Home ≠ Home

November 19, 2009

This past weekend, Julee and I got the opportunity to celebrate with our families in person for the first time.  It’s pretty amazing how a pregnancy can bring everyone together.  I am so excited for Julee’s parents, who will be grandparents for the first time, and for my parents, who will be having a new grandbaby.  I’ve written a lot on here about how the fact that I know I’m about to be a dad has changed me already, and I was struck again by it this weekend.  As we were saying our goodbyes to our parents and getting ready to board the plane back to Chicago, a strong sense of sadness came over both Julee and myself.  Ordinarily, I am one who has felt fairly comfortable living away from family for the past three and a half years, but this time it was different.  I was sad to leave my folks.  I was sad to leave the mountains.  I was sad to leave sweet tea, college football, and southern accents.  I was sad to leave all the things that made home home.

It’s always been said that a parent will tolerate harm to themselves far more than they will tolerate harm done to their children.  I believe that to be true.  I believe that opposite to be true as well — that a parent will strive to do good for their children far more than they will for themselves.  I think that’s a big reason why I want so much to be back near our families, because I know how good it will be for our child, and how good it was for both Julee and myself to have our grandparents nearby when we grew up.

It was a turbulent plane flight back, which is quite ironic.  The plane stumbled through the rainclouds, as if it was being forced against its will.  After one of the better weekends we’ve had in awhile, it follows to think that its end will come with sadness.  Leaving home to go home is such an odd feeling, because right now home can mean two different places.  I’m excited for where God will lead us next, and hope that He leads us where the weather is warmer and the tea is sweeter.

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Beautifully unbeautiful

November 10, 2009

Now in the middle of my 9th week of pregnancy, I feel I have the authority to say that there are so many things about being pregnant that are just unbeautiful.  I won’t go into detail about all the exaggerated bodily functions that happen during pregnancy, but that is a big part of the unbeautiful-ness.  I know, too, that there is much to come in the unbeautiful category.

However, despite all of this unbeauty, I can honestly say I have never felt more beautiful.  There is something about carrying a life inside of me that makes me feel so beautiful.  Although physically, I don’t feel all that great, emotionally and spiritually I feel so amazing.  I just love how God is using me (and Jason, of course) to bring a new life into this world.  And to me, that is the most beautiful thing.  There may be plenty of things about pregnancy that are unbeautiful, but they are beautifully unbeautiful.

Such a stud.

November 9, 2009

There is no more masculine a feeling than to create life.  I could eat glass while walking barefoot on hot coals on my way to a barfight and couldn’t feel more manly than I do in anticipation of being a dad.  Which is interesting, because so much of what is popularly associated with manhood is that of destruction and dominance.  Breaking things.  Shooting people.  Fearlessly facing death.  Withstanding pain unfazed.  This is what so many people find both exciting and terrifying about masculinity.  There’s potential for heroism, but also potential for destruction.  But it’s so rare for masculinity to be associated with creativity, which is why I’m surprised that I feel like such a stud right now.  And I do feel like a complete and utter stud.  I’m probably going to need to invest in a helmet of some kind in the event my overconfidence leads me to attempt something risky, like flying, pole vaulting, or yoga.  I made a person, for crying out loud!

Maybe we need to rethink manhood.  I’m not so sure that the beer-drinkin’, bar-fightin’, six-shootin’, womanizin’, fearless, unflappable man captures the entire studly picture.  Because when you’re unaffected by pain, you’re also unaffected by beauty, and you begin to wither inside.  I know that in creating a life, I’m affected by a beauty that I never have experienced before.

This is not to say that the destructive aspect of masculinity is wrong, just incomplete.  Our society tries to castrate that aspect of men because of its danger, but it prevents men from being heroic.  This is also not to say that having a child completes the equation either.  It is to say, though, that creation as well as destruction are both important parts of what it means to be a man.  And I’ll be helmet shopping soon.

-Jason

To be about to be a dad.

November 5, 2009

So, it finally comes.  With the knowledge that my parents waited through sixteen years of frustration and disappointment before I came around, it should not be surprising that I would have to wait at least a year to have our first little one.  I have a brother sixteen years older than me, which means that I received a big “T” on my infant report card (for those among the unaware, “T” stands for “tardy”).  I’ve been running late for stuff ever since.

