My wife Ashley asked me to share my perspective of the past seven months. It’s been fascinating to watch how Ashley and I have changed, often in ways we didn’t expect. Here are a few of the moments that really stand out to me.
This journey all started back in late December, when Ashley first told me she was pregnant. That, of course, is the first moment that really stands out in my mind. Ashley and I weren’t actively trying to get pregnant, but we had stopped actively trying to prevent it, too. We both agreed that we were as ready as we were going to get, so I knew that the news could hit at any time.
Still, when Ashley said she wanted to give me a late Christmas present, I didn’t think much of it. I unwrapped the gift and saw that she had made homemade tickets to the Iowa-Maryland football game this fall. As a huge Hawkeye fan, I was excited…but I was completely floored when I saw that she had made a tiny ticket for our baby as well! Her way of telling me about her pregnancy took me totally by surprise…and I was over the moon, as you can imagine!
One of the toughest parts for me about the pregnancy was not immediately shouting the news from the rooftops! We wanted to keep the news a secret for a few months to give the baby some time to grow. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to keep the news quiet!
While it was great to hear that Ashley was pregnant, it honestly didn’t seem real until we went to the doctor and I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. That “whow whow whow whow” sound of our child’s heart beating is something I’ll never forget. I was amazed that something so small could have such a strong beating heart already!
But now it’s time to get to the good stuff, because I’m sure what you all want to read about more than anything are the changes I’ve seen in Ashley!
My expectations about Ashley’s pregnancy were entirely shaped by movies, television, and other popular media. You hear all the stories about morning sickness, so coming into this, I expected Ashley to be hunched over the toilet every morning for the first four months of her pregnancy. And I know that is true for many women, but Ashley must have lucked out. I haven’t had to deal with my wife vomiting all the time, so that’s a plus!
What I didn’t expect was Ashley all of a sudden being completely wiped by 8:30 PM every night! Many nights I wouldn’t even be finished eating dinner when I’d look over and Ashley was already out cold. We’d be sitting on the couch watching a show on television, and I’d look over to see Ashley in a deep, deep sleep well before 9 PM. That baby definitely sucked a lot of energy out of her for a while!
Ashley has always been a dreamer, but the pregnancy kicked that into high gear! I’ve gotten used to Ashley asking and saying the strangest things to me in her sleep. One night Ashley had gone to bed around 9 PM, so I came to bed later. When I came into the bedroom, a sleeping Ashley sat up and asked, “Do you have any charcoal?”
Now, we had talked about buying a grill at some point, but we didn’t own one yet. I laughed and said, “Uh, no, sweetie…I don’t have any charcoal.” She replied, “Oh…I thought it was dark in here.” Then she went back to sleep. Ashley, of course, didn’t remember any of this the next morning.
On another occasion when I came to bed, Ashley looked at me and said, “You need to buy me something to clean the floor.” I asked her what exactly I would need to buy her to clean the floor, and with an accusatory tone she explained, “Because you put me in the middle of a Western.”
Ashley also went through a phase where her tastes became remarkably similar to a two-year-old’s. That’s not an insult – everyone knows that a nice bowl of macaroni and cheese makes me about as happy as anything. But there was a month or so there where Ashley was craving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wanted to watch Care Bears cartoons every single evening. On the plus side, I learned a lot about sharing and caring during that time.
Sleep has definitely been the most unexpectedly challenging aspect of Ashley’s pregnancy for me. To help her sleep, Ashley purchased a pregnancy pillow in the shape of a giant candy cane. I kid you not, that thing takes up the whole bed! I’ll wake up sometimes in the middle of the night pressed all the way to the edge of the bed, nudged to the perimeter by an intrusive, plush, candy-cane shaped pillow!
There were the usual hormonal issues, too. I’ll never forget one time when Ashley and I were having a fairly normal conversation and all of a sudden, Ashley bursts into tears. I said, “Sweetie, why are you crying?” She looked at me with a quivering lip and said, “I…don’t…know!” She admitted that there was absolutely nothing wrong…she was just getting in a good cry!
The other emotional issue is that Ashley has a heightened sense of worry about my well-being. Ashley always tells me to be careful now before I leave the house, even when I’m just taking Theodore for a walk. If I’m taking a road trip to a Divas practice, Ashley always sends me out the door with the words, “Don’t get robbed.” I guess that’s her protective nature starting to kick in.
And she’s not the only one. I remember getting sick at one point and being terrified of getting Ashley and the baby sick. I kept my distance for well over a week, and I realized just how worried I had become over the welfare of this little baby.
Ashley’s food cravings are something to behold. Nothing outlandish, but they seem to change on a daily basis. Every day she craves something different…except beer and lunchmeat, both of which she can’t/won’t have and both of which she reminds me how much she misses every single day! But really, she hasn’t had the crazy cravings you see in movies. The one I’ll always remember, though, is the time she sent me to the grocery store specifically to pick up a rotisserie chicken.
Ashley has had a few symptoms of pregnancy brain, too. There was a time when Ashley had me searching the house high and low for a pair of shoes that had last been seen in her backpack, only to find twenty minutes later that they were still in her backpack the whole time. One evening I came home from work and reached in my pocket for the keys to unlock the front door when I saw that Ashley’s keys were still dangling in the lock!
On yet another occasion, Ashley started to make an omelet and then got distracted and joined me outside. When we went back inside, we could both smell an omelet burning! It’s been an adventure, to say the least. Ashley is usually the organized one, while I’m a bit absent-minded…so it has been a strange role reversal the past few months.
This is all in good fun, of course. In all seriousness, I have so much love and admiration for Ashley and how she’s handled the pregnancy. I’ve said this jokingly, but I truly mean it – I’m glad I’m not the one carrying the baby! I don’t think I could handle it…at least not as well as Ashley has.
At the risk of saying, “I told you so,” I had a feeling from the very start that we were having a girl. Don’t know why, I just had an inkling. Still, whenever my male brain thought about raising our baby, I always naturally pictured it being a boy for some reason.
When we went in for our gender reveal session and the doctor said it was a girl, I’ll be honest…I had a bit of an internal freak out. I don’t know how to raise a girl! I don’t know anything about girls! The only thing I know about girls is that I married one…and I don’t understand her half the time, either!
Mentally, I fast-forwarded through her adolescence and on through her teenage years, prom, dating, and so forth. How was I going to handle raising a girl? Do I need to buy a shotgun now?
I settled down a bit when I realized all of that is well into the future. I’ll handle that as it comes…for now, I’m just going to enjoy the thought of cradling my baby girl in my arms. There’s a special bond that a father and daughter have, and I can’t wait to experience it first-hand.