During pregnancy, the woman gets most of the focus. It’s obvious why. Her body goes through a lot of physical and mental changes. Prenatal books, videos, blogs, all of it is typically geared towards the woman so she knows what to expect, what is considered “normal,” and to know that everything she feels about these changes is okay. Because what is it we think of first when we think of a pregnant woman’s mental state? She’s worried.
“Oh, honey, you’ll be worried about them for the rest of your life.”
I’ve heard this a number of times, not just when I became pregnant, but pretty much anytime a woman I knew discovered she had an occupant in her uterus. I’ll admit it, too, I was worried, and almost immediately. It was 5am in late July and I wasn’t even in my own bathroom when the stick told me I was no longer alone. Everything changed in less than a minute, and one of those changes was worry.
I didn’t fall back to sleep. I mean, how could you? I lied in my sister’s guest bedroom, a hand on my belly, and felt the cramps, and worried. My heart was beating. I felt flushed. My mind would not stop racing. Eventually my sister woke up and walked in as I had kept the door open. She didn’t even get to say good morning before I spoke.
Teary eyes and congratulations abound, I confessed to her that while I was happy, I was also scared. She assured me that feeling that way was normal. We’re women. We’re mothers. It’s what we do.
So, I waited six days to tell Jordan the news. He was driving into Texas and we made plans to spend the afternoon and evening at his family’s land, with his mother. A bumpy ride through the fields to the pond at sunset, I told him he was going to be a father on the back of his four-wheeler. He was overjoyed, of course, and we shared a kiss. It was a wonderful moment, just the two of us knowing this information (well, us and God), and one of the first things he asked wasn’t “are you sure?” or “how?” even though those would have been appropriate given it had been 19 months since we initially started trying to begin our family. But, he asked “are you feeling okay?”
Because just like me, he was worried.
Women get a lot of the focus when it comes to pregnancy, but I want to talk about the men. It takes two to tango y’all, and even though I was undergoing some rapid, and quite nauseating physical changes, my husband was changing too, just in different ways. He placed a hand on my belly. His heart was beating. His face was flushed. His mind would not stop racing.
He worried about me those unending weeks I spent on the couch with terrible morning sickness. He worried as he watched me gag repeatedly as I tried to slowly eat a cup of applesauce, or a popsicle. He worried about my nutrition levels, the baby’s nutritional needs, my comfort, my sleep, and the growing offspring that was quickly developing from a poppy seed to a raspberry, to a strawberry, and to a plum. A book about becoming a father popped up on his nightstand. An actual book with pages and words that he read when I’ve never seen him read anything more than a truck or tractor manual in the twelve years we’d been together, but he did so because he was changing, and because he was worried.
Soon, we found out we were having a daughter. We’d only left the ultrasound room a few minutes before when concerns started sprawling from my husband’s mind about the very real little girl that would be under our care. Out of all of them, most of which are quite normal for any parent to feel about their child, one of them caught my attention.
“I just want her to be a strong woman, you know?”
I do, because I want the same things. What parent doesn’t? But I heard what he was really saying. That’s the thing about Jordan and his words. A lot of the times what he feels is exactly in what he doesn’t say. I know this after a decade of being his partner, and I heard him loud and clear in that waiting room. I knew he had about a million things running through his mind, but the biggest one was his worry if he was capable of raising his daughter to be the strong, smart, and successful woman every parent dreams for their child. Could he do it? Could we? Would we screw it up?
Before we knew she was indeed a she, and even before we knew she was gifted to us by God, I told Jordan that I believed he would be the best father for a girl. I brought this up again after we discovered we were pregnant, and then one more time after we saw our daughter on that little screen in the doctor’s office for the first time. “Why?” he asked me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but I think I can now.
You see, I’ve been watching him for a long time. I see the way he cares for other people, the goodness he wants to see in everyone. I’ve seen the way he approaches even the smallest projects with care and thought. I’ve seen him with me.
And as this plum has grown into an avocado, a grapefruit, and now currently a pineapple, I continued to watch him. From the couch in-between gags as he carried in the grocery items he carefully picked out to help nourish me and our child. I’ve felt his boots and steps grow quiet on the hardwood as he enters from a long, tiring day at work to discover I’m asleep on the couch. I’ve felt his hands on my belly as our child kicks, the hands replacing the covers onto my shoulders when they’ve fallen off in the middle of the night. I’ve seen the look in his eyes as my belly has grown and he could make out our daughter’s fist running along the front of my abdomen. I’ve seen him and that look we both shared as we stood in our daughter’s nursery for the first time after he put all of her furniture together.
Of all the things I worry about as a mother, I know there’s one thing I can cross off my list. I know our daughter will be strong. I know she will be smart. I know this because I know her father, and I know that like me, and like my own father did with me. . .