Reflections from a Nursery Window

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner

Today marks the beginning of the 29th week and the baby has now gone from an eggplant to a squash. Alison has gone through a lot in the last month too (as you probably read about already). As for dear old dad though, aside from cleaning out closets and starting to get the room ready, I haven’t done much but try the best I can to provide some massages and comfort for my wife’s backaches and pains. Still, with only a little more than 10 weeks to go, I’m starting to finally think seriously about something I know Alison has already mulled over plenty — labor and delivery.

Tomorrow morning we embark on a “tour” of the materity ward, and in two weeks we start some “classes” to [probably more overwhelm than] prepare us for the big day. We happened to be in the hospital earlier this week as well and visited the happy second floor as a preview of what we’ll be seeing soon. I think we were probably there for 20 minutes just staring through the clear panes of the nursery at all the little newborns sleeping or squirming through a few moments of their first few days on this earth. Things started to feel so much more real as I pictured myself in that room with this tiny foreign object that I have no idea what to do with yet. I just kept hugging Alison and pulling her close as I got even more excited for the adventure we get to go on together. I think I’m starting to really feel the “I’m going to be a Dad” butterflies that I guess are supposed to come around this time.

Somebody asked me recently if I’d ever held a newborn baby, and I had to think for a moment, but it turns out I have. In fact, I remembered that that event was actually quite a turning point for me. You probably know that before I got married, I wasn’t exactly what you would call a dog person. However, on my wedding day, I surprised Alison by letting her know I was ready to get a dog, and so Princeton joined the family. What fewer people know about are the many events that led up to my revelation that I wanted a dog after all. Of course there were plenty of discussions and wrestling with my own thoughts, but I remember distinctly the event that took it from a “maybe” to a “definitely” for me.


We went to visit some friends at the hospital who had just given birth to their new baby boy. We were engaged but not married yet, so I knew we were still a few years away from getting to experience this for ourselves, and as much as I am in the dark about things even now, I was literally clueless at the time about anything baby-related. When we got in to see the happy proud parents, we talked a little, Alison held the baby for a bit, and then the brand new mom asked me the question I never expected to hear. “Bryan, do you want to hold him?” I don’t know exactly what I said, but whatever my answer was, I’m certain it was a tentative one. Still, I found myself holding this new little human being, not even days old, in my arms and looking down at him in complete amazement. And it wasn’t even my own kid! I would definitely say the experience changed me.

I know it sounds strange, but I left the hospital thinking, “I need a dog.” For some reason the whole experience gave me a very strong feeling of “life” that made me want to bring another one into ours. Since, like I said, we weren’t even married yet, we were hardly close to having-a-baby territory, so a dog seemed to be just the right answer. I remember thinking it would be good preparation for a real human baby. Laughable, I know, but remember, I was truly clueless at the time.

Anyway, here I am just a couple of months away from being on the other side of this experience, reflecting back a mere three years ago. Since getting married, Princeton has been such a fountain of joy for both Alison and me, I literally cannot even imagine how much joy our soon-to-be daughter will bring us.

Although our moment with them was deeply important for me, sadly, we don’t really talk anymore to those friends who so warmly welcomed us into their new world that day in the hospital. I’ve seen it before and I can understand it — I think parenting became pretty all-consuming for them and we both just more or less lost touch with each other. That’s something I think and worry about a little bit too these days. I hope we can maintain all of our adult friendships, but I also look forward to cultivating new relationships with young families like us. I think that’s a whole other post though.

  1. Paula Pfeifle
    5/22/2011 8:14 PM

    You two are going to be perfect parents. She’s going to have so much love surrounding her. I can’t wait to meet this beautiful little girl.

  2. Ryan
    5/22/2011 5:53 PM

    If you get the option at your hospital, you should have your newborn daughter stay with you in your maternity room, not in the nursery. I think that will be a better experience for you. We did that with both of our boys. The nurses did all of their tests and such in our room while we watched. Neither boy ever left our sights, except for the first few moments when they were being cleaned up after birthing.

    Unfortunately, we have lost touch with most of our adult friends who are not parents themselves. If you need someone to hang out with, babysit (when she’s older), ask questions or seek advice from, etc, we’re available 🙂 maybe our kids can play together when she is ready.

  3. Pattie
    5/20/2011 7:30 PM

    I can’t WAIT to see you hold YOUR baby girl. What a lucky little thing she is to have you two as parents!
    Now I’m gonna go dry my eyes.

  4. George
    5/20/2011 6:13 PM

    Holding a new born is a pretty tremendous experience. I can only imagine what it would be like to hold your own, knowing you created her. I’m jealous. I also hope you can hold on to your adult friendships. It will be a challenge as I’ve had it happen with most of mine. As long as we can still talk theatre, movies and everything pop-culture, we’ll be fine.

  5. Sara E
    5/20/2011 4:40 PM

    Insightful and heartwarming – I love this post. Add us to the “young families like us” list. 🙂

  6. Rachel
    5/20/2011 3:48 PM

    Great insight into a daddy-to-be’s mind. Us girls find it all so natural and we forget how alien of an experience it is for guys. I also love knowing how you went from “no dog” to “must have a dog.”