What to Expect When Ya'll are Expecting

Updated: Jan 17

Growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, it was understood (at least in my family) that all new parents undergo a cultural rite of passage which often begins long before they've even conceived a child.

Part 1: The Family Wives' Tale

Within moments of a new exchange of wedding vows, Southern families will allege that a "sixth sense" has again awakened within the females of the bloodline allowing them to predict when a relative is pregnant.

For instance, on my mom's side, the ancestral gift is dreaming about fish and having excessive heartburn. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Notably, neither of these are confirmable through any scientific discipline in existence, and in reality, it's a ruse to "encourage" young couples in the family to spill the tea.

Molly and I eventually came to terms with the fact that Aunt Pricilla's leftover gas station burrito could very well prompt an interrogation around our reproductive habits at the next reunion.

Part 2: The Gender Predictions

This phase only lasts for the first few months of pregnancy, but rest assured that in those months a steady stream of misinformation will flow, not relenting until someone produces a high-quality ultrasound image of a penis (or lack thereof).

A few personal examples:

"What's the heartrate? Low heartrate means boy!"

"A girl will sit high and steal mama's beauty!"

"If there was frost on the fields when you fertilized, it's a boy."

I even had a friend suggest that sprinkling baking soda after Molly used the restroom to see if it "fizzles" would "100% confirm" the baby's gender.

Because nothing says medical accuracy like recreating my 3rd grade science fair project in the toilet.

Part 3: The Birthday

Upon the birth of a child, a Southern family will seek to accomplish two things as quickly as possible:

  1. Take a multi-generational picture with all relatives in frame arranged chronologically.

  2. Definitively prove that the baby's genetic makeup is exclusive to their lineage.

The latter is accomplished through a process I refer to as "Pillaging the Archives" where everyone races to find a picture of a distant relative with facial features most comparable to your child‘s.

For example, you may be assured that a faded Polaroid with an almost-transparent image of Cousin Mabel who died from Polio in the 1940s is obviously where your minutes-old newborn gets their looks.

But only moments later, someone may recover a profile of your 6x great Uncle Jasper chiseled into a piece of tree bark during the Civil War effectively dethroning Cousin Mabel and her high cheekbones.

As commentary continues, you and your exhausted spouse will nod in confusion until a victor is declared and it is decided that the angel in your arms bears an uncanny resemblance to a disfigured pine shaving.

Part 4: The Everything After

From experience, this is most extensive phase of child-rearing in my family.

Also from experience? It's the absolute best.

In the timeless words of Randy Travis, my family's love for our boys stretches "deeper than the holler" and has blossomed so beautifully as they've grown.

They've rallied around us as we await the arrival of our little girl, and I know her story will be no different.

Through the quirks and chaos of being raised in the South, the presence and protection of my family is honestly the one thing I've never had to question.

From fish dreams to reality, I wouldn't have it any other way.

[Pictured: Generation photos circa 2015.]

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