Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Long Story of Experience followed by A Soon-to-be-Father's Prayer

I know I say this all the time, but I am really bad at keeping up on my blog...

Since I last wrote, I started dating and married my now wife, who I love more than anything else. I know, nothing too big, right?

So unsuspecting..

She is my best friend and confidant, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Anyway, we were also blessed to find out that we were expecting a child, although quicker than originally planned. Now, we are less than 4 weeks away from what I affectionately call "D-Day," it has less to do with disaster, and more to do with the reality that I am going to be a Dad. With that sort of pressure staring you in the eye, I think you would have to be crazy to not feel some sort of need to reflect on your life, past and future.

I must warn, however, this is not an invitation for anyone to patronize me with their "expericed" parental advise. Unfortunately, I have to say this because it seems that when a new parent expresses their worries, suddenly everyone has reasons why their experience is wrong... no offence, but keep it to yourself. This is my experience, positive and negative, and how I honestly felt during it. I am honest in my feelings and don't edit myself, because I think that it is the only way anyone else will get some value out of my ramblings. 

Back to the story: When you look at our birth announcement, it's not hard to see that this child was not exactly.....umm... how do I say this... planned?


Really, the hard truth is that Nuva Ring doesn't work, or, at least it didn't for us, and now we are blessed with a baby that we will affectionately refer to as an "Unplanned Miracle." The night that I found out we were expecting... actually, hold on, I knew we were expecting before Katie took the test. Call it magic, or Voodoo or the Force, but the night I knew we were pregnant, I was reading in bed and I looked at her putting on her PJ's and something clicked. I told her "I think you're pregnant," her response of overreactive anger was all but confirmation that my suspicions were correct (it doen't take Scooby and the gang.) Nevertheless, logic/panic told me I should wait for the official test before booking myself on a Long Island Medium-like, pregnancy test, reality TV show.

This could be me!

The night that I officially found out that we were "with child," Katie came out of the bathroom in a panic and just showed me the test. No words, just tears and a stick. Now, I was working on my final, 20 page, English paper and I looked at the test, then looked at her and said "Sh*t just got real," then continued to write my paper. I don't think my stoic response helped her in that moment, but it has since proved to be a funny anecdote. I remember feeling so completely overwhelmed, but I knew I had to keep my cool for Katie. Was I worried? HECK YES, but I was willing to put that aside for my wife.

I must admit, the first trimester was really hard for me. I didn't feel in control of my own situations, but I learned a lot from going through that. Originally, we didn't even want to tell even our families until three months... but due to...umm... lets call them overzealous supporters, that didn't happen. Don't get me wrong, these "overzealous supporters" are sweet and loving people who have probably done a lot for us, and we love them too, but they have a nasty habit of making our blessing all about them and ruining our moment. Another moment that was less than Hallmark worthy was telling my mother the news. It consisted of me trying to talk over a bad connection and her not hearing what I said. Ultimately, it ended with me screaming "WEEEERR'RREEE HAAVVVINNNGGGG AAAA BAAAAABBBYYYY!!", but less excited than that reads and more frustrated. It wasn't anyone's fault, but still it wasn't what I imagined.

This is bull-larky

On top of all that, we had "scares," not as bad as some people have, but for me they were awful. It was really hard to get excited when it felt like we could lose the baby at any moment. I maintain that you don't know fear unless you have faced losing a child in the womb, and you are unable to do anything to fix it for your wife/child.

Following those scares, the appointment where we were supposed to find out the sex was also soiled by a combination of the same "overzealous supporters" and another "scare", which completely destroyed the anticipated magic of seeing my child for the first time. I actually didn't get to be apart of that appointment and because of that I felt robbed of these "moments." To me, the unfortunate truths of the situation were adding up; not only was this child a surprise, but every benefit and experience of starting a family felt stolen from me. I didn't get to see the faces of the people closest to us as they found out, this pregnancy was stressful, moments that I had looked forward to for my entire life (i.e. seeing my kid on the ultrasound, ect.) were gone and could not be re-lived.

My wife, knowing my frustrations, lovingly attempted to salvage us finding out our child's gender, by taking me to the temple we were married at, and opening the envelope listing the gender together. It was then that I had my light bulb moment. I had a realization that life wasn't ever going to go the way we wanted it. Katie and I had a plan to not get pregnant for two years, we had a plan not to tell, and I had a plan for how to tell my parents. All of these romantic ideas that were getting in my way and ruining my experience. By this point, I thought of the "overzealous supporters" as "well meaning morons", and I was letting the "well meaning morons" and the unfortunate situations get in the way of my enjoyment. I am confident that I am/was justified in those feelings of robbery, but at the end of the day, I was only hurting myself.  Furthermore, I am sure that throughout the rest of my life, I am going to have plans that do not happen the way I want them to, and I can't let those get in my way. So, I let go of expectations and made a goal to experience life in the moment. With this realization in my mind, together, in the moment, and with love, my wife and I opened the envelope and found out that we are having a little boy. (I was right.)

Message I sent my best friend after hearing the news.

