It was a few nights before Christmas. I was working when I got a text from my girlfriend.
I have an early Christmas gift for you!
I sighed with a smile as I wrote back, begging for her to wait till Christmas.
Nope, you’re getting it tonight, she replied.
Alyssa has always loved giving myself and the people closest to her random gifts, though, so I didn’t think much of it. She knows my favorite drinks and snacks and she’s constantly paying attention to little things I say I like or I need at the store (I’ve recently started putting a zipper over my lips every time we hit Target). She’s a giver, and there isn’t another like her. I swear she’s the one person in the world who loves other people’s birthdays more than her own.
That night, I had gotten home before her. I was in the bedroom making a list of people I still needed to get Christmas presents for when she poked her pretty little head through the door with the cheesiest grin I’d ever seen. In her hands was a box—a girly cylindrical box you might put some flower-spotted nightgowns in to give to your mother for Mother’s Day. It was the gift she’d texted me about earlier. In all honesty, I’d almost forgotten. My head was busier than New York City as I tried to make sure Santa thoroughly did his job without completely breaking the bank. This was our first Christmas together so I had a whole other family to add to the naughty or nice list—and EVERYONE is ALWAYS nice (even if they do eat your leftovers by “accident”).
Alyssa sat down beside me on the floor without saying anything and gently handed me the box in both of her hands. Mimicking her care, I cautiously held the box like it may explode if I even looked at it wrong. My interest was piqued. This wasn’t just another gift, that I was certain of. No, this box wasn’t going to just contain more organic gummies, oatmeal or detox shots… this was better. So much better!
But what could be better than detox shots, I asked myself.
Looking back, I realize I should’ve known. The cylindrical box with the soft colors and pattern should’ve given it away. The perfect ribbon bow on top should’ve given it away. The anticipation I felt radiating from Alyssa should’ve given it away. The fact that she pulled out her phone saying she wanted to record my reaction—dear God how did it not give it away?
As Alyssa recorded, I held onto the box, wondering what could be inside. “Don’t shake it,” she said just before I went to do so. I raised the box to my ear and listened. Could it be the new puppy she was talking about wanting? Not unless it was a dead puppy, because the box had no holes. A giant tarantula? No, Alyssa hates bugs. My ability to see what this was—what this really was—was clouded by my eagerness. The nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat anticipation. Finally, I tugged on an end of the bow until it came undone and slid off the box’s sides. Then, holding the box at a distance, fearful of something jumping out at me, I began lifting the lid. I peered through the small crack between the box and lid and saw something. Something small, furry. Was it an animal after all? It was dark and hard to see. I lifted the lid further. Light flooded the box and every breath that was left in my lungs was suddenly gone.
A whirlwind of thoughts. Is this a joke? Is it for sure? How long? I felt my whole life change all at once and everything was so sudden it felt like the earth had stopped mid-spin and shifted. I’d never felt tears flood my eyes so quickly. Inside the box was the smallest pair of light grey knit booties sitting atop layers of gold-speckled white tissue paper. They sat next to a pacifier and a pregnancy test. The digital screen on the test read, Pregnant. I looked up to Alyssa, who still held the camera. She was smiling through tears. “Are you sure?” I asked. She nodded as she wiped her wet cheeks.
The rest of the night was spent in shocked daze (in a good way) as my brain tried to process everything. I was mesmerized. Nervous. Thrilled. Eager. Everything that I still am today as Alyssa enters her 2nd trimester.
Following this big reveal we hung out with Alyssa’s parents for a while. Her mom was there when the test came back positive so she already knew. Alyssa said she’d come out of the bathroom crying and her mom frantically asked her, “Who died?!” Her dad, however, missed the big moment, so when he came home from work that night we surprised him with the same box Alyssa had surprised me with. To our shock, and relief, he was actually very happy with the news; even cried a little. To be truthful, everyone was more than happy for Alyssa and I, which says a lot about the people we have around us because you never know how family and friends will react to such life-altering news. Everyone has been extremely supportive and, honestly, I think the grandparents are more excited than Alyssa and I! The next day we surprised my family with the little blue box and my mother cried as soon as she pulled off the lid, which I told Alyssa would happen.
So we’re having a baby. Everyday it still hits like a dream I’m trying not to wake up from. Then I realize it isn’t a dream at all. Things get even more real when we start discussing our new future… like baby names. Speaking of which, for a while there it seemed like agreeing on a name was going to send Alyssa and I to couple’s counseling (I actually know a couple who recently had a baby that that happened to). Just too many names and not enough time! Luckily, Alyssa and I were able to peacefully agree on a name, but until we know the gender, we’re calling the lime-sized 12-week old wonder in her belly Baby Herm (her + him = herm).
For most of my adult life I’ve wanted to be a dad. Helping raise my youngest brother and cousin were two of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. I’ve always fantasized about planting another little piece of me in this world and helping him/her grow. I’ve seen us laying down on the couch at 4 AM surrounded by toys and watching Blues Clues or whatever comes on that early (George Lopez). I’ve thought about all the life lessons I would teach and how I’d steer him/her from my own mistakes and rocky paths.
But even though I’ve watched all this play out in my mind, I never truly thought it would come to fruition. Neither did my mom or stepdad and they never hid that thought. “We’re never going to be grandparents, huh?” they’d murmur at every holiday gathering. If there’s one thing that can be taken from this blog, it’s that I’ve never done well with relationships. I genuinely never thought I’d meet someone I’d ever want to take this step with. And yes, the miracle growing inside Alyssa’s belly was fully intentional—but still a surprise. It hasn’t, however, been as glorious for Alyssa as it is for a lot of other expecting mothers. During her first trimester she was extremely nauseous and dizzy pretty much 24/7 and had a lot of trouble keeping anything down. It got to the point where she almost needed to receive IVs at the hospital. Thankfully, the second trimester seems to be taking it easier on her.
As I mentioned before, Alyssa’s just entering her second trimester. On January 4th we heard the most beautiful sound either of us had ever heard when Baby Herm’s heartbeat pounded through the speakers during the ultrasound. On February 4th–tomorrow–we’ll go in for our 4th appointment and have blood testing done to check the gender (isn’t it fucking crazy doctors can do that? I had no idea such a process even existed!). Then, in mid-March, right after we move into our new apartment, we’ll have a small virtual gender reveal party to let our closest friends and family know if Baby Herm is a her or him!
This is such a big chapter in mine and Alyssa’s life—one we’ll be taking side by side every step of the way. And I’ll do everything in my power to write it as best I can, and to make sure I’m the man I need to be for both Alyssa and Baby Herm. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and share this moment with us! I’ll keep you updated!
Till next time,
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