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The Art of Introduction

I'm about to become a dad. Again. My wife is about to give birth to our second child, and it could happen any day. It could be happening right now.

While the birth is imminent, and our nine months are almost up, it's only been in the last couple of weeks that this pregnancy has come alive for me. Not that I wasn't excited or paying attention for the past 8.5 months, but now that we're on the verge of seeing our latest creation greet us and the world, the focus has definitely intensified.

With our first pregnancy, my wife and I were like any first-time expectant parents. We were eager and full of excitement, consumed with not only my wife's ever-expanding belly, but also with the ever-expanding list of things we wanted to get done before our daughter's arrival. We had to clean the house, prepare the baby's room, set up the crib, buy diapers, buy onesies, find a car seat, get a stroller, and on and on. My wife went through a definite nesting phase—which is apparently quite common—and as a result I was tasked with all sorts of demanding, if insane, jobs. One day, while taking a break and resting on the couch, my wife calls to me and says that I need to get up on the roof and clean the skylight. I walk into the living room, look down at her stretched out on the couch, and follow her gaze upwards past the white-speckled ceiling, through the dusty, spider-webbed window into the azure skies above.

"Looks pretty good to me," I said positively, not taking my eyes off the white clouds now floating past our living room. "It's gross, Paul," is all she said in reply.

With this pregnancy, we are both much more relaxed and our expectations have been adjusted. And also, there's really just less to do. We've done some cleaning—that skylight, which I never did touch in round one, could really use a good scrub—and we've organized a few things, but otherwise the crib is already set up and our diaper stock rivals Wal-Mart's.

But there is one big difference from this pregnancy to our previous one, a difference that overshadows everything else: our daughter. Barely 18-months old, she requires a lot of attention—and even if she didn't require so much of it, we'd be hard-pressed not to give it to her anyway—which means our focus is elsewhere. While baby #2 has been growing within my wife, baby #1 has been growing and experiencing important milestones, naturally consuming a fair chunk of our daily lives. Her first steps, for example, were taken against the backdrop of her mother's pregnant belly. These moments, forever frozen in time in our photographic records, hint at our impending parental challenge of equitably dividing attention among our kids. And, I can't help but think, represent perhaps the earliest beginnings of sibling rivalry.

With only days to go, our first daughter still consumes our days—and sometimes our nights—but the excitement of meeting our second daughter has reached new heights. It's all suddenly become very real and immediate, and I can't wait to share my life with this new person. I'm looking forward to introducing her to family, friends and the world. But before she meets all those people, before she gets caught up in the waves of affection and attention, she will meet her big sister. And that's an introduction I can't wait to make.

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