January 31, 2008

Frazzled Fatherhood

Sometimes I feel as if I've completely run out of things to say. Run out of ideas. Like all the ideas have been siphoned out of my head in the middle of the night by some street thug who needed a quick fix, to mainline some ideas of his own but couldn't be bothered to come up with them the old fashioned way. On days like those, I'll sit in front of my laptop, screen blank, cursor blinking, mocking me.

This is not one of those times.

Today, I have lots of ideas. I had something I was working on entitled The Most Boring Books Ever which was destined to be a classic until my laptop decided for no apparent reason to turn off and take the post with it. If you're curious, the front runner was, at the time of spontaneous laptop shutdown, the 700 page 2007-2012 Outlook for Paper Towels in the United States. I shit you not. That's a real book. Or, in my world, kindling. Anyway, despite all this stuff floating around inside my head I can focus on one thing. And one thing only. I will be a father, again, anytime now. How freaky is that?

I thought I would be less nervous this time around. I thought I'd mastered this thing. Turns out, I'm vaguely terrified. Doubts, fears, elation and excitement are all swirling around my head making it extremely difficult for me to focus. So instead of focusing, I'm doing crazy shit like getting completely lost on the way to work - someplace I've been going for the last six years. Or getting off the elevator on the wrong floor. Or walking into the ladies' restroom. Luckily for me, that last one happened very early in the morning and there was no one to offend. The lack of urinals was an immediate tip-off.

So forgive me, my friends, if I'm a bit frazzled today. I'm a little nervous. Make me feel better - what's the most nervous you've ever been, and why?

Posted by Chris at January 31, 2008 7:01 AM

Awww you're so cute. Hubby's been having similar reactions, but I'd chalked it up to twins coming. Guess it's a normal daddy thing.

Most nervous ever? Meeting my mother-in-law for the first time face to face. I knew how amazing she was already and was worried about being a disappointment to her. We were already married not quite a year (she was unable to come over from her country). She was wonderful. She (literally) gave me her blessing, inscribed the sign of the cross on my forehead. Sadly, she was also terribly sick with cancer and died a couple weeks later.

Posted by: ocdcontrolfreak at January 31, 2008 7:27 AM

Chris, it is totally normal for you to be freaking out. Really.

The most nervous time for me would be the night I asked for a divorce. With 2 kids under the age of 5, I made the right choice, but, damn, that was one long and hard time.

Then there is the time they thought I had a brain tumor...

And the time the man I loved more than anything told me he had to take time from our relationship to see what would grow "organically" between him and another woman.

So, yeah...a few hee hee haw breaths after the coffee today, man. And, stay away from Curious Bathroom Incidents. Seeing a clown shoe in your state could be detrimental.

Have a good one, dude.


Posted by: Julia at January 31, 2008 7:35 AM

It's sweet that you're this nervous. Also that you're willing to share it. Looks like you've got the male version of "mommy brain". I know that when I am nervous about things or my brain is in overdrive (nearly every day on that one), that I do the same things you are. Just yesterday I missed the exit on the freeway where I get off to get my daughter from school. Bad thing is, that's like "last chance exit". Had to go 20 more miles until I hit another one. And I've been going that route for over two years now.

Most nervous I've been? It was during my first pregnancy when I knew that it was going to be me and her against the world.

Lamaze breathing may benefit you and Beth both right now. :) Breathe in, breathe out!

Posted by: js at January 31, 2008 8:14 AM

The most nervous I have ever been was this one time I took this girl back to my dorm room to show her my knife and porn collection and campus security busted in the door.

Nervousness and doing weird things is the male equivalent to "Nesting."

Posted by: william at January 31, 2008 8:16 AM

At my wedding, I didn't think I was nervous at all. In fact, something kicked in for me that morning that allowed me to let things just flow and not worry about any of it. That is, until I began to read my vows. You know how people describe being weak in the knees, their legs shaking? That was the one and only time I seriously thought I was going to collapse into a pile as my knees gave way.

Posted by: claire at January 31, 2008 8:27 AM

Waiting for my dad to get to the church on my wedding day. I had not cried the entire day until he walked in the little room and that is when I realized that I was so nervous I was shaking so hard my flowers were shaking.

Posted by: Dee at January 31, 2008 8:33 AM

Oh my hell - in high school, I was in choir, and there was a trio of us to do a group "solo" in the spring concert. The plan was there would be us three altos, and then one of the baritones would sing with us... The day of the concert, the other two altos didn't show up. I had to do a solo - of course, I had the guy singing his part, but it was obvious then which was me and which was him. I have an okay voice. Probably not one suitable for singing a solo in front of hundreds of people - and certainly not suitable with my nerves. To this day, the song "DannY Boy" makes me cringe.

