That’s pretty much how I remembered how I reacted. Claire came out of the bathroom with the “dipstick” in her hands and showed it to me. Two plus signs. Oh ! And then a smile. I think I smiled all day (some say this is pretty rare…).
We’d been waiting for those plus signs for months. Well, I may or may not have been waiting for years, I won’t say.
But, there I was. I was going to be a father. Amazing at first, daunting soon after, then, exciting ! February 14th, perfect Sunday. We were on our way to the brewery for Claire’s birthday (see previous entry). I think secretly, she’d been doing that last test to know whether she’d be allowed more than a sip of beer that day or not. I would have to cover for her then.
First there were the initial ultrasounds. The first one was too early, all we could see was a sack. It’s the technical term apparently, poor little bugger, reduced to a sack, or a yolk. At least it confirmed the pregnancy, but we were two weeks too early to see anything. The second one a couple of weeks later revealed a tiny heartbeat, just a flicker on the screen, the size of a grain of rice, if that. But the yolk was no longer a yolk, it was a baby. Our baby. We made that.
By the size of that tiny flickering dot, they can tell the due date, how far along we are, all that. Pretty amazing really. Millions of questions raced through my head. The first one was to decide where to have the baby. Hospital feel safe but also feel like a factory, where mums come in by the dozens, hop hop baby comes soon after. It’s cold and, well excuse the pun, clinical. Then the option of a birthing centre came naturally. Less of a white and aseptic feel, more like a home. This is also where Claire can safely give birth in a large tub-like pool, I can be next to her, or in the water if I want to. We’ll make a little scuba diver ! Yeah !
So, she, will be born in a pool, then come home soon after the midwife clears both Claire and her. No epidural, no laying on a table screaming like in the movies. All quiet and comfortable. Well, that’s the theory anyway. Claire may very well be clenching my hand so hard it snaps, or yelling how much an asshole I am, that I don’t know pain, that all this is my fault… Yes, darling, push, I love you too.
We had the 20 weeks scan a while ago now (we’re on the 25th week). He’s already shy from the camera (like dad) because he had his hands and arms in front of his face all the time but we did see the profile clearly, can’t quite decide if that’s my nose or Claire’s though. She is also (like mum) restless because the operator (is that how they are called ? radiographer ? scanner ? ultrasound thingo lady ?) had a hard time focusing on one body part, damn kid kept on wiggling.
Every week, Claire’s belly is getting rounder, and there’s still three months to go. Pretty cool though, to think there’s a baby in the making in there. I bought a doppler, it’s a mini ultrasound machine, about the size of a small apple. It’s a cat and mouse game, where I have to move it against Claire’s belly and locate the heartbeat. Sometimes all I hear is out-of-space sounds, but most of the time it’s “ka-doom, ka-doom, ka-doom, ka-doom” and I know my baby’s safe, growing in there. In a couple of weeks (days ?) I’ll be able to feel it move, and play with her. Maybe even talk or play some music.
(Note that I keep using his/her alternatively. We don’t know, and don’t want to know. At least I don’t. Claire may later on, but I like surprises. So it makes the names shortlist a bit more difficult, but we have our top five for both sexes.).
The baby started kicking about a month ago. Not super comfortable for the Mum but so damn cool to have that “interaction”. It’s not like soccer of course but there’s definitely movement.
Regardless of when we get the permanent residency status, he’ll be born with his dad’s nationality, apparently it’s the law. We’ll have to file for dual French citizenship, and depending on the visa status, she’ll also be Australian by birth, or not. Three passports then, what a great start in life. Able to travel almost anywhere, speaking and hearing two languages from day one.
I bought tons of books, well Claire gave me tons of books to read. Dad for Dummies, Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide, … Probably the first time I ever read a manual to be fair. I know now what to buy and what’s useless, baby-proof the house, what to eat and not to eat, or get ready for sleep-less nights (like I don’t lack sleep already). I also know all the technical terms, and all the theory. All of it. I even read the New Dad’s Survival Guide. Bring it on, I’m ready mate ! We also had to get rid of the HiLux, it was getting too high for Claire to (literally) climb in, so we got a more reasonable, family-oriented, Mazda6 station-wagon. Claire’s in love with it. And though it’s my first “real car” for well over a decade (I’ve always owned fourbys or minivans) I admit it’s kinda nice to drive. I do feel “vulnerable” sitting so low on the road, but at least the six or eight airbags and the Isofix clips and the many features will protect the whole family. (Family, another term I have to get used to saying).
We met the midwife, Christina. She still counts and throws the odd word in Dutch, ever since she sailed to Australia in the early 60ies as a kid. It’s good to know we’re in good hands, with all her experience, “old school” methods and no nonsense. It’s a pretty cool setup really, we get a “team” of designated midwives, whom Claire can call day or night if she ever feels the need to. If she’s not available on “the day” another will be there to deliver the baby. Pretty well organised. So far, Claire hasn’t been “too” sick, there is the odd migraine, or digestive issue, but so far so good, she really wants to keep working as late as possible.
I’ve finished the books on pregnancy, we’re now in the middle of a method (bought over the Internet, with a couple of hours’ worth of live one-on-one question time with the author in Quebec) about managing pain. My role is to learn massage techniques, Claire’s is to relax and learn yoga. That’s a very short summary but that’s all I know so far…
Can’t wait for the Panicking First Dad’s Survival Guide !
(And yes, we have a shortlist of names, but you won’t know just yet)