My second chance to be a first time dad

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Late in the Game parenting column, The Toronto Star


I am a bit embarrassed to admit I shed a few tears when a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova upset Serena Williams to win Wimbledon in July 2004.

When she climbed into the stands, seeking out her father and I saw their joyous embrace as he showered her face in kisses, tears welled up in my eyes.

He was bursting with pride for his daughter. She had to immediately share her accomplishment .

This was a moment I would never know.

I don’t mean the spectacular moment of seeing your child win Wimbledon, but any father-daughter moment. Or any father-son moment, for that matter.

I was a childless 38-year-old married man, who’d had a vasectomy eight months earlier. My wife and I had made the decision not to have children and it was the right decision for us.

The emotions that came over me as I sat alone in my living room on a sunny Saturday morning, watching the pretty young Russian with her doting dad, surprised me. I had long before reconciled with the fact that fatherhood was not going to be my fate. I also knew there would be moments of, not regret, but longing, knowing I was missing out on something special. But to have that longing suddenly force its way out from deep inside me caught me off guard.

Soon after there was a commercial and I moved on, tucking those emotions away.

My wife and I decided to separate less than a week after Sharapova won Wimbledon.

There is a lesson there, one I seem destined to keep learning: You can’t plan your life. You have to let it happen.

This thought is with me as I stare at the ultrasound photo of the baby in my new wife’s belly. Then I look at another photo, of the second baby.


Who would have guessed?

Second wife, second baby: I’m 46 years old and about to become a first-time dad. I could become a spokesman for second chances.

I have modern technology — and a lot of good fortune — to thank for that. I met my second wife, Natasha, on an online dating website. Five years after my vasectomy, I had it reversed. Despite the operation, we needed help conceiving, and with much trepidation we chose in vitro fertilization.

IVF is scary. It’s high-stakes gambling where every roll of the dice costs about $15,000. The payout is huge if you win. The losses are devastating if you lose. We are fortunate. IVF worked for us on the first try.

And now we wait and plan. The babies are due in June, but twins usually arrive earlier. Regardless of when they arrive, our lives will change forever.

Parenthood is intimidating. Twins make it doubly so. On brisk mornings, as I bike to work, I’ve asked myself, “What have we done?”

I’m 46, not 36. My wife is 40.

Cycling by Exhibition Place, I see a billboard featuring a dramatic black and white photo of a steely Maria Sharapova holding a watch. I look at it and have my answer. I think of one twin sucking a thumb during a recent ultrasound scan.

I’m already having those moments I thought would never be.

In the coming days, months and years, there will be countless fatherhood moments — proud, funny and troubled.

I invite you to join me as I share these moments in my new column about stumbling into fatherhood, late in the game.