other people’s babies.

For the first 24 years of my life, my interest in babies was precisely zero. When a parent asked if I’d like to hold their baby, I would politely decline and then back away from the baby as if I’d encountered a snake in the woods. Something about babies made me deeply uncomfortable. They were little blobs of barely-human, unable to communicate in anything but gurgles, poops, and caterwauls. Why not just get an actual cat?

It wasn’t until my 25th year that I experienced my first paternal urge. It welled up inside of me out of nowhere and it terrified me. How could I possibly want to father a child, given the reality that all children begin as babies? Let alone the fact that babies become toddlers — ceaselessly energetic snotmonsters intent on destroying everything their parents hold dear. The baby phase itself was all the birth control I needed. So where did this urge even come from?

It only got worse with time. By my late 20s I found myself oohing and awwing at babies and small children in the same way I’d always reacted to seeing an adorable animal. There was genuine love in my heart for these creatures. Most bizarrely, I began to feel a longing to provide food, shelter, and emotional support to one or two of them, should the opportunity to procreate ever arise. What was becoming of me?

I’ve lost it completely in my 30s. Not only do I accept babyhood as a stage of humanity and find babies altogether endearing, I also can’t control my amusement with their stuff. Baby toys. Baby clothes. Blankets and crib skirts. Area rugs and nursery wall art. I can’t get enough of it.

The clinching moment occurred in May, when Lauren and I were in a toy shop in Portland, Maine, just a few weeks after we learned we were pregnant. I went into this store assuming I’d be unmoved by any of its contents. I was proven wrong on two counts: 1) They had an excellent selection of tabletop games; 2) THIS:
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The Skip Hop Activity Elephant. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It was displayed eye-level next to other activity animals — monkey, owl, puppy, lion — but I only had eyes for the elephant. I imagined our child playing with this silly thing, crinkling its crinkly feet and squeezing its squeaky ear. It was the first time I’d clearly envisioned our child doing anything, and it brought me to tears. The activity elephant had brought me to tears.

There’s no turning back now. When I see other people’s babies, I am filled with anticipation and excitement for what’s to come. Dozens of people have told us, “Enjoy these last couple months of peace and quiet. Your life will never be quiet again.” It doesn’t faze me. This baby is going to make a lot of noise and a lot of poop. Our house won’t be clean again until 2033. We won’t stop worrying about the child until we’re dead. To all this I say: bring it on.

When I see other people’s babies, I know that I’m ready.

sympathy weight is real.

I have gained around fifteen pounds since we learned Lauren was pregnant. The weight is most visible in my midsection and in my face. My jeans are tight. My large shirts no longer fit. I am strictly extra-large for the first time in a couple years.

I am constantly hungry. I am craving sweets like never before. I bought myself some vegan dark chocolate to help me avoid trips to our much less healthy Halloween candy bowl. The result is that I’m just alternating back and forth between healthy and unhealthy candy. I don’t even care. It’s all fucking delicious and I totally deserve it.

Sympathy weight is real. It doesn’t come from hormones. It doesn’t come from actual feelings of sympathy. It comes from having a legitimate excuse to eat a lot of junk food. The excuse isn’t that you’re stressed out and need a few extra treats to cope. The excuse isn’t that your partner is having ice cream cravings and needs a buddy to help her finish off the latest pint. The excuse isn’t that you’re going to be a dad and that’s awesome, so why not celebrate.

The excuse is simply that sympathy weight is real.

I was reminded of the reality of sympathy weight at some point during the first trimester. I can’t remember how — it may have been a conversation or something I read in a book. Either way, that mention of sympathy weight planted a seed in my brain that sympathy weight was a real thing that I would be dealing with soon. And so I spent the next few months realizing the inevitability of sympathy weight, specifically by eating a lot of delicious food.

Realistically, if I really put my mind to it, I should be able to gain another five pounds or so before the baby arrives. I’ll keep you updated.

morning hangout sessions with baby.

I’m an early riser. Lauren likes to sleep in. Every morning before she wakes I rest my hand on her belly and feel his movements. Sometimes it’s a quick little tap and a gurgle. Sometimes it’s like Lauren’s whole torso is convulsing. Most often it’s a limb gently protruding, just enough to push my hand up half an inch. I like to push back and see if he responds. It’s kind of like we’re high fiving.

I assumed visible kicks would gross me out, but I find myself watching Lauren’s belly to make sure I don’t miss them. It’s the closest I can get to feeling like I know him. Yes, I won’t truly know him until he’s complex enough to be an individual — and before that happens, he still has to finish being a fetus, and then a little bug-eyed poop machine.

For now, we have our morning routine, and I have my imagination. I like to daydream about the walks we’ll take and the games we’ll play, the bond we’ll forge when our hands can touch.

Due date: 64 days.
Excited grandparents: 7.
Onesies received as gifts: More than we can count.