1. I’m going to be a dad! Add exclamation points as necessary to denote the proper amount of enthusiasm. Finding out you’re going to be a parent is immediately exciting. Your chest swells with pride. You get a weird, heady buzz. Eventually … maybe it’s minutes or hours or days … that euphoria gives way to blinding panic and harsh reality. And then the euphoria comes back. And then the panic pops up again, and then it’s a weird mix of both, forever. Becoming a parent is agreeing to live in a constant state of happiness and anxiety.
2. I am now and forever responsible for another human being. This is incredibly sobering. This isn’t babysitting or watching your sister’s kid overnight. No one shows up to take away the baby in the morning. And you don’t just have to watch it and make sure it doesn’t die. That’d be pretty easy. You have to shape this tiny human and hope that you don’t front-load it with all the weird problems and prejudices and goals you’ve picked up along the way.
3. This will be an incredible journey. It’s hard not to start reflecting on what life will be like moving forward. You start daydreaming about playing catch or teaching them how to ride a bike. And then you remember that newborns can’t even lift their head and their skulls are so soft they’re actually malleable. And then you ask your wife how long it will be until the baby can actually hang out and do cool stuff, and she gets mad.
4. OK, well, there goes having fun, maybe. A lot of parents will stare at you with dead eyes and tell you this will be really hard, not to mention physically and emotionally draining. And you won’t believe them because, like, come on. And you’ll constantly think of ways to make sure you don’t lose out on seeing your friends or having hobbies, and you’ll be very confident that they will work. Only time will tell, though.
5. Am I going to turn into one of those parents who’s obsessed with their kid? This is a very real fear. So many parents have a kid pop out, and the second the sight of that little goop-covered raisin face floods their brains with dopamine, they’re just gone. It’s like a parasite took over. They’re posting pictures of the kid doing literally nothing interesting or constantly filling you in on the kid’s life instead of their own. And you wonder, What broke them?
6. How do I tell everyone? There’s no real etiquette when it comes to revealing a pregnancy. Should you tell everyone individually? Do people really care? Should you just take a photo at Sears and jack up the brightness and throw a lens flair in and post it to Facebook with some hastily made text thrown over it? What is the right path to take?
7. Is this what my parents were like? You realize how old your parents were when they had you, and maybe even what their mind-set was like. And you can’t believe they ever decided to have you.
8. WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THE BABY? You start to get really worried and invested, even if you haven’t even felt him kick yet.
9. What if my baby is shitty? Personally, I’m OK if my kid turns out to be nerdy or goofy or a loner. But what if I wind up with a real piece of shit? What do I even do?
10. I wonder which time we had sex actually made the baby? You start counting back to figure out if the time you conceived was the time you made love for hours under the covers, or if it was the time you hastily banged one out right before you met your friends for brunch. Then you realize you’d be having a totally different kid if you hadn’t rubbed one out in the shower that morning.
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