It’s crazy when you really think about it, the significance of a stick no bigger than your hand changing colour. On average, we all stare down at that dial for three minutes, not knowing what it’s going to show us when the clock has ran down. Even crazier still is the fact that how you might feel as you’re waiting can change person to person. Some wait eyes closed with excitement, whilst others are closing their eyes to fight back tears. Some are already crying, whilst others aren’t sure how to feel at all.
The long wait can stir fear, anger, and shame as powerfully as it can ignite hope, joy and love. The only detail that remains the same for all of us is whether or not there’s a blue line or there isn’t. You’re at a crossroads, waiting to find out which path you’re going to be heading down. Whether it’s a yes or a no to the most pivotal moment in your life.
On the morning of said day in question, I was alone in bed because Sara had been working overnight. The curtains were drawn, my clothes from the night before were scattered all around the bedroom, and that wasn’t the only chore I’d managed to rack up in my evening of solitude (I can’t say ‘evening of freedom’ because even now, over a year and a half later, that’d earn me a swift smack around the ear from my other half).
There were dishes rising high in the sink. I struggled to rummage through and find a breakfast bowl for my Cheerios. In the front room I maneuvered myself through the chaos of empty beer bottles, a pizza box, and a ton of demolished chocolate wrappers. My PS4 has centre stage in the middle of the room because where else am I going to sit when I’m at war on Call of Duty?
I knew I was golden for another two hours, by which point Sara would be home and I would’ve already left for work myself. So I cleaned up, showered (I can’t help but feel nostalgic looking back at when I used to shower peacefully and there wasn’t a tiny human banging on the door shouting “Dadda”), and then tidied up spectacularly…
Alright, that last part is bullshit. I removed the obvious signs that I’d had a kick-ass night and left the rest for “somebody else to do”. That was my usual tactic back in those days… Man, I can already hear Sara’s hot breath on my neck reading this part, I’m sure she’s going to have words with me after discovering my old mischievous ways.
It turned into a hot day, it being August, and I was on lunch when I got a text from Sara telling me to pick up a pregnancy test on the way home.
Now I can’t say for every man, but for me, my first reaction wasn’t concern. The notion that I might be a few hours away from being told I was going to be a father seemed ludicrous. It’s not like we weren’t safe, and this had happened once or twice before in the last few years so I had no reason to believe now would be any different.
I called her up, casual as can be, basking in the sun that in this country only sticks around for a few days, so has to be taken advantage of. I half expected Sara to need convincing that she was worrying about nothing, but this time was different. I could hear it in her voice, could sense it even from my side of the phone.
‘I feel different,’ she told me matter-of-factory, as if this was explanation enough. I was tempted to remind her that I couldn’t read minds, but it wasn’t the occasion for sarcasm. Thank God I had some sense at least.
I came home a couple of hours later, test in tow, plagued by thoughts that maybe Sara was right. Maybe she was, dare I say the word, pregnant? For the first time I was hit by a wave of anxiety, which was plastered all over Sara’s face when I saw her.
We waited a while. Maybe we were just trying to enjoy our normal, two person life just that little longer. Thinking back now, I realise that those were indeed the last moments of it’s kind. I’m sure those of you reading this can go back to your version of this, before everything changed. Can you remember what you were doing? Can you remember what you said or felt?
It’s a strange one for me because from the minute Willow was born it was almost as if everything before her wasn’t really living. It all had little meaning to my life anymore, and most of it is vague to recall. But that hour with Sara I do remember perfectly. We drank tea, sat on the couch together, me rubbing her feet, laughing about nothing particularly funny like couples do. It’s almost as if we had some insight into what was coming.
Sara came out of the bathroom and I ran a bath for myself. It was just to give my hands something to do, and those three minutes sure do feel like a lifetime don’t they. Sara was quiet, standing in the hall, staring down with a blank face. I added bubbles to my bath (this was definitely an occasion for bubbles), drumming out all sound from my mind but for that of running water.
Sara came forward slowly and handed it over. I couldn’t help thinking that I was touching something she had peed on just a few minutes before, but remained mature about it.
‘Can you see it?’ Sara asked.
There it was, the thin blue line. So faded in fact that neither of us were convinced at first that this was a positive result. But of course it was. Sara was pregnant, which meant we were going to be parents.
I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own head whenever something drastic happens in your life. Even with a planned pregnancy, the realisation that it’s actually going to happen must still be overwhelming. Maybe it’s an overwhelming sense of happiness, either way you’ve got so much to accept, to work your mind around. Being in that position, me and Sara were able to support one another from that moment on. We talked it out unless we needed space, in which case the bubble bath turned out to be hugely helpful.
I lay there thinking about the morning just passed, how I’d been running around tidying up just enough not to get into trouble. That was the mentality I had had only a few hours ago. Now I was going to be a father, the blue line had proven that, meaning I had to pull myself together in order to live up to that title. Perspective came to me quickly, because I knew that I had to take a stand now. I had to step up and be a man. Be a Dad.
A stick, no bigger than your hand. Changes your whole life in just three minutes, doesn’t it?