Baby’s on the Way. Now What?

“We’re pregnant!” It’s an emotionally charged phrase, isn’t it? It’s also a time for decisions about your life ahead.

We were married five months. They had not been the greatest five months. In fact, we seemed to argue a lot and both of us wondered if we’d made the right decision to marry at the young age of 22.

I was a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo and she moved from Ottawa to join me after the wedding. In a way, we were a traditional couple. We did not live with each other prior to getting hitched. We just knew we were deeply in love and we trusted in that.

Our transition as a married couple was difficult. Every day, I drove to the lab to do my research. For some reason that I cannot remember, she was at home without transportation. She did not know anyone in Waterloo. I was surprised when I’d get an earful about her needing me to go home. I couldn’t stay late at the lab like I always had.

For five months, we argued. Slowly, and maybe not fast enough, the idea dawned on me that the situation had changed and that she was right. I had been a self-centered dough-head. I needed to start thinking of us as a couple.

Then she became pregnant. And I started to hyperventilate. I’m a scientist – I know how these things happen – facts, figures, and timelines. But this had nothing to do with numbers, except maybe nine months or eight pounds, four ounces. A baby was on the way and I was in a tailspin.

Our plan had been to have kids – but not until I was finished grad school, which was two years away. How could we afford a kid on a grad student’s income? Wasn’t I too young for this? Was this a bad idea to have kids now?

I approached her with a difficult question. Did she want the child or was abortion an option? It was a tipping-point decision that would affect the rest of our lives. We were just starting to get the hang of talking things through. It was a talk that challenged our values. No, we decided. Abortion was not an option. We were going to be parents, just a little earlier than planned. We trusted that all would work out in the end.

With that decision made, I knew other children would follow in intervals of about two and a half years. Before we married, we’d already resolved to have more than one child and to have only one kid in diapers at any one time.

Although I was scared and anxious and overwhelmed by this new prospect, I grew determined. I had to get my ass in gear, finish my degree and get a job to support my family. I had to do that because … I was a dad.

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