Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day: Soul mates are chosen

When I met Andy, I was a teenager with no experience with long-term relationships and very limited observations of marriage. I had even less experience with children; there were not and had never been children younger than me in my life.

So when I finally got Andy to take me to a dance and ask me to be his girlfriend, I wasn't thinking about what kind of husband and father he would be. I wasn't asking myself if this was a guy who could sacrifice when sacrifice is needed, who could emotionally support me when I so often need it, who could be the kind of father I would want for my children.

I just liked his face and how his legs looked when he ran down a soccer field. He made me laugh. All the guys in his close-knit group of friends had hearts of gold--all fun and nice without being uptight or too cool. Andy stood out because he didn't try to stand out; he had the confidence to be himself and to be a little crazy, but no desire to take actions that would have negative consequences.

Still, I doubt either of us gave much thought to how responsible he would be as a grown man, husband, and father. We were just hanging out... together... which is an exciting status at that age.

We never had or accepted a reason to break up. That sounds a lot less romantic than it actually is.

So time went on, and we kept hanging out together, even when it meant a lot of long drives. There was a big time commitment to keep our little relationship going, and year after year I learned more about Andy's ability to sacrifice for what he wants, to do the right thing, to not take any crap from me (as hard as that is for me) yet be there for me when that's what I need.

It's never been perfect. We don't use words like "soul mate" in the fateful sense when we talk to each other, but I hope it's understood that when I agreed to marry him I was "mating" my soul. I think of "soul mates" more as a permanent choice than as Plato's magical splitting/rejoining of one original being.

Even when I married him, I couldn't have known for sure what type of father he would be. I knew a few of the cards he had in his poker hand, but some information just wasn't on the table. I was never worried, though, because I knew his heart.

Then we became parents.

Like every woman married to a great man, I was forever affected by the way my husband loves our child. The look on Andy's face when he held his baby (and now the way our "baby" shows his obvious love for his father) are some of the greatest blessings in my life.

But life got hard. And then really hard. And then even harder.

Parenthood is scary, stressful, emotional, exhausting, frustrating, infuriating, sleepless, guilt-inducing, and just so hard. Love, it turns out, is the easy part. Wanting to meet your child's needs is as natural as breathing. Actually finding the means to meet them is taxing. Everything that a good parent is "supposed to" provide--money, quality time, healthy food, lessons in everything from counting to manners to using the potty--is enough to kill a person.

And my husband pulls it off. Every day seems harder than the one before it, but we pull it off together. We aren't perfect parents any more than we're perfect spouses or perfect people, but there is no one else in the world that I would want to be the father of my children. No one. When I see him with his son, it's like getting a glimpse of one strangely perfect thread that God wove into the imperfect fabric of our life.

From the moment our son was born, if anyone asked me what one wish I would want--what one thing I would ask for before anything else--I would answer the genuine happiness of my child. And I had already chosen the man who could deliver it. How lucky am I?

Monday, June 10, 2013

24w 2d this close

Babies are most active between 24 and 28 weeks, since after that they run out of room for all the acrobatics. Little brother is just as energetic as big brother. My uterus is the size of a soccer ball, squishing all my other organs.

He's at least a foot tall, probably more, and weighs about a pound and a half. He's practicing breathing and really starting to gain the fat that will make him look like a baby. At this point there's about a fifty percent chance of (complicated) survival if he's born. His hands are developed, hearing is more acute, and he has taste buds, so he can probably taste anything strong that I eat or drink.

Just before we move to our new house, I have my 28 week appointment, which will feature the glucose blood draw with the gross drink. Then I'll start seeing the doctor every two weeks rather than every four.

My first pregnancy went so slowly, so full of anticipation I couldn't stand it. This pregnancy just won't slow down for a second. How can we be this close to being a family of four already?