Posted by: Sarah at January 31, 2008 8:33 AM

Relax, breathe... you need pre-labor daddy anxiety classes... once that boy actually arrives it will be all old hat. Mia will help you!!

PS the lack of urinal cake smell probably would alert to "not the mens room" too... just a guess

Posted by: Stephanie at January 31, 2008 8:40 AM

At one point in 1999, I was due to graduate, had a sweet job I'd signed up for, a $100,000 house I'd signed up to buy, a wife to support, had ended my apartment lease, and had not yet earned the grades to make any of that happen. It was the most excruciating 3 months of my life. I found out my grades on a warm April day, and I literally skipped out of the building, screaming like a crazed-but-happy mad man. I can't help but think of how my life might be very different if I hadn't pulled those grades that I needed.

Equal to that feeling, but only lasting a day, was the day our first child was born. We were... a bit late to the party.


Posted by: Brad at January 31, 2008 8:43 AM

I'm totally freaking out right now because we're supposed to fly to Hawaii in April. 8 hours of flying while I'm 7 months pregnant and accompanied by a toddler who does not sleep on planes and gets restless and agitated after the first 3 hours of a flight. And then we get to turn around and do it again for the return flight.
I would give just about anything not to have to go on this trip, but it's my MIL's birthday wish and she planned it a year ago. So it looks like we're going. And I might just go insane.

Posted by: Amy at January 31, 2008 8:59 AM

I'm sure everyone has already told you that what you are experiencing is normal. I think we all start to experience that feeling when we realize that we did little more than survive the infancy of the first child, and probably learned very little in the process.
Survival mode kicks in again the second time. And surprisingly, you find that it's not as bad as you thought it would be, and that maybe you did learn a little something along the way. But along with the joy of watching your family grow and the people around grow as they relate to this new little person, is the borderline panic that your responsibilities are growing. It's intimidating to be responsible for so much when you still feel like you have no idea what you are doing. I have a feeling that you and Beth will figure it out just fine. You two are cool like that.

The most nervous I ever was? The last weeks leading up to giving birth to my second child. I was nervous and afraid the second delivery would not go as quickly or be as uncomplicated as the first. I was nervous and afraid that the second time nursing would not go as smoothly, and then when I went back to work, I was nervous I would be unable to handle the two kids and the house and the being a good wife and the 40+ hours a week job.
The labor and delivery went fine, the nursing and pumping went great...as for the rest, I think on most days I'm ok...and on the days I don't think I'm ok, I just make sure when I go home I have a drink! lol

Posted by: Varinia at January 31, 2008 9:04 AM

Congrats Chris. I know you're excited too. I wasn't sure about having 2 children myself and now that my second is 3, I am so glad we did. Have 2 kids makes a family really feel complete (no offense to families that have less... it's just a different feeling).

Posted by: august at January 31, 2008 9:15 AM

Seventh grade. First time I had to do an "oral report" in front of my class. Extreme terror. Shoot, now they have first graders doing them, which is a good thing, I guess. By middle school they should be public speaking pros.

Posted by: Jeff St Real at January 31, 2008 9:37 AM

I am Queen Nervous. Too many things to count. But my company and Declan sure rank.

And you guys are awesome parents, it will be rocky for a while, but when things get settled, what a lovely family of four you will be on the other side!

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at January 31, 2008 9:37 AM

The most nervous I have ever been was the few hours before I left for the hospital to have my second child. Really.

But it's all OK now. Hang in there.

Posted by: Alissa at January 31, 2008 9:59 AM

I haven't given birth, and I wasn't nervous at my wedding (at all, which humorously enough, freaked everyone else out), but...

last night I was home alone in my husband's townhouse (OK, our house, but I've only lived there five months), and I went into the bedroom and when I turned on the light to the closet, the bulb went out. And terror struck right into the center of my heart. I'd completely forgotten my irrational yet amazingly strong fear of the dark. I couldn't get out of the room fast enough. And couldn't go back into the bedroom, because clearly there was a madman waiting in the dark recesses of the closet, wanting to kill me. My rational brain knew that everything was fine, but like that mattered. Hubby came home, bravely entered the room and replaced the light bulb like it was no big deal, and only laughed at me when I couldn't see it. He's nice like that.

