Thank you to John Kinnear, of Ask Your Dad Blog, for joining in the “This takes guts” blog series, just in time for Father’s Day.
Being a Dad Takes Guts
I was never truly brave until I became a dad. I was never truly brave, because before becoming a father, I was never truly afraid. Like a fortune cookie once told me: Bravery is not the absence of fear. Bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway. Lucky number 978268545.
When my wife and I first found out we were pregnant, my wife clenched the little pee stick in her hand, ran across the room, and jumped into my arms. She was elated, crying, laughing, beaming optimism from every face hole she has. And for the three steps leading up to her leap, so was I. In those moments/days/years before my wife and our microscopic, unborn daughter landed in my arms I was indestructible. I was Superman. And in the few seconds I held the two of them in my arms, it went away. I was no longer Superman. I could be crushed. I was vulnerable. I suddenly had so much to lose, and so much to protect. Everything was different. I just didn’t know it yet.
Twelve weeks later my wife started bleeding. She didn’t tell me at first. I noticed how quiet she was, and asked what was wrong. She looked at me and I watched as her eyes brimmed and overflowed. I took her head to my chest, kissed her cheek and asked again what was wrong. She told me that she thought that we were losing the baby. I felt like a sledge hammer had hit me in the stomach. And at that precise moment I became a dad. We headed to the ER.
Once there they put us in a waiting room and took my wife to have an ultrasound. I wasn’t allowed to go with. Instead I sat in the ER alone and tried to keep my heart from stopping by playing Angry Birds on my phone and waiting for her to come back in the room. OK, I didn’t play angry birds. I stared at the door. I stared at the door and flipped out in my head. When they wheeled my wife back in the door she was smiling.
We hadn’t lost the baby. They found the heartbeat. I wept. She wept. Then we spent 3 hours in the emergency room being told that we had a 50/50 chance, and that there was really no way to predict these things, and that people have been having miscarriages as long as they have been having babies, and we should do our best not to stress because stress is bad for the baby, and please take care of your fifty dollar co-pay before you leave.
And so we went home. The car ride home was silent. She was terrified. I was terrified. I wanted to tell her that everything would be alright. I wanted to tell her that ER doctor sucked and that he had no medical reason to give our kid a coin flip chance of living. I couldn’t find the words to do any of that, so I turned on the radio. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey was on, and it was cliché, and it was horrible, and it was completely out of left field and inappropriate but instead of singing the chorus with the correct words, I started singing “Please stop! Baaleeeeeding! Hold on to that baaaaabyyy”
There was a second where I thought I’d made a huge mistake. I have this horrible way of using humor as a coping mechanism in the most inopportune of moments. My wife raised an eyebrow, and I awaited the fallout. It didn’t come. The corners of her mouth crept up, her eyebrow descended; she absorbed the idiocy of me, pulled it inside her, and let it temporarily pummel the worry we both knew was going to be with us for the next six months. She started laughing. I started laughing too. Then we both cried some more.
After a minute, she grabbed my hand, smiled and told me that this baby was coming, and that she was sure of it, and that that doctor was stupid to tell us what he did. I nodded, smiled back, and drove us home. We were scared, but there was nowhere to go but forward – together. We would be brave.
Our daughter was born six months later, and even though after the birth I didn’t have to worry about a miscarriage anymore, I quickly found out there are exponentially more things to be afraid of. And yet, my life is filled with more joy than I ever thought possible. Being a dad takes guts. It takes guts because you quickly realize how little of your life you actually control. You go from being the center of your own universe to a participant in something much bigger. And it is terrifying. And you do it anyway. Thanks fortune cookie.
author bio – John Kinnear is the dad behind Ask Your Dad Blog, a hands down favorite of the gTeam for his honesty, wit and palm to forehead moments of “yes! that’s what I was thinking, too!” Keep up with “Dad” on facebook and twitter. Ask him anything. Like how he remembered the lucky number in his fortune cookie.