Well the 50 megaton bomb had well and truly been dropped on me. My girlfriend of 6 months was pregnant! I hadn’t seen her since finding out, and I hadn’t seen either set of parents.
They say in the second leading up to your death you see your whole life up to that point flash before your eyes, but in the second after finding out we were pregnant I saw everything my life could have been flash before my eyes.
But what about my life?!
No, I’m being dramatic here, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of “but there’s still so much I want to experience first”. I mourned for the all the city breaks, impromptu holidays and uninterrupted sex that could have been. Could we afford this? Could I actually support a family? How much cash would I need to emigrate that evening? What are my legal rights at this point? THERE IS NO F**KING SPOTIFY PLAYLIST FOR THIS SITUATION! Thinking back though, “The End of the World As We Know It” is pretty apt.
I’d always been proud of having a structured thought process – I’m one of those men who is under the perpetual impression they could reason and think their way through every situation (I suppose I could have shortened that to “I’m a man”). In this situation though imagine a thought process that is less like a smooth-flowing stream of lava and more like a torrent of falling ash, debris and molten “WHAT THE F**K”ness. I had some growing up to do in the coming 9 months. It was 9 months, wasn’t it? Or was it 10? I’d heard it was 40 weeks but that’s 10 months. Wait…are we talking calendar months here or lunar months? Surely it’s lunar months because women have their periods every 28 days, don’t they? How can it take that long to make a baby anyway when it takes a pigeon ELEVEN DAYS?
Suffice to say I wasn’t really thinking straight at this point. The “general knowledge” section of my brain was leaking into the “serious life decisions” section, pull yourself together Mark!
“MUM, KATHRYN’S PREGNANT!”
Against Kathryn’s wishes I decided to go to my parents’ house before heading to her house. My dad was sitting on the couch in his usual position – slouched back with two bags of Walkers crisps poured out onto his pot belly, the perfect man-bowl! I often wondered whether he could really enjoy watching TV when half of the experience was the contents of a pack of Ready Salted slowly rising into view, pausing at eye-level and then dipping back down as he exhaled. I guess if he timed it right he could watch the film twice and fill in the gaps. That wasn’t a priority right now though and I made a mental note to do the maths later.
My dad is awesome, he’s the stereotypical scouser father who doubles as a best friend and I know his reaction would have been similar to how I’d react if one of my friends told me this news: “ha, shit, really? What are you going to do?”. I reckoned I had a better chance of getting comfort from my mum.
I wandered into the kitchen and exchanged pleasantries with my mum. She instantly knew I was on edge and asked me about it. My plan of smoothly letting her know she was going to be a grandma went to shit, the conversation was a tad rushed:
Mum: “Hi Love, are you ok? You look a bi…”
Me: “KATHRYN’S PREGNANT!”
What my mum did next I will never, ever forget. I was expecting her to share in my panic, take half the load off me, to discuss with me what I had to do next – start saving, plan for the future, sell my Playstation; that’s not how it played out. She smiled at me, bunched her shoulders together and held my face gently in her hands as she kissed my forehead and said “Oh darling that’s so wonderful”.
The rest of the visit was trivial. I’d heard all I needed to hear right then, it WAS wonderful, wasn’t it? I love kids – I can make them laugh in the most stupid of ways, I’m already uncle knobhead to my nephew. I’m a caring person, surely I can keep a mini-person alive long enough until it’s self sufficient!
“Sorry Sir, I accidentally impregnated your daughter”
I jumped on the next train to Kathryn’s house. I remember it costing me £6.80 and thinking “this is how it’s going to be from now. £6.80 here, £900 there, goodbye disposable income!”. Funnily enough I smiled and exhaled at that thought. I stared out of the train window, it was dark at this point and there was rain splashing against it.
I arrived at Kathryn’s house, said hi to her folks and headed upstairs. Kathryn handed me the pregnancy test and my initial thoughts were “what a marvel of chemical engineering! It must be some form of chromatography”. I took the cap off and the active “test section” brushed against my hand. I paused, stared down at the 6-hour old patch of urine that was on my hand, sighed and replaced the cap. Bloody typical.
We had agreed not to tell our parents until we were together. Like me though, Kathryn had gone against this and told her mum already. We headed downstairs to tell her dad, Dave. I should mention at this point that I really got on with her dad, he’s one of these awesome older guys that probably would have lead me astray as a kid if he was a generation lower and in the same school. Regardless, how do you tell a guy that you’ve knocked his daughter up, potentially under his own roof? I hadn’t thought this through…
Me: “We have something to tell you”
Dave: “Oh, ok. Go on…”
Me: “Kathryn’s pregnant” <- what the actual f**k Mark. Talk about ripping the plaster off! I’m not leaving this house outside of a box.
D: “What? Pregnant…as in…having-a-baby pregnant?”
Me: “Yes Dave”
Me: “I’m going to do right by her, I promise. Nothing bad can come from this, it’s going to work out and I’m going to make sure it does”
Now, at this point I reached over and put my hand on Kathryn’s thigh. The intention was to show that we were as one, unified, strong, that I would protect her and look after her. But I’m pretty sure the whole gesture just screamed “She’s mine now, bitch!”. I cringed, took my hand away – a little too quickly I supposed, so I put it back. Shit, now I’ve just doubled down on my imaginary show of alpha-maleness. What the hell was I playing at?! Oh for f**k’s sake Dave just say something already! I went into this conversation thinking I was going to own it, be the man, be someone Dave could be confident with. Oh christ, was I premature in thinking this was going to go well?
Dave sighed thoughtfully. He looked away like an actor glancing at the auto prompt. At the time I thought he was just carefully structuring his next sentence but now I know him, the sneaky bastard was totally trying to talk to us and watch Countryfile at the same time. Either way, the next thing he said completely put my mind at ease:
D: “I think this will make you as a couple. I know you’ll look after them both Mark”.
Holy shit, did I just dodge the biggest bullet of them all or what? I was fully prepared to hit the ground and assume the foetal position as Dave elbow-dropped me and banned me from seeing his daughter ever again. But no, there was no physical violence. There wasn’t even any name-calling. Both sets of parents were supporting us here!
This is happening. It’s actually really happening, and you know what? I’m happy. I want this!
Tips for letting the parents know
In terms of priority, your good lady should come first, clearly! Following this though, it’s vital that you handle both sets of parents properly. Here are my 2 tips for letting future grandma and grandpa know.
- When you tell them, tell them with confidence. For the mum’s parents, nothing could fill them with more doubt and fear for their own daughter than a sheepish boy cowering and fearfully explaining that he’s got her pregnant. For the dad’s parents, well…it’s slightly easier I think, but it’s just as imperative that you’re in control of the situation. Pretend if you have to.
- Do it together. You’re explaining to your parents that you’re potentially bringing a baby into this world to raise together. The least you could do is be together when you break this news – an image (or illusion if it has to be) of unification is important.