Sometimes, when people inquire about our desire to add to our family, the questions can be presented in an intrusive way. “When are you having another one?” makes me want to print out loge seat tickets to our bedroom. Hey, why don’t you come over and find out? Maybe about 9 p.m. Bring candles.
We had greater intrusions prior to the pregnancy. People knew we wanted to have children, so they’d ask and ask and ask some more. One thousand little pecks created a gaping wound of frustration for me. We had a plan and when we started “trying,” we figured getting pregnant would be easy. After all, people make “mistakes” all the time. The calendar flipped without success. The next month, we honed the schedule when we learned that there’s just an 18-hour window to get pregnant during ovulation. Four pregnancy sticks that month – two dubious, two negative – sent us in a spiral. Why was it so hard?
Another month came and went. That’s when the emotions started bubbling up. Sara and I didn’t advertise our bedroom activities, so not everyone knew that we’d begun our journey. Because Sara was on the later end of 36, I heard more than once, “She’s not getting any younger, you know.” I’d smirk and say, “I know,” because I believe in living a life of nonviolence. Impulsive Chris would’ve produced fists of fury.
Had we waited too long? Was something wrong with one of us? Are we just not getting the timing? How exactly do people get accidentally pregnant?
My stress was rising, because even though it had only been four months of trying and of getting our hopes up, there was no guarantee that the next month would prove successful. Or the next. The future looked more like an abyss than an opportunity.
Sara thought our 18-hour window was approaching on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, moments we’d be sharing at both sets of parents’ homes. We figured we’d forgo December’s trying, because the alternative seemed icky. I thought the window might be earlier, but I hadn’t memorized the chart. The chart was adding to my stress. I had been an actor once and I never got excited about going on stage. I always had a brick in my belly. I loved performing, but the anticipation nearly killed me. The chart had become the monthly “Lights Up.”
We knew we weren’t getting pregnant in December, but before we called it quits late in the evening, we said, “What the heck!” Then we headed home for the holidays the next afternoon.
Two weeks to the day later, the stick couldn’t add double lines fast enough! I was en route to Fatherdom.
Though I was becoming fatherly in the months leading to Kalia’s birth, fatherhood emerged in September two years ago. I couldn’t have been happier. I spent the first 16 months as a stay-at-home dad while Sara worked at the job she took to support us as I completed graduate school. We were far from our families in a region of the country we wanted to leave. Now, our roles have been reversed for 6 months. I’m working outside the home. We’re much closer to our families in one of our favorite states.
I have an amazing wife, who’s an exponentially amazing mama. And a tremendous daughter who wows us every day. While she sees the world with beginner’s eyes, I have been a beginner as a father. I’ve listened to my intuition more than I’ve taken advice from people or books or websites. I rarely imagine what Kalia’s future will entail, outside of my hopes that she will live in a more accepting society that is less dedicated to greedy pursuits. I hope the planet remains habitable for her generation.
This ride has been quite enjoyable. And exciting. And exhausting. Wonderful – as when she first said, “Dada,” “Mama,” and “I love you.” Terrifying – as when she broke her arm. I feel fortunate to have her and thankful that she decided to join us. Should another kiddo emerge on our radar we will happily welcome him or her. And we love the life we have. We cannot control the clock or our biology. As people with siblings, we think Kalia would derive great joy in having one. We would have great joy raising a second. But a nursing child also controls some of the mechanisms that could lead to future pregnancies.
Maybe that’s more than you wanted to know. I figure since so many people ask, I might as well be honest.
As I celebrate my second Father’s Day, I recognize that there are many men out there without children. I beg anyone reading this to couch your terms if you’re about to invite yourself into his bedroom by asking if he will be having any kids. You never know if the person has been trying for months or even years. In such a kid-centric society maybe he is scared to tell you he doesn’t want any, hoping to avoid the inevitable and incredulous, “How could you not want kids?!?” And perhaps, just perhaps, his sexual life and desire to procreate really isn’t the rest of the world’s business.
When I discuss having children, I never assume the other person wants them. I’ll say, “If having kids is something you want…” or some such way to leave it open for them to share with me what their hopes or plans are. If and only if they so desire to have that conversation.
As for me, if it happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t? Well, I’m happy I was lucky enough to strike gold once.
Happy Father’s Day, folks!