Having a plus sign show up on that little stick is one of the most surreal and relieving experiences of my life.  It had been over a year since we’d been trying, and while that’s not nearly as long as some people have to wait (see above), it was particularly unnerving and a pressure-packed time filled with questions and doubts.  Will we ever have children?  Can my boys swim?  Is Julee’s lady-business out of business?  After seeing that plus sign, the overwhelming feeling was relief, like finishing a marathon (as if I know what that’s like) or graduating.  I’ll celebrate later, but right now I can rest.  I knelt down and hugged Julee’s midsection–my sex ed classes taught me that’s where the baby is–and just rested for a moment.

While my overwhelming feeling was that of finishing something, in reality, I was and am starting something, and something big.  I’m about to be a dad.  This is huge.  And awesome.  And kind of scary.  Until the visit to the doctor, though, it was still surreal, still kind of an idea.  Still a plus sign.  We went to the doctor for what I expected to be a strange experience — watching a male doctor stick things inside my wife.  It was surprisingly impersonal, like watching someone change the oil in a Jeep.  This fabulously mustached doc gave me one of the coolest experiences in my life, the ultrasound.  I got to see my child for the first time.  There’s a head, two arms, and two legs — all good news!

(ADD Moment:  The reason that this is all good news is that when a guy with an imagination like mine is confronted with the typical and expected fears that go along with a pregnancy, some crazy ideas come to mind:  “Mr. Dunn, here is your son.  Unfortunately, he was born with the head of a weasel.” “Mr. Dunn, we regret to inform you that your daughter will only be able to communicate with you through poorly attempted Sean Connery impersonations.”)

I’m not sure how to recover from all the weasel-head talk.  Seeing and hearing the heartbeat, though, was the best.  171 BPM (!!!!!).  That’s fast, ya’ll.  Like a proud papa, I’m carrying around a picture of my little one (and when I say “little one,” I mean it.  3/4 inch long, to be exact) in my wallet and showing it to friends and strangers alike.  I’m beside myself with excitement, finding myself talking to Julee’s midsection, and sometimes listening to it, imagining what I might hear.  (I’d be freaked out if I heard, “You’re the man now, dog!”)

So far I’ve learned how much we really depend on gender to identify someone.  Every time I talk about the baby, I waffle between “he,” “she,” and a very impersonal “it.”  Gender inclusive language should not apply to those in utero.  I’ve also learned that being the one who regularly washes dishes is not so bad.  I’ve also learned how much fun it’s been to share my happiness with friends and family, yet trying to be sensitive to those who want to have children but haven’t yet, since I know a little about what it’s like to feel what they feel.

But right now, I love what it’s like to be about to be a dad.

-Jason

A dream come true!

November 4, 2009

Julee’s perspective:

“There’s a real baby in there!”  That’s what I said to Jason after seeing the ultrasound and hearing the little one’s heartbeat (171 BPM…that baby’s working hard!).  It was the most amazing moment of my life thus far.  I know I’ll be saying that about a lot of moments over the next 8 months.  It was such a joy to see the little one (and I mean little!) growing inside me.  I’m still not sure it’s really sunk in yet.  But seeing and hearing our baby, did help to make it a little more concrete, rather than just an idea.

As you’ll read in Jason’s post, it took a little while to actually get pregnant.  Without going into much detail, my body wasn’t working like it was supposed to for about a year.  It brought up so many questions and doubts.  It even brought up some stress between Jason and me.  After about a year of trying, we decided to take a break.  We went back to intentionally preventing it.  This was a difficult decision, but we felt that God was using my body to tell us it wasn’t time yet.  And as painful and frustrating as that was, we know that God knows what He’s doing.

In June, we felt it was time to try again…with the fear that maybe my body still wouldn’t work properly.  But also knowing that God is in control, and if He thought it was good timing, then He would make it happen.  So, again, without too much detail, everything work properly, and 3 months later….we’re PREGNANT!

As a woman, this has been the thing I wanted most in my life (after getting married).  I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember.  This is the most amazing and surreal experiences of my entire life, so far.  And I cannot believe that God would think so much of Jason and me to bless us with this.