Three Words That Change Everything


What is the one simple phrase that leads to new goals, prompts a flood of new decisions, and derails even the best-made plans?

There are phrases that cause some men to shudder:

  • "Bacon shortage"
  • "Craft fair"
  • "NFL on strike"
  • "I'd like another cat"

Scary, yes. But none of those have the power to turn a man's world upside down like these three little words: "My water broke."

When you hear that phrase uttered by your wife, it's game on. The accelerator of life is pressed hard, and a domino effect begins of which you have little control. Destination: Daddyhood.


I recently heard that exact phrase. I knew it was coming (clue No. 1: pregnant wife), but I didn't expect it at 12:45 a.m., after one hour of sleep, while we were staying in a friend's guest room, with our 3-year-old, while all of our belongings were in two rental trucks, with plans in place to move into a new house a few hours later.

Once again, "My water broke" is a phrase to be reckoned with.

So off my wife and I raced, bleary-eyed and stunned, to the hospital. She was having contractions while my brain was having contractions. We laughed (sort of) about the absurdity of it all.

Now what?

We had no idea who would take care of our toddler.

People were going to show up to help us move—and we wouldn't even be there.

I had moving vans to return, a full day of activities to coordinate, vendors like locksmiths scheduled to drop by the new address...

But again, those three words.

Sitting on a chair in my oversized hospital scrubs, I was still gridlocked with logistics, thinking of everything that needed to get done and wondering how it ever would now. I went to bed a couple hours earlier psyched up and ready for lifting furniture, hoisting boxes, getting sweaty and dirty. A marathon awaited.

I tried pushing those thoughts out of the way, prepping my heart and mind to care for my wife and celebrate a newborn. I remember thinking, "I'm not ready for 'dad mode' yet. This was supposed to happen next week!"

A new to-do list.

By 2:30 a.m. I was holding a baby boy. My mind was still handling a slew of logistics, but they had all changed. I was now focused on talking to nurses, filling out paperwork and tracking wet diapers. My revised activities included posting photos and swaddling.

Those three words change everything—and it doesn't stop when you leave the hospital. "My water broke" changes your budget, your priorities, your sex life, your sleep schedule, your weekends, the number of times you clean up spills and talk with your wife about poop. That one simple phrase leads to new goals, prompts a flood of new decisions and derails even the best-made plans—including those meticulously designed to get you unloaded and unpacked before the new baby arrives.

But ask most any dad, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

So much for my moving day. Thanks to the selflessness of family and friends, we managed to get everything into our new place, all while my wife and I were in the hospital. In the end, I think I got the good end of the deal. Thanks to three little words, the only cargo I ended up lifting weighed seven pounds, two ounces.

Contributed by Patrick Dunn

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