Having A Child, With Fear And Trembling

having a child

My wife and I are having a child.

This may come as a shock to those of you that know me personally. I’m a little old to be a new father, and I had all but given up on my hopes of having a child.

But 2016 was quite a year for my wife and I. We were married at the very end of 2015, converted to Orthodox Christianity, moved across the state, and bought a house. This latest news is icing on the cake. It is also cause for a lot of fear I thought I had buried.

I’m about to be really honest about all of this. Consider yourself warned.

Most of you have already experienced the hopes and fears I am feeling now. All of my peers have seen their children grow up and leave for college, the military or married life. Some of the people I went to high school with are even grandparents by now.

Even my wife has already given birth to one child, and been through all this before. I feel very alone in this process, like the last of some near-extinct species.

As I wrote in a previous post, my experiences with pregnancy have all ended in despair. For years I have learned to push aside all longing for a child and to force myself into a stoic acceptance that I was not meant to have a child of my own. In a world filled with indifferent, incompetent, and even malicious parents, I’ve lived for decades with the cruel irony that I wouldn’t even get the chance to try.

I’ve kept a brave face on Father’s Day – which is supposed to be all about me – when I have to divide time with a biological father. If this sounds like self-pity, by God I think I’ve earned it.

Understand that this takes nothing away from my stepdaughter. She is a joy to me, and one hug from her takes away a week’s worth of stress. I love her like my own flesh, and I know that she loves me. But I remember my place every time she calls me by my first name. I may be her stepdad, but I’ll never truly be Daddy.

So now I will spend the next nine months waiting for the other shoe to drop. While I’m sure all expecting couples worry, I will fight against a certainty that the worst will happen. I will have to force myself to pray for the fullness of God’s blessing, instead of praying for the strength to endure the inevitable.

Despite all of this, having a child is something I’ve always felt was supposed to happen for me. I’ve pursued it even when I should have stopped. I’ve sought it for reasons that were not the best. I’ve tried to force God’s hand. And now, at this late stage, I have another chance.

Against all my tendencies to fear, I have hope. With God’s blessing, my wife and I will be Orthodox converts raising a cradle Orthodox child. This child won’t know the pain of giving up a lifetime of Gospel hymns; they will know only the joy of the Divine Liturgy. They won’t have to find the True Faith; it has come to them before they were born.

As with my journey with Orthodoxy, I’m inviting you to go on this journey with my wife and me. I’ll be as open and honest about it as my pride and sense of personal space will allow. I’ll ask for your advice and your help at times. We’ll need your encouragement and prayers in the weeks and months ahead.

Above all, Lord have mercy.

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