Those famous words are still as clear as if she were saying it in my ear this moment. I recall being horrified, wondering what we were going to tell her parents. Then I remembered… it’s okay, we’re married!
I was a photographer living in NYC and in the midst of the biggest job of my life when the phone call came. Suddenly I didn’t know which way was up, much less where I had my camera pointed. My mind was a blender, stirring up every emotion and thought I had. But it wasn’t long before the initial panic subsided and pure excitement started to pour out, “I’m going to be a dad!,” I told everyone. And with those words it all started to sink in… my life was about to change.
The next several weeks were spent accumulating as much information as I could get my hands on. I wanted to be the best dad in the world. As thrilled as I was about becoming a father, I was still scared to death. Standing in the parenting section of Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue was overwhelming. There were hundreds of books on dozens of subjects. How to talk to your baby, how to listen to your baby, how to get your baby to sleep, how to feed your baby, how to teach your baby to swim… and it seemed like every book had a different opinion on how you were supposed to do things. All of this research had done nothing but turn my fears into sheer terror.
The panic continued when twenty hours of labor ended with a C-section. When the doctor pulled our baby out of his mom he started screaming like the creature from the movie, “Alien,” and he didn’t stop the entire time the nurses were cleaning him and swaddling him up. Beet red and bawling, a nurse brought him to me. “Hi buddy it’s me, Daddy,” was all I said as I cradled him against my chest. The crying immediately stopped… at least for him. I then started bawling because I knew I was right, my life had changed. In that instant I realized why I was here, to raise this beautiful child, my son. No book in the world can prepare you for a moment like that.
I decided to quit worrying about what all the books said. I’d hold on to the advice and guidance that made sense to me, the very basics, and toss the rest. People had been raising babies for a very long time, mostly without books. What I didn’t know I would figure out.