It was an early evening in mid-September. I was home alone. A Friday night, if I remember correctly.

Now there was nothing particularly special about this evening. I was waiting for Shelley to come home from work so we could go out for a delicious meal together. Probably Italian. I don’t remember—I only know that it wasn’t Mexican since the pregnancy robbed her, albeit temporarily, of her passionate love of the melted cheese, tortillas, and chicken combination that had served us so well for years. In its stead, was a seemingly endless love affair with cuisine from the boot-shaped European country.

I’m not complaining … Italy has been good to us. If you can’t say nice things about pizza, then you shouldn’t be allowed to eat. It’s just that I really miss the chips and salsa. It’s nice to go to a restaurant and be immediately treated to a unique blend of tomatoes and jalapenos—along with some tortilla crisps. It’s a lovely gesture and puts me in a very jolly mood. I like to think the salsa is made with a recipe that has been preserved for generations through a series of arduous and seemingly impossible circumstances that challenged the very existence of this little bowl of chunky goodness now placed before me for dipping.

You’d think a baby would be into that sort of thing, but whatever. I’m not the one growing a human life in my torso.

But I digress …

On this nondescript evening of the ninth month of the year, I was at home waiting for my beautiful spouse to arrive for an evening of non-Mexican food and a guaranteed designated driver. That’s one of the perks of being the male half of a pregnancy. “Should I have another glass of wine? Booyah, Shelley’s got the keys!” Of course, most people who know me realize that I’m passed out under the table singing songs about my childhood dog, Princess, after a few sips of a Mambo Taxi. Still, since Shelley can’t partake in the spirits, it was good to know that I could be extra spiritual for the two of us.

But, again, I digress …

I remember very little about this quiet Friday night at Casa de Boudreau … but the fact that it was a Friday meant that I had a soccer game the next day. This means that I needed to throw my uniform into the washing machine. As an aside… when I have a few sips of Mambo Taxi in me, I sometimes joke that Shelley is “my own personal washing machine”, but she really doesn’t get as much a kick out of it as I do. It’s pretty funny, though. Well.. the delivery is key I suppose. Blogging doesn’t allow for me to really sell it. Trust me… comedy gold.

But anyway…typically, I would be throwing both our uniforms into the wash since it is our co-ed team of four years that plays on Saturdays. But since our little bundle of Boudreau has come into existence, it has transformed our star player into our number-one fan. I know it’s been really hard for Shelley to sit on the sidelines week-after-week following years of never missing a minute of the action—but she still never misses a game. And I, we … well, everyone on our team never has a moment go uncheered or uncelebrated. She’s as valuable off the field as she is on it. That’s nice. She really is quite a spectacular woman. I miss playing with her too. She’s also quite cute in that uniform.

Again with the digressing …

Friday night. You know the setting.

So I head to the laundry room to find my uniform in the delightfully smelling basket of used clothing and undergarments. And that’s when it happened.

After seven months of pregnancy … seven months of seeing Shelley’s cute little tummy grow bit by bit … seven months of a glowing face that frowned at fajitas and smiled at bow-tie pasta … seven months of a sweet after-dinner buzz that made me extra funny … after all that time of witnessing my beautiful wife sacrifice and give of herself in just about every aspect of her life …I finally got an almost laughably tiny peek into the surreal and sometimes inexplicable world of pregnancy. I suddenly had a more pronounced understanding that I would be fathering a real-life, tiny bundle of home-made, human baby.

Pretty jaw-dropping stuff, right? I know, it sounds absurd. But as a guy, my tangible evidence is all from the outside in.

And it was just such an outside-in moment that transpired in that laundry room.

Sitting on the top of that laundry basket was a pile of brand-new onesies. Yes, I’d seen plenty of these before. But really, I normally glanced at them and thought, “That’s nice. Very cute… I suppose, if you’re really into that one-piece clothing style. Personally, I like to wear pants. I’m a pants guy, sorry. But whatever. That’s cool.”

But on this Friday night in September, I picked up that little onesie and—for a fleeting moment—could feel that baby kicking for ever-shrinking space in Shelley’s womb. I could see that flat fabric filled with bursting life and a wiggly body. There was a real baby on the way. And I was uniquely privileged and blessed to be its daddy.

So I burped the onesie.

Seriously. I am not lying. As god as my witness, I put that onesie on my shoulder, bobbed up and down, and patted the thing on the back—as if to burp the invisible, just formula-fed baby I was holding …in my imagination.

I’ve got to say …I’m not ashamed to say there was a little knot in my throat as this whole charade transpired.

Typically when people behave in this fashion, it is followed by men in white coats and large doses of medication. But for me, it was simply a sincere and earnest moment of quiet, albeit somewhat embarrassing, revelation.

Tonight at 10 pm, Shelley and I are checking into the hospital as a family of two for the last time. If all goes as planned, by tomorrow morning, we will welcome our new child to the world outside the womb.

For Shelley, this will be the culmination of an arduous and beautiful journey filled with discomfort, sacrifice, exasperation …and a few breathtaking moments of awe. She will be turning in her pregnancy ID and taking her first steps into a lifetime of motherhood. I have not a single doubt that our child will be a better, kinder, smarter, and more loving person having Shelley in their life. 

I know that I am.

As for me, I’m just eager to meet the little guy (or gal). There are inevitable fears and expectations, questions about the future, worries and hopes about the possibilities before us, and concerns over whose nose our child will inherit …but I don’t want to get ahead of myself just yet. There will be a time and place for all of that.

Tomorrow is not a promise, and I want to savor these final moments of our old life as two and cherish the first moments of our new life as three. Life goes by so fast, but that doesn’t mean we can’t seize the day and take it all in.

What can I say? I had a tender moment with a onesie, and haven’t been the same ever since.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.