autumn. twenty weeks. lived reality.

We went to our second Meet-the-Midwives gathering last night, and it felt wholly different from the one we attended a couple of months back. At that first meeting, it hurt me to be in a room full of pregnant women. I was bitterly aware of the difference between their experience and mine. I felt excluded, marginalized, extraneous. At the meeting last night, I was thrilled to be in this role. I was excited to ask questions about how my presence might best serve my wife as she labors to bring our child into this world. I felt camaraderie with the fathers in the room. I felt that – when I asked questions about how to be a non-gestational parent during birth – I was asking questions that might serve all of us. I felt open. Expansive. Delighted.

This pregnancy is going by so quickly! We’re already halfway through it, and it seems like we’ve only just now settled in. I’ve realized that if I spend too much time mourning the aspects of this experience that I don’t get (aspects that would have been nice, but that don’t define what it means to parent), I’ll miss so many of the aspects I do get, the ones that are mine.

Feeling him kick. Reading to him. Laying my head lightly on J’s belly so that I’m close to his little, growing body. Cooking for her; ensuring he’s getting the nutrients he needs. Holding her and listening to her and loving her through the scary parts. Sharing the intimacy of these fleeting weeks. 

There’s a good chance I’ll never get to do these things again. If we’re blessed to find work in a state where adoption is available to us, we’ll likely adopt the rest of our children. I’ll miss these early moments. And that’s okay: our other paths will no doubt bring intimacies I can’t even fathom. But these are the ones I get this time, and I’m grateful to have realized how blessed I am to have them. These are the sweet mysteries of bringing this particular child into our world.

If I had to name the one thing that you, as a community, have taught me this summer, it would be this: parenting is a lived reality. It’s not biology. It’s not a particular set of physical or emotional experiences. It’s not the swelling body, the pushing, the bond of nursing. And it’s not about how anyone else perceives you (this has been the hardest one for me: the fear of being seen as less important). It’s the lived reality. The daily commitment. And in this way, parenting is like all of our other roles, so I’m surprised it took me so long to get here. I mean, I’ve known since the day I married J that being her wife was about the lived reality of respecting her, of listening, of learning to compromise. I’ve never questioned my role as her partner, though I know that many people dismiss it entirely.

So: parenthood as lived reality. That was this summer’s lesson. Thanks for that, and happy September!

(I leave you with a photo of my gorgeous, twenty.weeks.pregnant wife. I’m afraid to blink, so quickly is this flying by. Lie to me: tell me that it slows down from here.)


10 thoughts on “autumn. twenty weeks. lived reality.

  1. I just started reading your blog, and although I don’t think we’ve had the same experience, I can relate to some of your feelings about being the “other” parent. This is such a unique time. I’m glad you seem to be treasuring all the special moments. They pass much too quickly.

    • How lovely to have found the blog of two such thoughtful Canadian moms! (We have total Canada-envy.) Thanks for your thoughtful comment; I look forward to more connection with your beautiful family!

  2. Yay! I’m so glad to hear that you are relishing being exactly where you are! It sounds like a pretty great place to be.

    J looks great!

  3. I just found your blog yesterday, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your thoughts on non-gestational parenting, infertility, and loss. While I have not had the same experience as you, my partner and I spent two years trying to conceive using my body. We switched to her, and she is now 21 weeks pregnant. It is also looking like it will not be possible for me to ever carry a child. Although I am, of course, thrilled we were able to conceive, and love our baby immensely already, the last 21 weeks (and the two years before it) have not been without emotional struggle. I wish so much I had found your blog earlier, and am so glad to have found it now, and I continue to redefine my role as a mother. I love they way you put it- parenting as a lived reality.

  4. This comment made my day, Amy. Thank you. We started this blog (before so many things changed) in the hopes of having all this stuff written down for our children in the future. What it’s become is a part of a network that I think of as a lifeline. There are a handful of blogs without which I’m not sure where I’d be. I welcome you to a community of strong, thoughtful mothers, and I’d (we’d) love to know more about your story (including details about the little one on the way!).

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