Thought Catalog

How To Have A Baby

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1.

Notice your partner has missed her period by at least two weeks. Ignore it. Consider that she’s “been late” before, but then fail to deflect a series of blood-pressure-increasing thoughts that you’re not ready for a kid, that you can’t “see yourself” with one, both in the clichéd sense and also literally – you cannot visualize a son or daughter – not that you can’t imagine “being a dad” –  you can actually, although more in terms of doing things, teaching your kid to surf maybe, something at least a decade removed – but then again, now is when partner is in her physical prime, a kind of “ripeness” (which, thinking about it now, you remember her asking the day before if her breasts seemed bigger, which, strangely, they did), and suddenly you’re 99% certain she’s pregnant.

2.

Talk to her. Ask about a pregnancy test. Go to CVS. Spend several minutes in sort of disbelief at the selection of contraceptive / female hygiene / home pregnancy test products. Fail to deflect incoming thoughts of a “guy-going-to-get-a-pregnancy-test-for-his-wife” movie scene. Select a CVS brand test kit (“99.5% accurate”) on sale for $2 less than other brands. Complete the purchase with a young Latina clerk in Spanish. Walk home feeling that the test-kit purchase was strangely In The Flow.

3.

Go home. Unfold / read instructions out loud with partner. Laugh at the phrases “urine stream” and “test wand.” Wait for her to come out of the bathroom, then examine the wand with a focus-level so intense you feel, ironically, detached from the event. Note the rapidity / absoluteness of the indicator showing positive, registering this as an In The Flow sign of fertility, health, and, for the first time, the health of your future child. Remark “positivisimo,” a sudden bilingual invention that you’re not sure is a word, but which seems to precisely juxtapose your sense of “I knew it” with spontaneous Stoke-levels / sense of In The Flow, and also “holy fuck.”

4. [1-10 minutes later]

Remember that your weak-ass health insurance doesn’t “cover” maternity care / pregnancy. Contemplate facts that (a) partner has never been to a doctor in the US, (b) her lifelong support network all exists 6,500 miles away in Argentina, (c) you only have about  $2,000 in your checking account, and (d) 10 minutes post test-kit reading Stoke, partner has now become hysterically emotional, screaming phrases you could translate as “happy moment” and “calling my doctor” and “sharing the news” all linked together with complex verb tenses designating that this isn’t what will happen or is happening, but which should’ve been happening. Do several rapid and blood-pressure-increasing internet searches for local doctors / “emergency pregnancy insurance” / “cost of pregnancy out of pocket.” Learn that “standard” prenatal care + delivery in a US hospital will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 “without complications.” Shift your eyes from the word “complications” back to partner.

5. [Next day]

Attempt to go to local “indigent care” clinic. Note the line at the door, the physical conditions of the people (mostly elderly) in line. Check partner (staring through the windshield). Go back home.

6. [Next day]

Go to Planned Parenthood. Walk in holding hands. Note nurses, receptionists, and patients are all young women and that the environment itself emits a powerful Pre-Language “female energy” that seems to be causing minor ball tingling /  retraction into upper scrotal area. Attempt to follow partner and young white nurse to the examination room before being directed to stay in the waiting room. Study posters about STDs and “Your Choice.” Engage in mental projections of coastal terrain / surfable wave conditions that crossfade with incoming thoughts / images of “tribal-like” pregnant women sitting around a fire. Stand up when partner and young nurse reenter waiting room.  Zoom in on partner’s face. Perceive increased levels of comfort / familiarity between her and young nurse via body language / facial expressions. Experience a sudden juxtaposition of envy / anxiety / relief (also with In The Flow elements) re: the time that was just spent apart. Receive nurse’s confirmation of pregnancy with an affirmative nod that, while spontaneous, feels like acting to some degree. Consider how interactions with medical personnel always induce a hyper-attentive / “studious” behavior. Listen to partner say “the baby’s 4 weeks old, tan chiquito,” in a way that contains Pre-Language elements you’ve never heard from her or felt before. Note how attempts to contextualize  / “process” the words “tan chiquito” and corresponding emotion(s) displace the medical-environment-induced hyper-attentiveness so that you’re only minimally registering the nurse reviewing information that includes the words / phrases “in 8 weeks,” “heartbeat,” and “vitamins.”

