Tom Fearon

Professional communicator in Canberra

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Aug. 25, 2013

By Tom Fearon

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

In less than three months' time I'm going to be a dad. The journey toward parenthood has been an emotional roller coaster. Mood swings, weekend mornings spent puking into the toilet and growing taunts about an expanding waistline make it a grueling process. It's also been pretty tough on my wife.

The best part about being a father-to-be is that none of the attention is on you. Phone calls to the family begin and end with well wishes to my wife. When we announce to friends that we're expecting, they instinctively block me out and gush about how good my wife looks, their hands gently planted on her belly.

I'm not sure how it was for previous generations, but in the 21st century preparing to be a parent means reading a small library of books, watching online birthing videos and checking pregnancy apps daily to find out your baby's latest developments. How ancient civilizations survived without knowing their fetuses' equivalent size in fruit is a mystery.

My wife and I aren't the only ones preparing for a major transition. A hemisphere away, my parents and siblings are excited about their impending titles as grandparents, aunties and uncles. Even my beloved grandma has come to terms with her new, befitting role as great-grandmother.  

The only hint of family conflict emerged during the naming process, although it's empowering to know my wife and I have the final say.

My contribution as a husband and father over the past six months has involved more than just intervening in bouts of morning sickness with a reassuring, "You all right?"

I braved crowds at Ikea seeking little more than air-conditioned refuge to buy a cot, baby bath and other gear apparently necessary for raising a child. I sit each week through Chinese pre-birth classes offered by our hospital that helpfully dispel old wives' tales from conventional science. I've even brushed up on my Chinese pregnancy vocabulary, learning everything from "amniotic fluid" to "zygote" to better understand consultations with our physician.

Of course, friends that are already parents still warn about soon-to-be-sacrificed sleep, social lives and sanity. I know it will be exhausting, but I also know it's far from anything like the doomsday my single friends predicted when I told them I was getting married.

The truth is I really am looking forward to fatherhood.

Each day I head home from work, my mind swims with thoughts about my daughter's first words and steps. There is also a premature surge of protectiveness when I think about her first boyfriend, but thankfully I'll be a surly (and hopefully old) man before that time comes.

I look forward to each night when my daughter shows off her kung fu potential with a series of roundhouse kicks inside her poor mother's womb. I felt silly chanting nursery rhymes to an embryo half a year ago, but now I notice an undeniable connection between my bad singing and baby girl's movements.

With only one trimester standing between us and our cute yet terrifying baby, there is little more for my wife and I to do other than enjoy the final days of our erren shijie, or "two people's world." The countdown expires before the birth, however, when my mother-in-law and doting grandmother-to-be moves in with us next week.

See the original article here.