For quite some time, I had been skeptical about my ability to have children. Having served on a submarine, I had a level of radiation exposure that many who do not serve among the Silent Service aren’t subject to. I took the urban legends to heart and worried about a curse of infertility. For years I harbored that fear in my head, mostly silently, because I was nowhere near ready or poised to father a child. Fast forward to last year when I met my forever love, my wife, my best friend, my partner, my favorite, my co-goober in the goober pod. She is my quest, and she is the one I have been waiting for and searching for. Through the muck and the mud and the deserts and fires, she is my heart’s forever home.
We had shared our mutual, individual desires to raise children of our own one day, and I shared with her my fear of infertility. I had not been tested for it since I was never actively trying to father a child, but now that I had met my Mrs., it was time to pony up. It was just after New Year’s this year when we had traveled south to a VA medical center with a urology clinic for another round of awkward discussions and not much more clarity. My hometown clinic played phone tag with me, attempting to schedule another appointment, but I inadvertently (subconsciously?) avoided furthering the conversation with them about something I desperately wanted the answer to but also feared tremendously.
26 days after my latest ink (the fermata) we got the answer we were looking for. I had just arrived home from work, to an extremely clean home, and after the initial pocket emptying/shoes removal, she walked me towards the bathroom to show me something. I was imagining a new shower curtain, maybe some new hand towels, or a soap dispenser — something “homey” and cute that highlights our domesticity — but she then drew my attention to the counter surrounding the sink. I stared at the plastic on the counter and blinked for what felt like several minutes, and when I looked back up to meet her gaze, I said, “You took three?”
We hugged, we cried (ok, maybe we sobbed), and we laughed because she corrected me and told me that she took six pregnancy tests. If you get the chance, you should ask her, because she tells this story way better than I could. Long story short: three blanks, three positives. (She took a seventh and I watched the hourglass image on the LCD display blink for an…eternity (#Holes) before it displayed a singular word, “Pregnant” and my fears of infertility were eroded by the questions and new fears and excitement and all the things.
Said baby is now 35 weeks and three days and we’re excitedly awaiting her arrival. The most popular question after sharing the baby is a girl is in regards to her name. We’ve been adamantly tight-lipped, with the first name, but we have been certain of her middle name for quite a while, Pilar, the first name of my maternal grandmother.
Prayers had been answered and answers were bestowed, and all the while my own journey in my faith and relationship with God has been, well, in its own period of gestation. With all the discussion of birthing techniques and procedures and complications and reading and videos and on and on and on, I need to constantly remind myself that although the focus is on the safe development and birthing of baby girl, taking care of myself is also taking care of the baby. Likewise (and I love to remind her of this), mama bear taking some time for self-care is also taking care of the baby.
From my perspective as a married, mid-thirties, cisgender, heterosexual male, who is first-generation American of Filipino descent, living in the midwest of the United States, the world looks pretty rough and not so welcoming for children. People say it all the time, “Why would I want to bring a child into this world?” I recently saw a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and Cameron Knight, as Benedick, delivered a brilliant performance where one of his lines that resonated with me the strongest was, “the world must be peopled!” (Act II, Scene iii).
I cannot save the world. No one person can. I can only change myself and that which I come in contact with. I can, however, help raise one quality human (hopefully more, but that’s another story). But before I help bring this beautiful baby into this world, I need to make certain my feet and solidly planted, and that I am ready and rinsed of my iniquities.
And so I made a decision to be baptized. Again. The first one I really don’t remember, though. I was raised Catholic and baptism happens (typically) during infancy, either by immersion or by surprise man made waterfall via sacramental bucket. I have since then gone through my own trials and travels and recently began celebrating Jesus, in a Christian faith community. Baptism, to me, will signify a voluntary choice to publicly acknowledge my acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and redeemer of our sins. It signifies a leap of faith I am making to trust and surrender to a God that I cannot see, literally or figuratively, while literally immersing myself in something I’m occasionally terrified by. (Fun fact: I can’t swim. Drowning is a horrendous fear of mine.)
That being said, this is an open invitation to my baptism (among several others, including my beautiful, God-loving wife) at Epic Church, at 3524 Harrison Road in Mishawaka, Indiana, on Sunday, September 10th, at 7pm EDT. If, by chance, you attend and share in this wonderful sacrament and event, and we have not hugged, please come up to me afterwards and share a hug. Please. I’ve got plenty to go around. I’m almost 36 years old and I haven’t run out of hugs.
9/10/17 is going to be a milestone date in my life’s journey. This date sixteen years ago will also always stick with me as a milestone date, for macro and micro reasons, but I’ll save those for another time. But on September 10th of this year, I am taking a huge leap of faith, and I would love for you to join with me, simply with your presence, whether you believe in God or not, whether you know Jesus or not, whether you’re Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Baptist, atheist, agnostic, fatalistic, narcissistic, whatever.
In many ways I’ve given up and quit. In many ways I’ve never stopped. In many ways I’ll never quit, and in others I may never stop. But this baptism is about rejuvenation and rinsing and beginning again. Into fatherhood. Into Christianity. Into a new version of Marlon that no one has ever seen before, but many are along for the ride (whether they know it or not). This will be a natural, unmedicated water birth.