Meagan and I are having our first child, and we’re pumped up about it.
We announced it to our families after we had a positive pregnancy test the week of Christmas. Talk about a fantastic present for both them and us. As joyful as it’s been, the first trimester (and now the second, thus far) was rough. Meagan’s been sick–really sick–throwing up all the time and continuously feeling nauseous. She’s gained an aversion to foods she used to love and a particular affinity for things like chocolate croissants and hummus. (Not together, but then again, nothing is out of bounds for a pregnant woman.)
As we prepare to bring a child into this crazy world and become parents for the first time, we’ve been wading through the emotions and questions associated with soon-to-be parenthood. Am I going to be a good father? Will I be able to provide for another human being? What if I pass out in the delivery room? We’ve spent time going through potential names for the child, gone to doctor appointments, and thought about whether it would be okay to put basketball shoes on him or her right after birth (okay, maybe that’s something I’ve thought through).
I joke with Meagan now that when we hug, we’re actually having a group hug—all three of us. Our family is growing, and someday soon, the child inside of Meagan will be born, learn to read, and potentially see this post. At that point, son or daughter, you will know your mother and I have loved you since before you were in the world. Now go and do the dishes.
As I’ve been preparing for the time in August when I probably won’t sleep much, I’ve made a few observations about soon-to-be-first-time fatherhood. I obviously have no idea what I’m doing at this point, but I’m ecstatic about being a father—and have learned a little bit in the process of waiting for our child to be born.
Trust is a big deal. Pregnancy feels completely out of our control. In most ways, it is. Meagan can take prenatal vitamins and I can run to Wendy’s to get her a frosty, but ultimately it comes down to trust. Do we trust God with this child? No matter what happens from here on out, do we surrender our desire for control? Pregnancy can incite an odd mix of exuberance and terror. When we walk into the doctor’s office, it’s easy to be fearful and excited at the same time. Look, there’s its heartbeat! What if something goes wrong? This is amazing! What if we can’t provide for this child? I can’t wait to meet him or her! What if I stink at being a dad? The questions can come flooding in, but the truth is—no matter what, God is God and we aren’t. Preparing to have a child is putting a magnifying glass to my faith and reminding me to cast my anxieties at the feet of Jesus.
Life isn’t more meaningful, but fatherhood is an essential calling. Sometimes people say they’re having a baby because they want to have a more meaningful life. I don’t buy this argument. Plenty of people never have kids and are living meaningfully. Meaning isn’t found in having kids—it’s found in loving God and loving people. Those living meaningful lives can continue to do so when they have children, but the ticket to purpose isn’t found in being a mother or father. What I am learning, however, about preparing to have a child is fatherhood is an essential calling. The world needs more dads that stick around and love well. I’m seeking this vision for my life.
My relationship with Meagan should be prioritized over my relationship with my child. Even now, I’m learning our relationship should take a higher priority than our relationship with our kid. He or she hasn’t even been born yet, but we’re already recognizing the importance of seeing ourselves as a team in the parenting adventure. She’s not just pregnant with her child—Meagan’s pregnant with our child. We’re a team.
We don’t necessarily need a bigger place to live. We currently live in a one bedroom apartment, and it’s easy to start thinking about getting a bigger place to prepare for a baby. It’s not wrong to think this way, and we probably will move to a place that’s a little bigger. But in our conversations, we’ve realized it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we stay right where we are. A baby doesn’t take up that much space, and we could figure it out. We don’t have to impulsively buy a house out of fear that we’ll run out of room. We can take our time to make the right decision for our family.
It’s okay to feel clueless. I’ve never been a father before, so the unknown freaks me out a little bit. But I’m learning it’s okay to feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. It goes back to trust—just take it one step at a time.