7. [A week later]

Follow the Planned Parenthood nurse’s recommendation to go to a different public healthcare facility. Observe multiple languages spoken in waiting room, several of which you can’t recognize. Note the only other white people present are obese women whose appearance / body language / breathing patterns seem to signal poor health. Squeeze your partner’s hand. Receive paperwork. Fill out paperwork. Process paperwork with a young female attendant in a cubicle. Attempt to control medical facility / paperwork-induced anxiety with surreptitious breathing exercises. Nod as attendant tabulates your income, then places you “one up” from “indigent care,” a plan which will “cover all visits and delivery for about $800.” Smile at this with a sense of “God Bless America.” Note sudden twitch in attendant’s face however as she says to partner: “oh wait, one thing, are you a US citizen?” Process corresponding information – that if you were “one down” from this plan, it wouldn’t matter, but that because you make slightly above indigent-level your partner has to be a citizen (not just legal resident) to qualify, registering attendant’s nod / response that “I’m sorry, it doesn’t make sense to me either” with a sense of “God Damn America.” Collect documents. Leave rapidly with partner crying.

8.

Spend several days fighting with partner. Perform daily tasks at work with increased isolation-levels. Decrease communication with family / friends.

9. [Several days later]

Discover that partner can begin a health insurance plan in Argentina that covers pregnancy even though she’s already pregnant. Discuss options again. Reduce everything to the facts that (a) it will cost less to travel back to Argentina and have the baby there than to “deal with this bullshit here,” and (b) it seems more In The Flow for partner to have the baby in her home culture / language. Formulate a plan based on traveling back a few months before due date, and in the meantime paying “out of pocket” for a “real” OBGYN.

10.

Begin notifying IRL friends about pregnancy status. Notify parents via phone (“Y’all ready to be grandparents?”), experiencing super complex levels of Pre-Language tenderness towards them which seem paradoxically increased by “presenting” the pregnancy in a different manner (suggesting “things are under control”) than you did with your friends. Receive your dad’s wishes to assist financially  (“anything we can do to help. . .”) with feelings of relief / gratitude mixed with a not fully definable sadness that all of this is transpiring via phone.

11. [3 weeks later]

Choose OBGYN via internet based on sex (F), nonthreatening appearance in profile pic, and credentials. Go to first appointment at local community hospital. Note spaciousness and sterile-seeming condition of facility. Fill out forms, asking about discount for “prompt-pay.” Sign documents. Accompany partner in examination room. Meet OBGYN. Listen to baby’s heartbeat. Fail to match partner’s physical / emotional connection to the moment — justifying that the heartbeat is coming from within her body – and that you’re distanced from it, that even as you hear it you register it as an abstraction (thinking something like “160 bpm, damn, drum and bass” ), which later you’ll recognize as the beginning of a preemptive defense mechanism against the possibility of “things not turning out ok.”

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    • ermie

      beautiful.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke.

    • Briana

      Good god, this is amazing.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks briana.

    • Riley

      This is beautiful.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke.

    • http://stephgeorge.tumblr.com Stephanie Georgopulos

      i really like this, i enjoy the spanglish, feels like having a baby is sort of fun. love the ending. good job.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks stephanie.

        stoke.

    • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew F.

      Warm fuzzies.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        warm stoke.

    • Scytle

      this is wonderful. Congratulations.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke.

        thanks scytle.

    • Reid

      This article was great and made me feel really emotional. I got a little teary near the end. It made me wish I was dating someone I love. It made me wish I wasn't medically unable to have children.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks reid.

        you make me want to write more about this.

        part of what i was trying to convey here was that, at least for me, i couldn't connect to baby during pregnancy. that it felt abstract, unreal.

        it wasn't until i saw her face that there was connection, recognition.

        but that said, it wasn't until i began to care for her that i felt love for her.

        i think i might try write about this. seems important.

        you don't just 'love the baby', necessarily.

        your instinct as a human is (hopefully) to protect, to care for.

        but the love comes (or at least it did for me) 'out of' that care.

        it builds over time just like any other relationship.

        what i'm trying to express here is that i don't believe love / connection is predicated on biology.

        'being a father' (for me) is about taking care of someone.

        • Tim Patterson

          that comment seems almost as powerful as the whole essay above. keep it up, DM.

        • Reid

          Thank you for this response. Seems like this attitude might be worth a shot.

    • Gurmat

      Brilliant.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke.

    • Will

      Thank you for this. Truly amazing. Mazel tov!

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks for the mazel, will.

        stoke.

    • Evan

      This is like founding out that your sports team won last night – but a lot better. What name did you and she choose?