Posted by: Kelly at January 31, 2008 10:11 AM

Maybe walking in the women's room wasn't a mistake at all. Maybe it's your brains way of telling you you are nervous about being a daddy to a SON! I'm glad some men have the courage to admit their fears. But you'll be fine Chris...once your lil boy starts sleeping thru the night, you'll be back to yourself (I just won't say in no time...some of those babies seem to never wanna sleep thru the night...like my already 6 year old!)...did that help you at all? Sorry Cactus man...I'm rambling!

Posted by: Tera at January 31, 2008 10:24 AM

Wow there are many - I am girl who has lived in fear which generates massive nervousness on my part... I think the most fear I was as a teenager was during my freshman year in college - I was 17 and this Speech prof was like 100, totally old school. I was super shy unless I was drinking (of course) and I was MORTIFIED every time I had to get up in front of the class to deliver a speech without notes or anything - we had to stand up there - no table, no podium and give a speech from memory... GAW!

The other two times I was most nervous probably where the day Kevin & I were married. Not for negative reasons but sort of for the same reason as above - LOTS of eyes on me and the ability to flub lines even if I am just repeating them back - no podium, no table just speaking back to my beloved (see a theme?!?!)

And getting induced. Something about knowing I will give birth at some point in the next 24 hours freaked me out. I would be a bad candidate for a scheduled c-section or another induction (is that how one would say that?!) I just need it to happen without any kind of scheduling... And you know I was just nervous about all that a baby brought - the whole birth experience, being a 1st time mommy, could I hack it all!?

I am sure there are 1,000 other nervous moments that were intense and horrible but those are tops for me!

Posted by: Christina at January 31, 2008 10:26 AM

I've got two answers:

1) When I went into labor at 28 weeks and the doctors told me that if they were born that day in the unlikely chance that either twin lived there was a 95% chance that the baby would suffer permant brain damage.


2) I had an appointment to have a lump in my breast examined. Guess what day my appointment was? September 11th 2001. My in-laws lived in the DC area and I found out they were okay, but I couldn't get a hold of Gabe to tell him that his parents were fine.

Posted by: Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah at January 31, 2008 10:38 AM

You are doing great. I agree with whoever said that you have the daddy equivalent of mommy brain.

The most nervous I ever was was waiting to hear the amniocentesis results when I was pregnant with Leah. I would talk to my belly, telling her that it was all going to be OK, but I was very worried. I needn't have been, everything was fine.

Posted by: alison at January 31, 2008 10:38 AM

I have been on job interviews many times in my life and I think I'm pretty good at them. But this one time? I REALLY WANTED THE JOB. I wanted it so much that I could taste it like honey in my mouth. I knew that I could do it, but I didn't have the experience. I was scared, and excited, and wishful, and all of the things that come with wanting something very badly and being afraid that it won't be given to you.

That interview was the most nervous I've ever been. I was so nervous, in fact, that I tripped and fell down the stairs as my interviewer and I walked through the facility. It's not easy to recover from making a fool of one's self, so I just started laughing and said, "Whoops!" He laughed too, and... I got the job.

You know that you are a great dad, and if you ever have doubts, listen to all of us who read you religiously. It's okay to trip and fall down the stairs every once in a while... It just goes to show how much your heart is in the "job."

Posted by: GreenCanary at January 31, 2008 10:54 AM

There are 2 moments close on the nervous meter that I really count as one: before my first law school final (80% of my grade - midterm was 20% for yearlong classes, semester classes had a 100% final) and before taking the bar exam. Another more recent moment was when my dad was having bypass surgery last June.

Posted by: Sue R at January 31, 2008 10:57 AM

Your nervousness reveals a wonderfully sensitive guy who is truly passionate about his family and role as a father! You are so awesome! Thanks for sharing your excitement and various other expressions!

Posted by: at January 31, 2008 11:06 AM

Most nervous was probably the days between putting in an offer and actually moving in to my first house. I believe I even puked in the trash can next to the table the I signed the final papers on.

Why? Well dear sir, because that is an ass ton of debt and OMG irrational panic!

I'm still in the same house. I still love it with great big flowery love and butterflies and ponies. The idea of going through that process again though can instantly give me the runs.

Posted by: SassyPants at January 31, 2008 11:15 AM

Relax. The nervousness is normal and so is being just a wee bit scatterbrained. You have a lot going on. Tell yourself it's easier the second time around.

I walked into the men's room at Barnes & Noble a few months ago and didn't even realize until I was on my way out and met someone coming in. Oops.

The most nervous? I got stupid and decided to come home from Mendocino (way north) to San Francisco by way of the coast highway. Terrible road. Ray said he felt like his butt was hanging out over the ocean and I think he was right. We survived but never again.

