How He Became A Daddy

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"Well, I guess we're supposed to have a baby together."

That's what I said to Mike when I walked out of the doctor's office in San Diego seven years ago. He was 24. I was 33. We had been dating less than six months and we weren't married. He was from NJ. I was from Oklahoma. We didn't know each other's families. I'm not sure we knew each other's middle names.

My mind was spinning. I felt like I just said "Ta da! I've wrecked your future plans! I hope you don't mind! Ha ha ha!!!!!!!"  Maybe I would throw up.

And then he said this:

"Well... OK!"  And he sounded almost optimistic. 

"I guess we are!", he continued. "So, what's next?"

"There's a strong heartbeat. I saw it. "

But let me back up here and explain something. This wasn't the first time I told Mike I was pregnant.

In January of that year, 2005, Mike began working at a design firm where I was employed as what I will reluctantly call an office manager. He was a new designer, replacing my friend Michelle Prescott who was moving to another agency. After about two months of trying to convince myself to stay away from him because of the age difference, we finally started dating. It was a small office with grueling hours, so we were together more than apart. We hid our relationship from everyone at work except our friend Shannon. In April, Mike went home to NJ for Passover and I made my own 1st seder with my housemate Kelly. The night that he returned back to San Diego, I remember us laying in bed and saying "I'm happy". For the first time in ages, I was happy. We agreed that what we had was good.

Possibly not even a week later, I took a home pregnancy test that was positive. Because I had never been pregnant before, had been successfully following the rhythm method of birth control for YEARS and was apparently delusional, I actually misread the test to be negative and threw it away. It was only when Kelly pointed out how late I was in my cycle that I got the test out of the trash to look at again. I still remember staring at that stick with Kelly standing there and saying, "I'M PREGNANT!" There was no hint of optimism in my voice. My legs got weak and I plopped on the couch to keep from falling. I cried. 

Of all the trouble I had ever created, all the risks I had taken, the opinions I had ignored, the independence I had exercised - this one knocked the wind out of me. All I could think about was the awful task of telling my 24 year old boyfriend. 

So, that's what I did. That night I went to Mike's apartment and sat down on his couch and told him. He did a lot of pacing. Nobody was excited. We were scared. We discussed all our options and agreed on two things: Our relationship was still good and we would be OK.

As the days passed, we began to warm up to the idea of being parents. At 33, I knew I was in no position to say I couldn't handle being a mom. As luck would have it, Mike was the only person I had dated that I could see raising a child with. Circumstance could be better, sure. But we could do this.

Then, the baby died. I started cramping. We went to ER and saw that the pregnancy wasn't strong from the beginning and it just didn't work. No reason. Just one of those things. I have really clear, horrible memories from that day. I remember that the waiting room was cold and that we waited a long time. The nurses were cold and they left me on a hospital bed in the hall alone. But I also remember Mike being there for me. He was kind and gentle. 

After that, you might think we were relieved. But I wasn't. I was more sad. It's amazing how attached you can get to an embryo. I also thought for sure that Mike would take his exit then. I even encouraged him to do so. But he stayed. 

You also might think were extra careful from then on. And if you call saying to ourselves two weeks later "Oh, there's no WAY it could happen again that quick" careful, then yes, we were totally cautious. 

So when I went back to the doctor for my post-miscarriage check-up six weeks after, and I told the doctor that I still felt pregnant, he assured me it was practically impossible. But he sent me for an ultrasound to ease my mind. That's when I saw that strong heartbeat of my future baby girl. That's when I tried to think of a gentle way to tell my young boyfriend waiting in the other room that he really was going to be a dad. Because the universe was sneaky.

The doctors couldn't believe it either. Two of them checked me and said it was one of those crazy things. 

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Almost a Dad 2006

"Well, OK!" 

Those two words are what created my kids dad. He met that challenge head on the same way he has met every challenge with our family since. I could easily list all the ways in which he has become a wonderful father over the last seven years, but I think you see that every day through what he says and does and how much our children and I love him. 

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Every time I think of those early days in California when we were just trying to figure it all out, falling in love, watching my belly grow and the countless sleepless nights since, I marvel at the dad and husband he has become. I am in awe of the fears we have faced and the way he has led by example. While we, by no standard, can be held up as “Parents of the Year”, I humbly suggest that the “Well, OK!” approach be incorporated into the thought process of any new dad or dads who are having a hard time.

We knew nothing of the future back then. He could have ran. Many men do. He could have given up when things got harder after our move to NJ. He didn’t. There was no guarantee of anything that day at the doctor’s office and there still isn’t. But my husband gives our family the confidence to move forward each time he takes a deep breath and address the moment with even just a hint of optimism.  

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Like my own father and his father, Mike has earned his title as Daddy. Long live the Daddies.

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