New Beginnings with Ryan Beardsley

It was July 9 – my wife’s birthday, and a day I will never forget.

After leaving work and battling heavier-than-normal rush hour traffic, I needed to stop at the grocery store to pick up a birthday cake and card for my wife. (I always was a procrastinator.)

With these delays, I was running late and became quite anxious at getting home to spend a nice evening with the birthday girl. The grocery store is only a few minutes from my house, but I remember that the ride home seemed like an eternity as I caught every red traffic light along the way and at least six Philadelphia residents trying to parallel park in the narrow city streets.

I kept thinking I needed to get that ice cream cake home before it started to melt all over my car. This was a silly anxiety, of course; anybody who has ever bought an ice cream cake knows they are typically rock solid and need to sit out a bit before cutting anyway.

When I did finally walk through the door and started my ascent to the second level, I began a horribly out-of-tune version of “Happy Birthday To You.”

It wasn’t until I got to the top of the stairs and came around the corner that I saw my wife sitting there. Heather was at our kitchen bar, already in her pajamas for the evening.

She looked at me with a nervous smile – something was different tonight. Her complexion was white as a ghost, and she seemed to have a bit of the shakes.

I put the cake down and asked the simple question any concerned husband would ask: “What’s wrong?”

Heather got up slowly and walked toward me. As she got closer, I could see a certain amount of fear swimming in her eyes.

“I think there’s something I should tell you.”

In moments like these, your mind tends to run through a rush of irrational thoughts in a split second. Uh oh, she’s divorcing me. Is there another man? I’ll start doing more loads of laundry, I swear!

Suddenly, before she could even get out the words, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

My wife was pregnant.

Not wanting to take the moment from her, I encouraged her to go ahead and tell me what she needed to tell me, already preparing the biggest hug I could muster without crushing her little frame.

My wife is never one to beat around the bush. “Well, I think I’m pregnant.”

Although I was somewhat prepared for the words, I still found myself dumbfounded and speechless. I hugged her and asked her the first thing that came to mind.

“It’s mine, right?”

That was all it took to break the tension and get her laughing, albeit shedding a few tears at the same time.

The rest of the night was a little haphazard from there. There was a trip to the drug store to pick up another pregnancy test, just to make sure. Yup, definitely pregnant.

There was a second trip back to the same drug store about a half hour later to pick up prenatal vitamins. The same clerk checked me out both times, developing a sly smile the second time around. “Don’t come back for the formula and diapers tonight – you’ve got time,” she said. “Congratulations, by the way.”

We ate ice cream cake for dinner. Neither of our nervous stomachs could handle anything else. We laid awake most of the night (maybe partly from the sugar rush), tossing and turning with excitement as we tried to come to terms with the idea that we were going to have a baby. You asleep yet? Nope. Me neither.

Just for the record, this wasn’t a complete surprise for us or an “oops” moment. We had plans in mind, but we were anticipating things taking a few months. Nature can be a prankster that way.

As I sit here and write this almost two months later, I still get butterflies thinking about that night. I knew I wanted to be a dad someday, I just couldn’t believe it was less than nine months down the road.

Despite our 24-hour panic attack, we quickly got our lives together and began some initial plans for March 2014.

Life will change forever then. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, is a former Sun-Gazette reporter. His column is published on the third Sunday of each month. He may be reached at