It's in a dead heat with my first flight (at age 42 I think) which I may have already described. I thought I was doing fine until realized I was walking carefully down the center of the aisle so as not to overbalance the 747. My boys have never let me live that one down.

Posted by: ann adams at January 31, 2008 11:24 AM

As life beginning brings nerves and jitters, life ending does the same.
The last week of my daughter's life were the most frazzling of my life. Surprisingly the moment she left me, was very peaceful.
You, my friend, may be frazzled now, but when they put "Wally" in your arms, it'll all melt away.
You and Beth will be wonderful!

Posted by: Maribeth at January 31, 2008 11:51 AM

The most nervous I've been was when I interviewed for the job I'm at. I'd been temping for 9 months and was finally up for a permanent position. I had to go through a 5-step interview process with 5 different managers, all of whom I knew personally and would completely mortified if they weren't impressed with what I had to say.
My in-laws were in town and would be around to hear the results (no pressure), plus Logic and I bought our condo 3 months prior. There was a lot riding on it. I was making myself literally sick over it. Not fun.

Posted by: Amaya at January 31, 2008 11:57 AM

Definately the first time I saw my boyfriend in person. We met through the internet and have been e-mailing/calling daily for nine months, but the first meeting was very nerve-wracking. It worked out though, and we just celebrated our fourth anniversary and our expecting our own little miracle this fall. So, the ends definately justified the means. Good luck to you, Beth, Mia, and your newest bundle of joy! Enjoy it.

Posted by: Tess at January 31, 2008 11:58 AM

This is nothing compare to impeding fatherhood but being told two weeks before going that I would be leaving the country on my very first business trip, having only left my state a handful of times and never been on a plane.

Posted by: rai at January 31, 2008 12:13 PM

You will be fine...you are an old pro at this.

Let's see, most nervous:
1. Morning of my brain surgery
2. Morning of my pacemaker insertion
3. Waiting to hear if I got into the PhD program
4. Telling my devout Catholic parents that I was getting a divorce after 9 months because he was a cheating SOB (obviously not from my loving, wonderful current husband). ;-)
5. Meeting D for the first time in person, like another poster we met online and had talked for a while, but never met.
Not necessarily in this order, but you get the idea.

Posted by: Krush at January 31, 2008 12:16 PM

Hmm. Yah, I'll vote right before surgeries. I don't care for that. But I'm guessing if I were about to give birth this would be my number one nervous time.

Hang in there, you can do this. And so can Beth.

Posted by: Poppy at January 31, 2008 12:54 PM

The most nervous I've ever been was before my first surgery. I was sure I would never wake up from the surgery, or would be a "vegetable" from some surgical mistake. I stressed out for days before the surgery, constantly reminding my husband that I was probably going to be a "vegetable". After the surgery, when I woke up in my hospital room, there on the bedside table, from my husband, were a dozen roses and a can of green beans!

Congrats on your new baby--may he or she make your heart sing.

Posted by: Confessions From The Sandwich Generation at January 31, 2008 1:34 PM

Oh, that's easy. The most nervous I've ever been was waiting for the results of the axial lymph node dissection when I had breast cancer 14 years ago.

Negative! I dropped to my knees (on a hardwood floor - ouch!) in thanksgiving.

Posted by: bhd at January 31, 2008 4:25 PM

Waiting to see how bad the injuries were after my MIL's car ran over my almost-two year old son. I was a basket case.

Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen at January 31, 2008 7:42 PM

I think the births of my kids were probably my most stressful times, too. If you weren't nervous, I'd think you were lying or maybe not quite normal.

You and Beth will be great.

Posted by: julie at January 31, 2008 8:56 PM

you will do fine, chris. look how well you did with the prototype. she turned out to be a little angel :) #2 can't be much more difficult...can it?

Posted by: tiffanie at January 31, 2008 9:05 PM

Both times I have moved across the province to live in a new town with no job lined up and not knowing anybody, they were pretty scary but exciting times.

Posted by: Adi at January 31, 2008 9:08 PM

Um, having kid two. Definitely the most nervous time. Luckily, the second he was born, it was totally alright.

Posted by: Mr Lady at January 31, 2008 10:04 PM

I have no nerve-y tales... but I wish you all my nerve-ending energy.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 1, 2008 1:05 AM

When I was ten I once walked into a supermarket and realised after some seconds that people were staring at me and laughing. Only then I realised that I had taken my bike into the supermarket with me.

Even for the Netherlands, that is weird.

As for the kid, you'll be fine, just go with the flow and trust your instincts.

Posted by: mikkie at February 1, 2008 6:33 AM