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Expect Fear When You're Expecting

When we told friends and family that Terry was pregnant, a long time chum E-mailed me: “DO NOT read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It will only freak you out!”

There’s two ways to go with preparing for pregnancy. Either you read everything you can, or you don’t. Terry reads everything. I read everything she tells me to read. Terry is outwardly calm and collected. I’m a nervous wreck.

According to the marriage gap, married people tend to vote more conservatively than unmarried or divorced people. In other words, marriage makes you a Republican and if you’re single or divorced, you’re a Democrat.

I used to think that was bull, until my wife got pregnant.

I’m not going to start advocating the Defense of Marriage Act or a regressive tax structure just yet. But I am aware that literally everything is coming to kill my baby, so I empathize with how the marriage gap could happen. The parents are voting against their fears.

The media is really good at stoking fear about endangered kids. Between the sex offenders, the drugs, the diseases, the car accidents, and even their own parents, it’s a wonder anyone makes it home from the hospital alive.

I think you worry about contemporary fears. When I was brought home after I was born, my Dad woke my Mom up in the night worrying about what would happen if I got hooked on drugs. It was the end of the sixties and that was what was on TV at the time - Lots of hippies at Woodstock.

I wake my wife up worrying about an attack from North Korea. Very understanding, Terry replies, “Gooo tooo sleepz” or something like that, because if the North Koreans attack at night, she’s planning on sleeping through it. I’m not worried about drugs at all; I’m worried about a nuclear or biological attack from out of the blue.

Fear is a powerful motivator. I try not to think about it too much, especially when a lot of the choices are out of my control. I could not feed the kid spinach; but I like spinach. I could not let him fly to see his grandparents, but I like my grandparents.

I wasn’t really worried about these things until Terry got pregnant. This leads me to one of my endless worrying cycles; I worry about something coming to kill my baby, then I realize I can’t do anything about it, then I berate myself for worrying about it. After a short pause, I start all over again.

It’s different for different people. For Terry’s parents, Ronan will be their third grandchild. They are warm, loving and supportive, and they are completely unconcerned about any problems. The first time I saw my parents after the birth announcement, they wanted to know who would get custody in the event of our deaths.

Reading the expectant parent magazines and books helps some, although it’s a little scary to read about every eventuality Terry and the baby face during the birth process. After reading a big chunk and worrying about everything from baby acne to Zellweger Syndrome, I decided to read about things in smaller blocks so it didn’t seem so overwhelming.

The parent magazines don’t help either. Besides really weird pictures of supernaturally happy pregnant women practicing yoga,  they offer up every horrible thing that can happen to your wife and baby in the delivery room. I’ve decided to skip the magazine altogether.

In the movie Parenthood, director Ron Howard depicted parenting as a big roller coaster ride. There was fear and excitement and fun. I don’t think I’ll exhale any time soon.

If Ronan ruins the school play, like the kid in Parenthood, I’m not going to sit there. I’ll get him off the stage. I plan on being a protective, supportive parent.

I know, I know…the best laid plans…


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 31, 2007 10:45 AM.

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