Throughout my life, I have been on more adventures than I can even count. I've been to war. I've traveled north of the Arctic Circle, south of the equator and so many places in between. There was a time when my passport was so well-used, it looked as though it had been a dog's chew toy. Those days have since passed, and I thought my greatest adventures in life were well behind me until one moment in my master bathroom changed everything.
Nearly nine months ago, I started to wash off the day, brush my teeth and get ready for bed. It was a mundane moment, and there was nothing to prevent it from becoming just another random point in time which is destined to fade from all memory. That was, until my wife walked in, handed me a small gift-wrapped box, and said, "Here, open it."
Having no clue what was inside, I opened the box to find a small plastic stick with a blue plus sign showing through a transparent window. We did it; she was pregnant.
My only experience in life with pregnancy was through movies and television, and I thought this was going to be a breeze. After all, pregnancy is fun, easy and nothing but a series of comical mishaps, right? Well, that was not the first time I was wrong, and it is definitely not going to be the last.
The process started out simply enough with a trip to the doctor consisting of little more than confirming that she was, in fact, pregnant. To this point, it all seemed almost like a non-event. I thought, "Is this really what pregnancy was going to be like?" Then, something amazing happened.
Several weeks later, my wife and I went for our first ultrasound, and we saw the first glimpse of what we had produced. Even more incredible, we heard the baby's heartbeat. At that very moment, it hit me like a freight train that my wife wasn't just pregnant, but I was becoming a father. It sounds like simple enough concept, but the first time that thought really sinks in and you truly digest its meaning, it is just indescribable.
Nothing since has been routine or mundane in any way. My wife has dealt with the misery of constant nausea for the first three months, followed by mood swings, back aches, swollen ankles, constipation and eating pickles faster than we could replace them. I'll never forget the look on her face at the moment she was getting dressed in front of the mirror and conceded to the fact that it was time for maternity clothes. Frequent trips to the bathroom, even at one, three, and five o'clock every morning, have become part of her routine, and she has not had a solid four hours of sleep in months.
Mixed in between these negatives, however, have been the thrills and excitements of becoming parents. We have been buying baby clothes and toys, painting the nursery, setting up the crib and resting our hands on her stomach each night to feel the bumps of our baby moving and wiggling within her. Nothing even comes close to the joy we felt the day the ultrasound technician told us our baby appeared completely healthy, was developing normally and we were having a little boy.
Over the months, my life and my priorities have change in so many ways. Instead of saving for our next cruise, we are saving for my wife's maternity leave. Instead of stocking up on beer for our next party, we are stocking up on diapers to avoid the financial shock certain to be coming our way. And instead of reading about cars and computers, I find myself reading about changing diapers and the skill of getting a baby to sleep through the night.
The greater portion of our time now centers around preparing our home and ourselves for this new person who will soon be in our lives. I reflected upon all of this the other day, and that is when an incredible feeling came over me: I realized I'm not just preparing to be a father, I'm becoming a "Dad." I also realized my wife's pregnancy is not the journey; it's just the very start of the most exciting, unnerving and rewarding adventure of our lives. This is all just the very first step of the greatest and most important thing I will ever become.
Last night, I was laying with my wife, my hands resting gently on her stomach, when it hit me how lucky we both were. We're going to have our child soon, then possibly more, and one day, they will be grown and have children of their own. Time will pass, we will grow old, and there will be a night when one of us will need to lay down for the first time with the other no longer there. It is then, as this life together has met its end, that the one who is left behind will be willing to trade anything to come back to this moment, the very beginning, and get to live this incredible adventure all over again.
The laws of physics and the rules of the universe don't allow us to go back and relive our lives; we only get one turn on this ride. That being the case, I know I better not waste a single moment and enjoy every second of this process of being a Dad. And here I was, thinking my best adventures were behind me -- oh, how wrong we can be.