So I was reading The Week this past week and I saw an article about Tylenol. I guess a study was recently done proving that Tylenol doesn’t only help with physical pain, but also existential pain or angst. My first thought was, “Damn, why didn’t I find out about that two weeks ago!”
You see, my wife is due to give birth to our second child (a girl) June 1. But really, we have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be any day now. Wait. Back up. SHE has a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be any day now, but I trust her knowledge of her own body.
But ever since we hit the 34 week mark and I made the (incredibly stupid) off hand remark of, “We have less than two months left!”, I’ve been feeling a sense of impending doom. It’s not ALL the time, but there have been many times over the last few weeks where I get these terrible feelings that something bad is going to happen. Whether it’s going to happen to me, to my wife, or to my son, it’s awful to have that feeling.
When my wife told her mother about this, my MIL mentioned a study that she read where connected fathers tend to get very protective and anxious when their wife is pregnant. Sure, this could be based on some kind of Neanderthalian (yeah, it’s not a word…) imperative to protect their future progeny from that pesky saber-toothed tiger down the street, but I think it’s more than that.
My wife has been growing and feeling our baby daughter for the last eight and a half months. She is experiencing the pregnancy in the first person, but I’m over here on the sidelines in third person. But at the same time, I plan to be a “connected” father. I am that kind of father now with my son, so why wouldn’t I with my daughter?
(Side story: A friend of mine once said something that I absolutely agree with. When people asked him if he helps his wife parent their children, he said, no. He IS a parent to his children. It’s that way with my wife and I. We share responsibilities; we share decisions; we share parenting. One is not superior and the other the “helper.”)
But because I, by biological necessity, have been a third-person participant in the pregnancy, really all I am doing is waiting. Waiting for the exciting day for my daughter to be born. Waiting to help my son be the best big brother possible. Waiting to be at the hospital again. Watching again. Examining again. Doing all of those things that I did three years ago again.
So it’s natural that my mind, which frankly is prone to this kind of angst anyway, would also be waiting for bad news. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Especially when we have good times. Good times like when my wife’s 92-year-old grandfather comes and J is snuggling up next to him. Good times like on Friday nights when we are saying the Shabbat blessings and I am blessing my son and I look over at my wife thinking that soon I’ll be able to bless my daughter too. Good times like when J cracks up at our rhyming games of changing the words to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (he especially loves trying to make me find a rhyme to “glockenspiel”).
Fortunately, my wife is a rock against my neural nonsense. She, being an amazing mother to our son, reminds me to focus on the good stuff and not worry. Whatever will happen, will happen, and we have made it through a lot of nasty crap over the years. Whatever happens, we can make it through.
So now, when I have this type of worry and angst, I look at my son and I look at my wife and focus on the good stuff. And maybe I’ll take some Tylenol too.