Becoming A Dad | RJ Lewis Photography

On October 6th, 2015, I was sitting in my, then office, sending out emails to clients that I received over night. I just got back from dropping my wife off at the bus and taken Cody for a long walk. In the middle of my email, my phone begins to buzz and when I looked down at my phone there was a text message from my wife. when I unlocked my phone to read it there was only a photo. It was a photo of a positive pregnancy test. My initial reaction was, "What the F***!" A part of me thought it was a joke, but the other part of me was freaking out, in a good way. She instantly called me and told em it was true. When I got off the phone with Ashley I was jumping all over the house, so freaking excited. Becoming a Dad is something I always wanted.

Back story, a year prior, my wife and I got pregnant and had a miscarriage 6 weeks into the pregnancy. It was the worst feeling you could possibly imagine. I just hid my feelings from the world because I have to be strong form my wife. She is the one carrying our child, so what right did I have to be sad? ( I know it is stupid to think, but at the time I just pushed my feelings aside). I needed to make sure that she was ok. But when we got the news that we were pregnant again I just went crazy. That feeling of sadness and loss completely disappeared and I was so positive, joyful and full of life!

On October 26th, almost 6weeks pregnant, we walked into the doctors office hoping that this was going to be the day that 2 years of trying, heartache, happiness and sadness all went away and we were going to be starting the journey to becoming parents. It was pretty quite until our doctor said, "Congrats! There is your baby!!!". A huge sigh of relief and instant smiles came upon my face and Ashley's face. And then I heard the greatest sound in the world... My child's heartbeat for the first time. Truly there is nothing like it.

Going along through this pregnancy the miracle of life truly astonishes me. 9months (technically 10months) of this baby growing. Every doctor visit seeing how they have progressed and how big they got. I can attest that there is not a man in this world that can go through what women go through when pregnant. Lets be honest when men have a cold it is like we are going to die. As a man I have no problem admitting that.

 I think the worst part about this pregnancy was keeping the secret from our families until we knew for sure that we were out of the critical miscarriage months. Ashley and I always talked about and fantasized on how we would tell everyone. we would talk about what everyones reaction was going to be... Would they just start crying?... Would they start screaming?... For the first 12 weeks we just kept it as hush hush as possible. I was so proud of myself that I did not let it slip to my mom, who I talk to every day on the phone. Also she is know as the witch of the family, my mom usually knows everything before it happens.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day... 11.5 weeks pregnant and we are about to tell everyone we are pregnant. Ashley and I came up with the idea that we were going to give my parents a wrapped Christmas present. Inside would be The Complete Works of Winnie the Pooh and inside the book would be a letter from their grandchild and a picture of the sonogram from our latest visit.

Before we told my family, it was time to tell Ashley's Dad and Step-mom. Obviously we would have loved to do this in person, but since this was the year we had Thanksgiving in NJ we had to do it over the phone. We went out to take Cody for a walk and Ashley made the call. She sent her Step-mom an email saying "Happy Thanksgiving Grandma and Grandpa, Can't wait to meet you!", along with sonograms. She had them open the email as they were on the phone with us and the reaction was well worth it. Her dad said, "Well it's about time!" Ashley's face instantly smiled. Still I think apart of us both wishes it was in person. We talked to them a bit more and then headed into my parents house. It was time to tell them.

While sitting around the television in my parents den in NJ watching the parade and it is the time that Santa arrives. Ashley gives me the look to go get the present and I hand it to my mom telling her that someone left it for them at our house. She reads the tag and says, "Too Mom and Pops... From Santa". She looks at the penguin wrapping paper and says, "I don't like penguins, must be for someone else." Just open I tell her. So she does and sees that it is a Winnie the Pooh book... Still does not get it. "Open the book already", I said to her. Finally she does and she notices the sonogram. Her eyes get huge as she turns to my wife to get assurance that what she was seeing is actually true. My mom then start to ball her eyes out all the time my niece Kathleen turns to Ashley, knowing what is going on and saying, "No, no, are you sure, don't lie to me!", as if we told her that Santa was to real. My dad instantly cried, but he is a big softy. It truly was a moment I could live over and over again.  

Throughout the day it was a great deal of on the phone telling only the close people to us. Calling my Godmother, calling and Facetiming with the rest of Ashley's side of the family. Everyone was so excited, as if we made everyone's Thanksgiving that much more special.

Milestone after milestone is how I would describe this entire pregnancy. Every month going to the doctor, then every two weeks and then every week... Every time we head to the doctors we see how much our child has grown and evolving. Each time I hear the heartbeat the anticipation grows more and more. One of the best moments was finding out what we were having. It was something Ashley and I both wanted to find out. We could never understand why people want to be surprised. We wanted to be prepared, start the nursery, get cloths, etc... plus waiting 9 months would make us go crazy.

On our 20 week visit the time arrived to find out what we were going to have. Were we having a baby boy or a baby girl. We both truly wanted a boy, even though it really did not matter, as long as they were healthy. We got into the examining room and the doctor comes in and begins the sonogram. He asked us if we wanted to find out what the sex is and we instantly said yes. "Your having a.... Boy!" those words instant ran through me and at that moment Ashley and I both raise our arms shouting, "Yes!" Ashley knew it all along... But we both asked if he was sure and he said, "I would bet my life on it."   

We left the doctors so excited! I was doing a dance that we are having a boy. That night we went to the diner for dinner and Ashley called her Dad and Step-mom. When her dad answered she asked him how he felt about throwing a football around whit his grandchild? His reaction was, "Are you sure?" I think most grandfather's secretly want a granddaughter. Lets just say it took him a few weeks to get use to the fact that he was having a grandson, but he could not be more thrilled and excited.

We were going to through a gender reveal party, mainly because my youngest niece really wanted us to. We ordered a cake, got decorations, plates, etc... Then it was canceled due to the blizzard of 2015. So we made the phone calls and we especially Skyped with my parents to see there reaction. We got them on Skype, after it took them 15 mins to figure out to hit the camera button so we could see each other. When it was time to tell them the news, we held up two signs: Julian Richard and Charlotte-Ray.... We told them that on the count of 3 we were going to crumble one of the papers and the one left is the name of their grandchild. 1..2..3...!!! We crumbled up the girl paper and my mom freaked out screaming and my Dad cried. I think we know what to expect from my dad when he meets Julian for the first time.

So we are having a little boy....

Backstory on Julian Richard's name. Basically the name "Julian" is for a friend of mine who was killed in Afghanistan, defending our freedom. I remember vividly sitting on the 5th floor of the student lounge of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and talking to him every morning about anything and everything. Seeing him preform, there was nothing like it. I wanted to be just like him. the fact that my son will be carrying his name is something I will always treasure.

Finally the name "Richard", simply names after my father-in-law. He is truly a great man, who would give you the shirt off his back. He single handedly made the woman my wife is today. He put her on the right path and I know that my son is going to have one of the greatest Grandfather's in the world.

So there you have it... "Julian Richard".

I may have gotten side tracked, but everything here is what it is like becoming a father. To answer the question though... It is the greatest, amazing, nervous, terrifying, feeling of my entire life and I would not have it any other way. I know I am not going to be the perfect father. I know I am going to make mistake after mistake, but I assure you I am going to fight every single day to be the best Dad for Julian. I am going to do whatever it takes to give him the life he truly deserves. To be able to go on this journey with my best friend and partner in life (or crime) is something only dreams are made of. Everyday I wake up and realize how lucky I am.

Hopefully my next blog post will have some much much different news with maybe a picture or two of our new addition to the family. Until then... Check out some amazing images from our journey...