From there I allowed myself to become more active and excited. I read a lot of books and talked about my fears/expectations with my wife. During this time of happiness, I also held out for one moment that I knew no one could steal from me. It would be mine, and Katie's and our son's and no one else's, and that was the moment I felt him kick. For months, I teased Katie with claims that she probably wasn't pregnant, rather that this whole situation was all due to the fact that she ate a bad burrito months ago... and that's what she was feeling in her stomach. Needless to say, that made her less than happy with me, but it was all stemming from the fact that the little jerk would stop kicking every time I put my hand on her stomach. (I say jerk as a tender and loving father) Rather than seeing this as a sign that the little guy calmed down when I was around, I took it as an insult and pouted about it. I refused to play hard to get, and stopped attempting to witness my son's punting skills. Then one magic day, I saw her stomach move and I quickly put my hand right within his reach... and... he stopped.... but I held out... and threatened him... and then it happened, he kicked my hand. I couldn't help it, I started crying because, suddenly, he was a person to me.

I think his football is Katie's spleen.

The only thing to do from here was to name the little guy.  Now, if you've had kids, you know, and if you haven't, be warned: names suck. First off all, I think every parent has names they like and don't like, but on top of that every single friend and family member has an opinion, and no one likes it when you avoid the question and tell them you haven't decided. Even if it is a secret, everyone interrogates you until at least some options are given, and then most likely followed up with some sort of disapproving reason as to why you cannot use any of them. (i.e. "...but your aunt's cousin's son's distant friend used that name", or "I know a *insert name choice* and he's an ass", or the shockingly-to-the-point: "that name is horrible").

However, I've known what I was going to name my son for a long time. When I was younger, my grandmother on my mother's side was always sick. In fact, we thought she was going to die multiple times. One of these times, my grandma talked to me about how she never got to name a kid after her favorite uncle, because she didn't have another boy. I promised her then that I would name my first son for her, in memory of her... but she didn't die, she made it another few years... so, that promise sort of fell out of memory. Well, fast forward to when she was actually dying, I was one of the only grandkids that went to visit her in Monroe. On the two hour drive from Orem to Monroe, I thought about my grandma, and I remembered the promise. A couple of aunts and uncles were at the house when I arrived, and while I was there they allowed me a moment by myself with my grandmother. If you haven't seen someone on the edge of death, their awareness is somewhat compromised and because of that I wasn't even sure I could talk to her. Nevertheless, I kissed her head and I asked her if she knew it was me, she sort of mumbled, smiled and a tear rolled down her cheek. I didn't want to waste the clarity, so I reminded her of that promise I made about my first son's name, and she looked at me, and I knew she heard. That's how I knew what I was going to name him, because I promised my grandmother, you're probably wondering what his name is actually going to be well.... drum roll please............ his name is Lincoln Jacob Porter. (Keep your opinions to yourself).

I can honestly say that I am way happier now than what I was at the beginning of this journey. As my wife would say, "There is a reason God made pregnancy nine months." Sure, I have had many "freak outs," and feelings of overwhelming doubt, but those have paled in comparison when I remember the moments of tremendous excitement. I am so excited to be a dad that some days I cry just thinking about the prospect. I know that it is not the most masculine thing to admit, but imagine the hilarity of that happening in a public place, let alone my place of work. My poor co-workers....

Umm... Dude... What's wrong?

In my preparations for the oncoming pressures of fatherhood, I have looked into what the relationship between me and my son will be and what it will mean for him. I found a list of things that sons need from their fathers, and here they are: he needs a living example that shows him how to responsibly express emotions, he needs their father to show him how to respect women,  he needs a father that shows him how to plan for his future, he needs his father to give him moral and spiritual benchmarks, he needs his father to be a respect and purity monitor and finally he needs his father to show him how to love. This list came from a book called 5 Things Every Kid Must Get from Dad, and to say the least it is a little overwhelming. Lincoln (or any other kid of mine for that matter), I promise that I am going to try my hardest to be the best father I can be for you. I am going to try to teach you these, because it is my responsibility. I promise.

Such a good read.

This lead me to think about the real wants and worries I have, which lead me to this public prayer for my son:

I pray that you love yourself as much as your mother and I love you,
I pray that you don't inherit my pessimism, but rather your mother's optimism, it will make your life easier, I promise.
I pray you don't sweat the small stuff, because I do and it's not worth it,
I pray that you learn from my mistakes, and don't inherit my flaws,
I pray that you're patient with my mistakes and love me anyway.
I pray that you see me as your father, but can talk to me like a friend.
I pray you know happiness and success, and that you can share it with the people you love,
I pray that you think of others before yourself,
I pray that you strive to be a great person,
I pray you never give up on anything you want, but rather reach for the impossible,
I pray you find your truth,
I pray you are confident, but not cocky,
I pray that you never know pain,
I pray that you experience life to the fullest,
and I pray that you have no regrets when judgment comes.
Most of all, I pray that you always remember how much I love you, because through that memory I will always be with you.
I love you, I really do.

Back at you, man, I can't wait to meet you.