There’ve been several reasons why I haven’t felt like doing any personal writing as of late, most of it having to do with what appeared to be an immovable cold front of Internet crabbiness hovering over Chicago last month, which caused several localized shitstorms. But Erin is leaving me in the dust when it comes to writing about the pregnancy so I need to get back to it.
Rather than knock myself around trying to come up with a proper piece about it all, I’m just going to sloppily jam a few posts into one. I want to apologize now for not going into appropriately significant details on all of this, especially the hypnobirthing stuff. Not doing so may jeopardize my intent in advocating for an alternative point of view but I don’t think I’m ready to devote this space to doing that just yet. (Though I’m happy to do so one-on-one via email or in person for those who want to know more.)
This might come off as a blatant plug for work, but if you’re an expectant father or anyone who enjoys good writing, go check out Jeff Ruby’s Push blog. I’m still enjoying Brott’s books because the quiet text is soothing for someone who’s never done this before. But Jeff’s work is a perfect counterpoint due to its passion, honesty and humor. Someone give this man a book deal.
We’re about six months in and…God, I can’t wait for this kid to get here. Not because I’m tired of Erin being pregnant but because…I am so excited to meet our daughter.
I didn’t let myself get at all excited for the First Three Months because that’s the part when things are most likely to go wrong. And even though there’s much that could still go wrong, all of our doctor’s appointments have gone well so damnit I’m excited.
We’ve been getting a lot of people asking us whether we’ve picked out a name yet. We’re telling people we’re batting around some names. Technically, this is not a lie. But we’re definitely favoring one in particular and it’s made her seem less a steadily-growing but an invisible-but-for-an-ultrasound presence inside my wife’s uterus and more a real person who already exists and has a personality and enjoys it when I read portions of Winnie-The-Pooh or the script from Superman: The Movie. (I create a narrative from the directions and do all the voices. I’m pretty proud of my Lex Luthor, in fact.)
Speaking of reading to the kid…
Hypnobirthing and doulas
There was a time in my life when I felt everything I knew about myself was wrong. Once I got past that and learned to trust myself again, I was left with both a more refined bullshit detector and a willingness to at least listen to a point of view that I might previously have dismissed.
When my wife told me she wanted to have a natural birth, I was supportive but skeptical. Erin’s what I’d admiringly call a “tough broad” but her tolerance for pain isn’t exactly Viking-like. On the other hand, I wasn’t a fan of pumping all manner of drugs into her system either and that feeling only intensified after watching The Business of Being Born. Still, when Erin mentioned hypnobirthing and a doula, I was again skeptical. Let’s be honest, if you don’t know what those words mean – and I didn’t at that time – it sounds like hippie talk.
I’ll defer to the above link and to Erin (here and here) for a more detailed explanation of what a doula does and what hypnobirthing’s about what we went through but I got on board pretty quick due to our doula’s academic bearing and matter-of-fact view of birthing. Plus, having someone who’s gone through this many, many times before and will be an advocate for us during the birth is a calming force when you’re having your first kid.
As for hypnobirthing and the classes we’re taking, I’m an evidenced-based person when it comes to the world around us and telling me “Well, that’s how it’s always been done” is a guarantee I’ll just do the opposite. So hypnobirthing – despite its basis in hypnosis – is right in my wheelhouse.
It’s also helped us to remain close as a couple, not just two people who will likely be parents in a few months’ time. Part of the process of hypnobirthing involves me reading several paragraphs of text to Erin before she goes to sleep. Not only does it help us end the day together, I think it’s also making my voice more familiar to our in utero’d child which is supposed to be all manner of good.
How we’re approaching the birth is not for everyone, obviously. But it feels right for us just as however someone else approaches birth feels right for them. And that’s all that matters.
Which brings me to…
At some point during our first class, our doula said something about not apologizing when we tell the doctor exactly what we want in our birth plan (at that point, I didn’t know that’s what you call it, but that’s what it’s called). She may also have mentioned something about not having fear about giving birth or maybe a switch just flipped in my head…
And that’s when I started thinking about Green Lantern.
It’s common knowledge that I’m partial to Superman. And taking Superman as your inspiration can be good and bad. But for the purposes of going through a pregnancy and coming to grips with raising a child, there’s not a lot I’ve been able to draw from Superman. With Superman, you get certainty. But pregnancy and – if I may be so bold – raising a child doesn’t seem to carry with it a lot of certainty.
In the early days of the Green Lantern comics, it was said that Hal Jordan became the greatest of the Green Lanterns because he had no fear. In the more recent stories of the character written by Geoff Johns, it’s made clear that Hal Jordan is the greatest Green Lantern because he overcomes fear through sheer force of will, not because he doesn’t experience it.
There’s plenty of fear to experience in a pregnancy. I was fearful at various points in our first three months, wondering if we’d clear the takeoff part of our flight. A couple weeks ago I feared that maybe we we making a mistake in both of us planning to go back to work after the baby was born. I fear…well, plenty of things. But I’ve been getting through it through sheer force of will. (And the love and support of my wife who’s going through all this and plenty more, too. She is, put simply, a daily example of strength.)
So I decided to stop being afraid of having a kid or raising a kid. Because this isn’t going to be just a kid. This is going to be our kid. And our kid is going to be awesome.
That’s nothing to be afraid of.