Origin story: Our hero is en route

BREAKING: I'm going to be a dad.

Yes. A father. In the nonprofit industry of responsibility, it's a promotion. Starting in August, seven pounds or so of helpless, squirming pink will be in my hands.

My wife and I will be responsible for every move it — yes, "it," we won't know the gender until next month — makes. All while the world watches from afar and — consciously or not — judges our performance. Just like we used to do.

Did you know irony tastes like panic? A neurotic kick with not-so-subtle notes of anxiety?

Still, I could not be more delighted. I hope you'll indulge me over the next few months, let me pen my moments of eagerness and uncertainty in an effort to assemble this 1,000-piece puzzle of first-time fatherhood.

If this were a comic book, it'd be an origin story. Kal-El has just escaped Krypton safely, is still hurtling through space in a little ship. Earth is a blue dot on the horizon.

And somewhere on its surface, two parents to-be wait.

Issue No. 1: Patience. The first third of my wife's first pregnancy was a parable about patience, an animation of someone drumming their fingers while steam poured out their ears.

When she found out back in December, she had to wait to tell me. I was very sick. The bug I'd caught was some destructive hybrid of ebola and the virus from "Walking Dead." But, as most people with functioning immune systems are apt to do, I improved.

My wife told me she wanted to start the weekend off by heading to National Creek Falls, near Union Creek. It's a secluded spot. A large waterfall hisses in one corner while a perpetual mist blankets the air. Creeks trickle happily nearby.

We'd only been there a few minutes when she had me set up my video camera on a tripod and told me she wanted to give me an early Christmas present.

Cool, I thought. I got in front of the lens and closed my eyes and felt something press into my upturned hands. I heard the "BINK" of the camera beginning to record.

"Open your eyes," my wife said.

I did, saw the picture frame and flipped it over.

Remember that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" where Mary cross-stitches the "George Lassos The Moon" picture for him? That picture stared back at me, only "George" was crossed out, replaced with "Ryan." "The Moon" was also crossed out, replaced with "a stork." It took me a few seconds. Then a quiet synapse in my brain ignited.

I screamed the word "WHAT?" I looked up at her and said, "Are you"¦"

She nodded eagerly, grinning. She was six weeks along. I hugged her and told her I'd never been so happy or scared in my life. I meant it. We codenamed the tiny mass of cells "Chip," because it was the size of a chocolate chip when she told me.

We showed the footage to her parents Christmas Day. My mother-in-law stamped her feet, grabbed her face as it went red and tears poured down. My mom cried too when we told my family over Skype and hugged my sister, who just looked stunned. My dad smiled. His face went pensive as he journeyed to the Land of Overanalysis/Nostalgia, a popular destination resort for first-time grandparents.

My brother. Lord, my brother. His reaction started with a proclamation that he "KNEW IT." He decided "Chip" should be called "Gunner" — regardless of gender — and could not stop grinning. He sent me a list of names. The opus of reactions was a late-in-the-day Christmas present for me.

An agreed-to public announcement embargo of Feb. 14 has now passed. A difficult request, they said.

People just have to share good news, I think. Bad news is easier to bottle, store and forget about. Good news comes gushing from taps into foam-topped pints we down with gusto before slamming them down on the counter and bellowing for more.

That's all for now, I think. I'm closing this first issue and putting it back in its protective cover.

I wonder if comic-book writers get frustrated at having to see their story unfold in courses because their audience can't see their completely realized tale all at once. Because, frankly, I'm there right now.

When it comes to my first kid, its health and my wife's health as she keeps it warm and nourished and growing, I almost want a spoiler alert. I wonder what Chip's voice will sound like, what it will look like, how it will sound when it cries. What it will be afraid of. What it will be enthralled by.

Even silly things, components like whether it will be a Broncos fan like me or side with my wife and her Packers on Sundays, whether it will even care about football. Whether comics will be a vital part of its life's lexicon, or if it will politely request I not wear superhero shirts out in public.

So many questions and dreams. More than I've ever had.

But it has to be this way, I suppose. For Chip, my Kal-El, the journey to Earth is going to take time. His story will be told in chapters, in single-issue comic books. Not full volumes.

I'll try to savor each issue, Chip. Please forgive the restlessness I exhibit along the way. I'm just so excited to meet you.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/pocketprotector

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