The Father-To-Be: Not Expecting the Expected

Perhaps I should have saved this topic for mid-July—thirty-six years after it happened. But since it relates to fatherhood, and yesterday was Father’s Day, I’ll post it today.

I’ve mentioned the “treasures” I found when cleaning some cupboards over the last several months. One treasure was an “all-porpoise” card from my husband to his great-aunt. His aunt saved the card and gave it back to us many years later.

In the card—a Hallmark card, of course—my husband wrote:

“The ‘porpoise’ of this card is to let you know that Theresa is expecting a baby!—or so she thinks. . . . We haven’t told any of our friends yet, but we want our families to know.”

He followed with some family news, and ended with “I hope you find our good news agreeable.”

When he wrote the card on July 14, 1981, my husband was able to refer to it as “good news.” But by that time he had had two or three weeks to internalize his new status as father-to-be.

The story behind the story is that he was quite stunned when I first gave the news to him. He wasn’t unhappy, just incredulous. I think he had understood the possibility of pregnancy on an intellectual level, but the reality was still unexpected. “I can’t believe it” were his first words. His impending fatherhood didn’t really sink in until he saw me too queasy for breakfast several mornings in a row.

He turned out to be a wonderful father. Somewhat strict and a little old-fashioned, but nicer than I was and more patient with childish foibles.

Except on Sunday mornings when the kids didn’t want to get up. Then we were all treated to a rousing rendition of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. That got them out of bed in a hurry.

How did you react to impending parenthood?

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