With each day that goes by, it feels like we are heading straight towards the next chapter of our lives together. Darcy and I have officially started transforming one of the rooms in our home into a nursey (catch my DIY projects on Instagram). My clothes are getting moved out of the closet this week, placed onto portable clothing racks and our son’s ever-growing mountain of stuff is starting to move in. We have a feeling of nervous excitement around the house – or at least that’s how I feel! It’s almost like every night is the night before Christmas.
The path to fatherhood has been one that I have been looking forward to for as long as I can remember. Ever since my dad started talking about stories from his childhood and showing how important fatherhood has meant to him, I’ve wanted to be a dad. A couple years ago, I started doing for our family what his dad used to do for him and his family: buy a box of doughnuts and pastries from a local bakery on Sunday mornings – of course in this case it turns out that I am the only one who ends up eating the doughnuts these days.
I’m already looking forward to the first sleepless night after we get home from the hospital, the first Rangers game in a couple of years and the first time our son gets to meet Sydney’s daughter, my parents, Darcy’s parents, and our friends. It feels like a little movie that plays out in my head each time I think about a handful of firsts. Those thoughts have also started to bring a lot so many moments of nostalgia – to my first Rangers game, the first time I played hockey, the first time Sydney pushed me off a bed and I landed on the ground with a bloody nose.
In truth, I’ve also seen changes in myself over the last 6 months. I enjoy mowing the lawn. That somehow feels like a rite of passage, or maybe it’s just an excuse to get out of the house filled with barking dogs for an hour.
There are also some fears that trace themselves back to CF and need to be addressed, or at least thought through, before bringing a child into the world.
What about passing down the gene? That never really gave me a sense of fear or dread because I’ve seen with my own eyes how the protein that traces its roots back to the gene is well on its way to getting corrected. In some ways, my greater fear is adequately articulating to our son what CF was once like because in the world he grows up in, CF is not going to be anything like the one I grew up with. How will we be able to talk to him about Lea?
I know we all like to say CF doesn’t define us, but in truth how could it not? It shapes our worldview on a macro level and pushes us to take it on each day with every micro challenge that befalls us. Though I’m hopeful CF will have an ever-decreasing impact on my worldview moving forward, while the little man in our lives will have an ever-increasing impact!
The other elephant in the room, of course, is the prospect that CF will be life shortening. Is that fair to my growing family? It is something that Darcy and I have talked about – it’s something we’ve had to talk about. The conclusions we draw continue to evolve – but my takeaway is that our impact on each other has been so enormous that we’re comfortable with the risk. We all come to go, and on very different timelines at that. We all do what little we can to extend it, and that’s really all we can do.
In some ways, my greatest fears – which is true of my life at large, and not specific to our growing family – are the tactical changes that my CF care will require. Big lifetime changes always get me a little on edge because I can trace certain failures back to when I encountered them in college. Talk about past life experiences shaping future ones. I worry about getting treatments in, my Vest keeping the baby up past nap time, and how I will balance what has always been my most pressing priority (my health) with that of my new single highest priority (our son!). Looking to all CF dads out there for advice on these points (please… let me know!).
There is no doubt, though, that the excitement outweighs any nervousness or subtle underlying fears associated with the coming changes to my life. Fatherhood has always been the goal. It was the goal my parents set when I was diagnosed. It was the goal I set when I realized I was getting sicker. It was the goal Darcy and I set when we both realized things were getting serious (I hope this sentence isn’t news to her when she reads it!).
Now that this goal feels more achievable by the day, I’m starting to realize that I’m going to have to do what I always said I wanted: reinvent myself to become the best possible person I can be. That opportunity feels like a second chance with life – really a chance to move further and further away from the hardest days in my early twenties when it sometimes felt like all of this would be out of reach. It will be a chance to live our future together.