Second Trimester Thoughts

The second trimester started yesterday, and this whole baby thing is feeling more real. S’s uterus is a small hard bit poking out from her pubic bone. The fetus is now the size of a softball and covered in lanugo, soft hairs that will help the skin cells adhere, but that make the baby look a little hobbit-esque in pictures. We’re talking more about names, and this morning measured out furniture that will need to be moved to make room for the crib. We’re excited about buying books for the baby, and have started a mental wish list of things we want. Sometimes, walking around, I’m struck with something that I’ll want to share with my child when she/he is born, or a place that I look forward to visiting with him/her. It’s normally a heady, happy feeling.

But the flip side of excitement is anxiety. Yesterday we went to a friend’s baby shower, and I found myself full of worry. Not because I felt unprepared for having a baby – ok, so maybe a little when I saw all the products that I would have to become familiar with (the baby sling, the crib, the stretch mark cream) – but mostly from being in a room full of professional people my age, all well educated and with careers. Here I am, the MFA student, working on a novel, whose plan for the future is fulltime daddying, hanging out with committed and accomplished educators and people who hold down “real” (aka “paying”) jobs. Looking around the room, I started feeling guilty for defying the cultural expectation that a man has to be the financial provider while the woman is the nurturing caregiver. I know it’s a stereotype, and one that I abhor, but it’s apparently made its way into my subconscious.

While I ate cupcakes and oohed and ahhed at my friend’s presents, I kept going over in my mind the reasons why it makes sense for me to be the fulltime parent, trying to convince myself that it’s ok – an anxiety so deep that I feel the need to run through it here in order to keep convincing myself. Two years ago I dropped off the career track and went back to school, pursuing a dream of becoming a better writer. I make pocket money tutoring, but school keeps me too busy to find a jobby job before graduation. And ok, sure, a big part of me doesn’t want to go back to work anyway. I like doing what I want to do, being my own boss. (If only it paid better.) So we’re dependent on S going back to work after maternity leave to keep us insured. Even if I wanted to go back to my former profession of teaching, the two of us together wouldn’t make enough to hire a nanny. Besides that, both of us were raised with a fulltime parent during our early years, and it’s something that we value. One of us will have to stay home, and since I’m already the one who’s home most of the day writing, I’m the obvious choice.

Theoretically I’ll be able to write during the day while baby’s napping, though how much I’ll actually get done remains to be seen. And what am I writing for anyway? I just read a Malcolm Gladwell article about how the average person needs to spend ten thousand hours in an area before achieving mastery. He profiled a writer who quit his job, raised his kids, and struggled away writing fiction at the kitchen table for years and years before a single word was published. Writing is a leap of faith, and sometimes mine dries up.

But after running through all of these worries, I end up back where I started. I’m excited to have a partner who supports my goals and wants me to have a full, active role in raising our child. I look forward to having an experience that, traditionally, men have locked themselves out of. My baby’s going to have a daddy who goes against the grain and pursues ideals and also, sometimes, has to tackle his doubts. And my baby will have a warm, loving mother, who balances her career with being a parent. This will be a strong, unique individual.


1 Response to “Second Trimester Thoughts”

  1. 1 Aimee November 23, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    10,000 hours?! I’m screwed.

    Another Obie friend of mine is in med school w/three girls and her husband is the stay at home dad. You won’t be alone!

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