Pregnancy has been full of little perks I didn’t think I’d embrace with such fervor: the comfy elastic-waisted jeans, the strange-but-amazing little kicks and pokes in my belly, the out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new game of nesting – I’m liking this pre-mama thing. But the very best part of it all? Watching Shane eagerly anticipate the arrival of the baby has filled me with such incredible joy and gratitude. From the very moment I saw that faint pink line that meant pregnant back in December, he’s been super-dad, scouring the Internet for the best OB, then registering us for birth classes and infant safety lessons and a hospital tour, spending hours reading online reviews to determine the right stroller for little Schnell. He checks his BabyBump app daily and fills me in on how the baby is developing, what kinds of changes are on the horizon, when I can expect my ankles to swell and my belly button to pop out. He’s a little stricter than I’d like when it comes to me taking (little) bites of poached egg and I can’t stand that disapproving look he gives me when I sneak a (tiny) sip of his wine, but I try not to begrudge his desire that I follow the rules. I know those raised eyebrows are rooted in love and concern. Daily I’m seeing him care for me in new and thoughtful ways, as his way of caring for the baby inside of me. I love the fact that he still remembers to slow down at that stomach-dropping portion of downhill road near Jason and Nancy’s, after my first-trimester moan that I could no longer handle his speedy driving. I cherish the nights he curls up to me on the couch to gently put his hands on my belly while we watch baseball. On those days when I feel especially big and uncomfortable in this rapidly expanding body of mine, he kisses me and reminds me that I’m beautiful, that this extra weight is part of a wonderful miracle.
There’s a scene in Juno (a Schnell fave) where Jennifer Garner’s character talks about how a woman begins to feel like a mother during pregnancy, but a man doesn’t identify with fatherhood until the actual birth of the baby. Not so, Jen, not so. This dear man already has dad written all over his proud, grinning face.