The Test

I have to say at this point that although a lot of what came to pass seemed totally planned and all worked out perfectly, at no time during what happened did we feel anything like in control.

We had expected that due to my age and other factors, conceiving may take longer than it would have if we had been a lot younger.  With this in mind then, the first tests that were negative came as little surprise to us:  I have to admit though that the first couple brought as much disappointment as failing my motorcycle driving test, and by that I mean I was gutted – not to a point of devastation, but it was like a real kick in the stomach – the taste of failure.  What is interesting in retrospect is that we were lucky to never experience the long drawn out months of negative test after negative test.  I know that this blog would be very different if we had still been trying.

So it was the third occasion that was elevated from cheap test to proper, all whistles and bells, digital pregnancy tester.  My wife (I will call her Willy for the sake of anonymity), had already had two cheap tests show something… and by ‘something’ I mean a faint line of hope.  But she was sure.  And on that fateful day, just after New Year, we did the water test: together.  Disappointment – joy – fear.. whatever the result, we were going to experience this together.  And by ‘together’, I mean we held the tester out in front of us with a hand over the little window, and after the required time elapsed, we revealed the words:  Pregnant 2-3

As well as being absolutely thrilled with the result, there was a small space in the pit of my stomach that brought to mind the life-changing event before me, along with the lifetime of responsibility that comes with it – the knowledge that life will never be the same and you have to look after someone else other than yourself forever.  That was quickly followed only for a second, by dread.  Well more like fear – the fear of starting a set of circumstances that are unstoppable… then back to total joy:  oh yeah this boy has got it!  Silly I know, but as a man, knowing you are packing live rounds makes you puff your chest out just a little more than before.

and then it was time to go back to work…  a secret in our chests screaming to be unleashed, but sworn to secrecy until we were sure.  We didn’t want to tell everyone and jinx the little life growing inside.  It would be a few weeks before we told anyone, but we were smiling to ourselves every day.

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This time last year

I’m 43.  Last year I was 42 and not for the first time, the discussion about babies came up in conversation one evening with my wife of 9 years.  It had been brought up previously and it was then agreed that at some point in the future, we would think about having children.. that was 3 years ago and I remember something about a five year plan:  my plan was that I would buy a Triumph Bonneville and enjoy riding it for five years before I had to trade it in for a life less exciting.

These 3 years have flown by, and my bike has just passed its first MOT, and my wife still gets worried when I am out on it, always picturing my twisted body under the wheels of a truck.. lifeless. And always glad when she hears the burble of that sweet 865cc engine coming up the street.  Anyway, just remember that I was still thinking last year, that I had a few years left.  The conversation comes up and something happened in my brain that said “Why am I waiting to feel ready to be a dad?”.  Is ready the point when you stop feeling not ready?  It was at that point I realised that I was not, not ready, which is as near to ready as I will probably ever get.

So I said to my wife that we should try.. well you know, start trying – get in readiness for trying.  My mind was wanting to stop the feeling of a possible future failure that ‘trying’ can give you.  If you start getting to the point of trying, rather than actually being the try, there is less pressure.  And being a man of 42 you do worry about things like lazy or misdirected sperm.. you do think that those little fellas must be feeling as old and creaky as the man carrying them around in his wrinkly bag.  I didn’t want to be here now, after a year of solid trying with nothing to show for it.

So as a way of easing ourselves into procreation it was decided we would begin after we get our main holiday out of the way (we did not want to interrupt our last overseas vacation with morning sickness, or spend the week tea-total.. not on all exclusive).

The next few months were a blur of fertilisation tests, business-like sex and mild disappointments – I say mild, as we still in the pre-trying stage… giving it a go.  However, I have to say that each pregnancy test that followed and was negative was a real sensation of failure.  At this point though it felt more like failing to hit a moving target than having worries of infertility, so neither of us were having doubts about our ‘fitness’ – it was like Battleships with a longer delay.

By the way, let me clear up what I mean when I say ‘business-like sex’.  It is the same feeling you get comparing rehearsals to live performances.  Sex up to this point was the joyous freedom you experience only when experimenting, like at rehearsals (I must just clarify at this point that I am a musician and performer) – it is like jamming.. you have the time and support to express yourself.  It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, it is part of the learning curve.  But in the live performance, it really does matter, so you tend to overthink what you are doing, and come your solo spot, you want to get that absolutely bang on.  There is a part of your brain that actively reminds you of this during this period of love-making; a part of your brain you keep having to tell to shut up as it is spoiling the mood.

Now, where was I?  Ah yes, the pregnancy tests.  Well, I shall leave it there for this week.  Join me again to relive the journey to today.

Get ready for action

I am actually a father-to-be at the moment, but I wanted to share the thoughts of a man in his early 40’s who is about to embark on the single most important change of his life: the journey from selfishness to unselfishness… the point where he no longer only considers where he is, what he wants to do, but finds himself on the verge of not being the most important thing in his own life and he now has a small person to look after.

This for some may seem completely obvious, but I will endeavour to explain where this idea comes from and try to dispel many myths about the man’s psyche. Much is expressed in the media and in society in general about the mother’s journey, and of course that is the more important part in the story, however, here is a space where us fathers and fathers to be can have a little corner of our own to tell you how it feels for us.

Some of it will not be pretty, but I am on a journey out of selfishness; I am not there yet.

Join me and share your own thoughts. All are welcome.