You're not going to hear from me for a little while.
My wife is imminently expecting our first child, and as soon as pre-labor begins, I'll be taking about a month off away from the Weekly to focus on new priority duties -- fatherly ones. I've been working from home while on "baby watch" for the past week with the due date arriving this Saturday, but no news to report as of press time.
(That's just fine; take all of the time you need to get here healthy and happy. But maybe for your mom's sake, don't go too late…)
We're as ready as we can be. We took part in pregnancy centering sessions, completed multiple education courses on subjects like labor, breastfeeding and postpartum, heard the advice from family and friends, and read literature on the nine months and beyond.
It's a thrilling time for sure, in many ways.
And I'll be the first to acknowledge the obvious: I haven't shared about the pregnancy and our excitement at all in this space.
I'm just not the type to wear my personal life and emotions on my sleeve, but I won't cover it up entirely either. So while I might not have written about it or gone out of my way to volunteer updates, I've certainly been truthful -- once we successfully cleared the first trimester -- when getting questions like "do you have any kids?" "Not yet, but one's on the way."
That's in part because I understand and respect the reciprocal nature of our business. Journalists rely on sources being open and honest about important and sometimes deeply personal information when asked, so I aim to do the same.
Our baby's sex is one exception. My wife and I know the answer, but we're keeping it a secret until the birth (unless a family or friend caught on to the occasional pronoun slip-up).
We don't have any deeply personal reasons for not revealing that attribute, such as the increasing trend among our generation to raise gender-neutral babies until they can discover for themselves.
I plan on embracing their gender at birth and sharing the news (and name) with family. Just like I plan to embrace should they ever decide their assigned sex or gender identity isn't who they are. That's the kind of unconditional loving environment I hope to embody as a parent.
You know, if you pressed me more on why I haven't written about the pregnancy, I'd probably also talk about how I don't want to come off as taking it for granted. (Things like fear of the unknown, not wanting to jinx anything, the ongoing pandemic and not wanting to face the vulnerability of being so excited and then something bad happens are all factors for me too.)
It's in my nature to be acutely aware that nothing is guaranteed. Just look at my past news articles. In a city council meeting preview, I'll usually write the council "is set to discuss" rather than "will discuss" -- because who am I to say what actually "will" happen? Of course, I really don't like to get it wrong either.
The pregnancy journey cemented that mentality. While we certainly did not have as difficult a time as many couples endure, it wasn't easy for us either. Month after month to no avail. Some false hope. Entering the initial stages of investigating fertility options, until success early in our second year of trying.
It's striking just how common our experience can be, and how little we as an American society still don't embrace discussing fertility issues.
And if you really dug at me like a good journalist would, I'd likely reveal that another reason I haven't shared more at large is not wanting to deal with some of the public reaction.
I have a thick skin; almost a must to be an effective journalist. But that doesn't mean I always want to deal with the comments, especially on a personal level. And bear in mind, I'm not the only one who would take it personally, including our future child.
Even now I'm sure there's a reader or two feeling the urge to post a gripe or poke at me for something I wrote about becoming a parent, a moment that's supposed to be about pure joy.
They'll surely do so without their real name too.
Don't get me wrong; anonymity can be a vital part of our profession. An anonymous source coming forward to a journalist (who is often a stranger) with critical information: brave. An anonymous poster spewing on a comment thread or social media … not so much.
Look no further than some of the comments on our news story from last month on the birth of Hank Swalwell. While many were positive and welcoming, plenty of nameless posters took political or personal swipes at his dad, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell.
I know the local congressman is polarizing, and he certainly doesn't need me to defend him or his family, but I mean … what kind of weak comments are those? Telling.
During the pregnancy, I've noticed myself more cognizant while scrolling on social threads and seeing personal posts or news articles about topics like positive birth experiences, devastating labor losses, infant milestones, childhood cancer, miscarriages, infertility and paid family leave.
Maybe that's why a tweet Swalwell sent this fall stood out to me: A comment with a photo of all of the medical and personal products his wife had in the bathroom to help her with the physical recovery of childbirth.
It's something many new mothers face, yet so little public discourse is spent on those impactful aspects of labor and delivery. It's stunning how our country continues to deprioritize family leave and affordable medical support, especially for the birthing parent.
With that I'll get off my soapbox. I hope you'll cut me some slack; it's my first time preparing to be a parent. But make no mistake: the next time you hear from me, I'll be a different person.
I can't wait.
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.
on Dec 16, 2021 at 7:54 pm
on Dec 16, 2021 at 7:54 pm