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks evan, stoked.

        our daughter's name is 'layla' – only not pronounced like eric clapton song. we use spanish pronunciation, it's like 'lie-lah.'

    • Robin

      So beautiful. Tearing up over here.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks robin.

        stoke.

    • Catt

      I came thisclose to crying at the end. Thank you.

      • http://twitter.com/LulabelleNiche Gabrielle Bodek

        I was tearing up too. A beautiful account through a man's perspective. I really appreciated this!

        • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

          thanks gabrielle.

          stoke.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks catt, stoke. i think i cried just a little bit as i was writing last part.

    • Lindsay

      Your ending gave me chills & near tears. Congrats.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks lindsay, stoke.

    • Naya

      Getting a little teary in a packed public library. Lovely.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoked you were feeling this naya, thank you.

    • Heather Carreiro

      David, thanks for sharing this. Gabriel's sleeping and I feel like I have a million things to do before he gets up to nurse again, but once I started reading I couldn't stop until the last word. I love how the style and format evokes the evolution of your thoughts throughout the pregnancy and delivery. I love how it comes across as so real and honest, and how it allows women readers to see a male perspective. The whole piece had a really nice flow to it.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks heather. really appreciate your comments on this.

        stoke.

    • Hal Amen

      damn dm, got me too, even though i'd read bits of it before. beautiful, all of it.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        appreciate it hal. stoked for you to read.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

      Incredible. Like loads of the other commenters I teared up at the end. Beautifully written. Well done.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks tom.

        stoke.

    • http://profiles.google.com/hokkaidotim Tim Patterson

      Beautiful. I remember seeing Layla for the first time as a newborn in San Telmo.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke tim.

        remember your visit so clearly.

        am kind of temporarily reliving the buenos aires rooftops flow right now.

        miss you mano.

    • Humblecore

      Lovely.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke.

    • http://vagabonderz.com Carlo Alcos

      Yeah mon. The “matrix-like” bit had heavy imagery. And I really loved the scene with you holding her hand, feeling like “little kids.”

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks carlo, stoke.

        the matrix scene is reconstructed from visiting the hospital for my brother's birth. one of my earliest memories.

        from the little bit i've researched, i've found that babies born in 70s and 80s in the US had like 90% circumcision rates and it was like the peak of 'industrial births' – with caesarians / major intervention going up dramatically from previous times.

        since then it's become more common for births to take place at 'birthing centers' that may be part of a medical complex, but detached from the hospital, and, in general, awareness is growing about the importance for lactation and other health benefits for mothers / newborns not to be separated during the hours immediately following birth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Melissa-Brandt/100002009377115 Melissa Brandt

      so so beautiful

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks melissa. really appreciate it.

    • anna

      you have me crying alone on my bed before my workout. sending to husband. love picturing this for you, hope to someday soon love it for knowing our own.
      xoxo
      anna

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks so much anna.

        stokefest.

    • mutterrrr

      So beautiful, reminded me of She's Having a Baby minus Kevin Bacon in a cut-off sweatshirt.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks.

        kevin bacon stoke.

    • ZaneEatsWorld

      stoke?

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        stoke? stoke

    • Candice walsh

      This might be the first time I've ever read a birthing story from the father's perspective. I'm a little emotional and blubbering into my tea right now.

      • http://twitter.com/dahveed_miller david miller

        thanks candice. wasn't expecting all of the crying. thought ppl might get alienated by this piece actually.

        it feels good to get all the buena onda.

      • kharlamovaa

        I totally agree… this is the first time I've heard birthing from a father's perspective as well, but it's mor e or less what I imagined it would be. It's beautifully written, and I can only hope my SO will be as crazy/supportive/crazy-supportive as you when the time comes for us to have kids.

        • http://miller-david.com david miller

          thanks km.

          i'm not sure to what degree i really supported my partner actually.

          at least not until the labor began.

          seems like for most of the pregnancy i was just confused / anxious / impatient.

          [and still am.]

          i think, if anything, there were just these little moments where all of that fell away.

          where i got out of the way maybe.

        • kharlamovaa

          hence the “crazy.” even then, i can't imagine having to be there for someone and not be able to feel what they're feeling. it's the worst sort of expectation, when you can't FEEL any buildup, you just know you're supposed to, which obviously makes you confused. in any case, i'm glad that you saw clearer when you got out of the way – otherwise i'm sure this piece wouldn't have been as special.

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