The Lily Story, Chapter 3 – Immediate Reactions

In chapter 2, I related how Amanda told me that we were pregnant

Before I get going, I am going to go on a little rant. Skip it if you want – it has little to do with the story, just a little bone to pick with critics of word choice. Click “Rant” to expand it.

Rant
Yes. I used a plural self-referential word. WE were pregnant. I understand that some people don’t have the father around, but Amanda and I are very much involved in one another’s lives. We are very closely connected. We are biologically connected – we make food for each other according to our tastes and are involved with each other’s medical care. There is good evidence  to say that our minds are linked, in a metaphysical manner. Nothing magical or anything, it’s just that: we are connected. Yes, she is literally carrying the child. I am literally the only one allowed to clean the bathroom with harsh cleaners now. She has to “eat for 2”. I have to stay at work even though everything in me wants to go home and build something for Lily. She gets nauseous. I get her whatever she needs when she can no longer walk around that day. She goes to her doctor, I make midnight runs to the store for frozen pizza without peppers.

If you have ever thought, said or felt anything along the lines of

“I am so pregnant. My [boyfriend/husband/friend/parent/etc] should [go to the store/cook/lift that thing/etc.] for me because pregnancy makes things hard.”

Then you are openly admitting that other people are involved in your pregnancy – it actively involves them and affects them. They are carrying a portion of your burden. They are likely even biologically connected to your child in some way, considering that biology does not stop at the borders of your body.

To say that Amanda and I are were not collectively growing Lily is to completely discount my role in her formation – right down to the source of the nutrients that build her body – meaning I literally worked in order to buy food that goes directly to building Lily’s physical form. Amanda couldn’t have started it without my DNA, and she didn’t do it without my help – whether or not she could have.

I am all for women being highly respected for being the ones that grow babies, as well as many other qualities that men either cannot or do not display. I am not all for discounting the role of other people in their lives, and one’s partner while one is pregnant plays a very important role.

So don’t ever criticize anyone for saying “We are pregnant”, because they are.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system:

We were pregnant. I was sitting in a church parking lot under a little scraggly tree on my phone with my wife. My pregnant wife. The sun was shining very brightly. That moment after we hung up the phone was a very long moment.

I was at the beginning of realizing that I had no clue what was going to happen.

I am an anxious sort of person, I always know what’s going to happen. Not because I am some prophet or something, but because I have this intense desire to always appear to be very well composed and calm. This desire leads to me constantly thinking about what I am going to do when something happens, or when I do something, or when I go somewhere. I do this head-on-a-swivel thing when I am in a new situation: I try to turn my surroundings into a fire hose of information that I am trying to access and analyze in real time, so that I can develop some really good heuristics for the next time I am in a similar situation. I have become very good at this.

But there I was, contemplating a situation that will now change all other situations to come after it. No mental shortcuts applied here. My mind was in totally new territory. The very soil of this territory had a signal-jamming effect that forced me to re-evaluate everything. Simple things. Things like interacting with others. Even sitting next to other people (as I was about to do when I went back in to the lecture) presented a new situation that I had never before encountered.

  • “What do I tell them when they ask where I was?”
  • “Do I smile and enjoy the joy? Or should I wait until I am alone?”
  • “What if I start crying?”
  • “Do I just leave and try to explain later?”
  • “What if I accidentally let slip what I just learned? Should I be telling people right now? Can I trust these guys to keep it quiet? What if I tell them or lose my cool and later we lose the baby and then I have to tell people all of that?”

This is a sample of what went through my head by the time I had gotten back to the door. You know, all 20 feet. I still don’t remember even generally speaking what the lecture was about.

So my mind did this thing that I am at a loss of words to describe. “Fuzzy” is pretty close. Like you are walking through thick mist in a familiar neighborhood, and something hidden in the mist is making an unfamiliar noise. You have no idea exactly what is right around you, but you know where you are. You have no idea exactly what is happening, but you’re pretty sure that nothing is about to hurt you. You aren’t scared, but you’re not sure that feeling safe is a good idea.

It was a pretty strange feeling. I can’t say that I’ve gotten used to it, even now – when Lily is eight weeks old. But I can say that it is an interesting paradigm to find oneself in. And you don’t stop living life just because your brain wants to go find a corner to hide in and scream.

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