at nothing to stop us from succeeding…

To be continued...

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