May 5, 2016
The hotel lobby doors part in sync with my closing footsteps. An air-conditioned breeze hits my face and the sterility of the hotel lobby transports me from a day onsite to evening plans with my wife. She coincidentally had a work trip in Denver during my organization’s software go-live, so she was able to spend a night with me in gorgeous Denver, the sunshine state. My eyes scan the lobby and catch her standing with her company-issued black backpack and purple hard shell luggage. She has a “god, I am done with travel for today” look, one I’m intimately familiar with. I wrap up my conversation with my work colleague Jason and greet her with a big hug. It’s Thursday, and we haven’t seen each other since Saturday, when I left for go-live. Hell, I hadn’t seen her since last month. We’re used to being apart, both traveling across the country to implement healthcare software. But I’ve missed her more than usual this week, as today we’re going to take what feels like our thousandth pregnancy test.
It’s been something like nine months since we starting trying to get pregnant. We had no idea what we’re doing, and didn’t think we needed to be overly prescriptive about it. People have sex all the time and accidentally have kids, it shouldn’t be that difficult to do when we’re actually okay with that outcome. But there’s a few factors we had to stumble through before we started doing things (we think) the right way.
First, your body and mind have to be ready to have the babies. When you’ve used various forms of birth control for your entire adult life, your wife’s body has to get back its biological balance. So that took some time for her body to recognize we’re not trying to suppress things for once. From my side, for someone who has tried his whole life to avoid accidentally becoming a father, there was some considerable psychological obstacles. Like, maybe I was actually sterile this whole time? Was it just luck that I hadn’t fathered any children yet?
Shockingly enough, you then have to actually be in the same city at the same time, you know, to have sex. Who would’ve thought? Not only that, you need to time adult-time when your wife’s said biological body is in prime procreating condition, aka ovulating. Being together at the same time, mentally and physically, when the ovulating stars align isn’t that easy for two people traveling three out of four weeks a month. And lastly, and this is important, when all those other pieces fit, you can’t treat making babies like you’re doing the dishes or driving to the bank. It can’t be a sterile, mechanical process where the only goal is to put the players in position.
After a while, that last part hadn’t been so easy for either of us. You start putting a lot of pressure on yourselves after a few months. You know you have to do it, but both my wife and I seemed to excuse ourselves from romantic effort, or even stepping up our personal hygiene. It wouldn’t have hurt me too much to do ten push-ups a day and not eat pizza the night we were going to play creators. But alas, we got ourselves more worked up about the process than just doing the damn thing.
That changed with a frank conversation between husband and wife. We both basically said, “Why the fuck are we trying so hard? Why aren’t we trying to enjoy this?” From that moment on, and I’ll spare you the details, team morale improved. We got our minds right and things have gone really well over the past two months. Still, even if it’s been two months of happy love at the right time of the month, it’s cumulatively felt like a long time.
So today feels like a big occasion. If our pregnancy test ends up being positive, it’ll be a huge celebration for the two of us, and a bigger sigh of relief. If we still aren’t having a baby, we’ll live, but those nagging doubts from a few months ago are going to start coming back up.
Back at the hotel, we say goodbye to Jason as we step out of the elevator onto my hotel room’s floor. Admittedly, I’m a bit nervous. We make our way into my rented room and she sits on the freshly made California king. I ask her about her flight in, though I really don’t care. We both travel and we both know every shitty thing that can happen during travel. It’s a throw away question. My wife must feel the same way as she responds, “it was fine.” I tell her I need to pee before she does, which actually wasn’t a delay tactic. I have the bladder of a woman three times my age.
I finish my business and come back to into the main hotel room, and Rachel is still sitting in the same spot on the bed. She’s bouncing a little bit with anxiety; her hands rubbing her knees with anticipation. She points to the new box sitting on the bed and says, “I know it’s stupid and superstitious, but you need to open this one. I’ve opened every single box and I just can’t open this one.” That sounds like sound logic to me. I don’t want to go another month with no buns in our family oven, and if the box opener could even be loosely correlated to our pregnancy test success, then she needs to step aside.
So I grab and open the box in the same way I’d open a box of Chicken in a Biskit crackers. I pull out the cotton packaging until all that’s left is the test and pull it out. It’s not in a plastic package, which seems kind of gross. Like, why wouldn’t they package these things in plastic? I pull it out and stare at it and it’s like the house lights at a concert finally flip on. My wife already took the test. I look at the math on the pregnancy indicator and I see a plus sign. We’re going to be parents.
Allow me a bit of revisionist history for the past two paragraphs. My anxious wife, who can’t keep a secret from me if her life depended on it (seriously, I’m worried that one day if authorities ever come looking for me, she won’t be able to resist telling them I’m under the floorboards hiding from the fact that I downloaded a bunch of metalcore albums in 2008), is losing her cool and needs me to open the box she compromised earlier in the day. The box is completely unwrapped of its plastic packaging and actually open on the bottom. She was banking on me opening it from the still-sealed top, which I did. Unbeknownst to me, pregnancy test kits don’t come with cotton packaging. The cotton I yanked out and threw to the bed was a onesie with “hello dad!” written on it. I completely skipped that part. The pregnancy test, again unwrapped, finally set me off.
She calls me out, “you didn’t even look at the onesie, you just threw it!” as she lays it flat so I can read it. I start tearing up and yelling out how happy I am. My wife gets on one knee, and asks me if I will do her the honor of being her baby’s father and slips a pacifier on my finger. Considering how cute and intentionally cheesy her proposal is, she sounds surprisingly nervous to ask. I hug her and we collectively breath a sigh of excitement and relief. The weight of the past nine months melts away and we float above the third floor hotel carpet.
May 5, 2017
My son wakes up with an ear-to-ear smile. He is loud and giggly and distracted. He spits up all over his mom and smiles while he does it. He’s a talker and likes seeing how much of his hands he can shove into his mouth. My wife is running late, showering and blow drying her hair furiously. She has an appointment with our personal trainer and still needs to collect everything she needs for the day, including her breast pump parts.
I’m changing the boy’s diaper and talking to him two octaves higher than I typically speak. I’ve been working on toning it down to a manageable range, but my mom talks to babies and animals with the same high-pitched tone. I think it’s genetic. I put him in his blue and green striped bodysuit with a small triceratops over his heart. He’s patient while I load him into his car seat and even smiles as I strap him in. I drive him the 300 feet to our daycare and he’s greeted by the staff and the other baby there this morning. I hate saying goodbye to him in the mornings, but know that I have a full day of adult shit to do before I can get back to him. This is exactly the life I hoped for in that hotel room one year ago.