Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Making Babies

Back in June my wife told me she was pregnant. She didn't really "tell" me in the traditional sense. She told me to close my eyes and then proceeded to place two positive pregnancy tests in front of me as well as a book cleverly titled My Boys Can Swim. We had not been planning for this. In fact, we had recently had a long and decisive discussion in which we determined that we would wait a year before trying to have kids. I needed to finish graduate school and she wanted to take a trip to Africa next summer. Two weeks later, I'm being told by some book that my boys can swim.

Even though it wasn't in the plans, I was instantly excited. I never felt even a second of that "holy crap" sensation that I hear about from accidental parents. I'm not saying I wasn't surprised. "Wow" was pretty much the only word I could come up with for a few minutes. But my surprise was always a positive thing.

Since then, we have been going through the odd and unfamiliar process of preparing for the birth of our first child. We have a doctor, a hospital, and a due date (February 19). We do not have a crib, a car seat, or any clue at all as to how to raise a child. We're working on that. I'm going to be doing a lot of reading in the near future. That's how I prepare myself for anything: I read. I basically see the whole world as a classroom, and I need to be ready for the next big exam. Before I write a sermon, I read books on whatever subject I am working on. Before I got married I read a handful of books about marriage and sex and relationships. If I were to take a job on the bomb squad, I'd have to go straight to Barnes and Noble and peruse the section on disarming deadly materials. I'd probably also have to watch The Hurt Locker again. So, the smart money at this point would be to bet on the probability that I'm going to stock my library with books that feature subjects such as child psychology, parent/child relational dynamics, and cautionary tales about good parents who unknowingly raised serial killers.

So here we are, five months into the pregnancy, and we've just been told that we're having a boy. I don't really know why, but Caroline and I were both expecting it to be a girl. I had no logical reason to believe this. In fact, if my family history tells me anything at all, it's that I am genetically incapable of fathering a girl. My dad's been fathering babies for thirty years, and he has yet to sire anything lacking the Y chromosome.

So, now comes the difficult process of choosing a name. All of my suggestions have been quickly vetoed: Bob, Jack, Joe (I like old man names for babies; I think it's hilarious). I halfheartedly lobbied for the name Bruce. I feel like the name is double-awesome because it is not only the name of legendary musician Bruce Springsteen, but it is also the name of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman. We could name the kid Bruce Wayne Carmack. He'd basically be named Batman. What kid doesn't want to be Batman? When my cousin Justin and I were kids, we used to play Batman and Robin. Because he was older and my name was already "Rob," our roles were set in stone. He was Batman, and I was Robin. He was always the Caped Crusader while I was nothing more than the Boy Wonder. If you name a kid Bruce Wayne, he will always get to be Batman in these types of games. Even if he's playing house with his girl cousins or something, he could always pretend like "house" was only a part of his secret identity and, when the tea set comes out, the imaginary Bat Signal could appear in the sky, and my son would have the perfect exit strategy. "I'm sorry, ladies," he would say with a pensive and decisive look on his face. "I have to go. No time to explain." Also, in my little fantasy world, he would spend at least a little time playing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I could even play with him. I'd be Clarence Clemons. Maybe his mom would even be willing to play, too. She could be Patty Scialfa. This is probably not a realistic scenario.

Anyway, it's all very exciting. We have a lot of learning to do and a lot of preparations to make, but I can't wait to meet this kid.