The column Rob Drieslein’s wife didn’t want you to read in 1999

The author (sporting late-90s era sunglasses) with a respectable lake trout caught during the 1998 Outdoor News lake trout trip to Ontario. He skipped the 1999 fishing jaunt to be present for the birth of his first child.

Editor’s note: These words emerged from my twisted mind 18 years ago. I gave my bride of three years right of first refusal on this “essay” in May 1999, and she nuked it. But the piece remained in my unprinted file for 18 years, and my oldest son Logan’s recent high school graduation struck me as a logical time to reconsider printing it. Three additional kids later, my wife no longer can even remember this piece from the last century. After re-reading, she offered a solid “meh” about whether she minded me running it now. So, here, in all its glory, is my then-29-year-old take on how childbirth compares to fishing.

Rob Drieslein and his “keeper” of a son following his high school graduation earlier this month.

CHILDBIRTH VS. FISHING — The birth of my first child occurred last week, coinciding with the annual Outdoor News ice-out lake trout trip, which I obviously skipped this year. When my co-workers from the office returned from their Canadian journey on Monday, we found ourselves asking the same questions and comparing similar notes.

The first questions my fishing buddies asked following a weekend foray: “How’d you do? Got a big one? Yeah? What’d it weigh? How long?” My remarkable wife, Annette, may beg to differ, but from my perspective, the similarities between childbirth and fishing are striking. We’ll skip the years of trolling before Annette and I met.

The anticipation. Anglers spend weeks preparing for a fishing trip – buying lures, tuning gear, packing bags in advance. By comparison, the baby Drieslein’s room has been prepared for months, we practiced lots of breathing exercises, and the hospital suitcase sat fully loaded by the front door for at least a month.

The fight. You’re on water – or in the hospital – and battling something you can’t see. At one point, just moments before Annette delivered, the otherwise bored supervising doctor chirped up and said, “He’s putting up a pretty good fight.” No kidding.

The first sighting. He breaks the surface. “I see the head,” says one of several nurses. Like a feisty laker, the baby makes a few runs, forcing lots of pushing and grunting (maybe even some splashing) before the doctor can grab him, but the end is approaching.

Got him! The baby emerges, shakes his head a few times, and the doctors and nurses almost in unison cry, “He’s big!” Mom’s exhausted from the battle but adrenaline numbs the pain (OK, a man’s perspective). She admires the beautiful – albeit wet and slimy – tyke in her hands and holds him up for Dad, or anyone else nearby, to admire.

The first question. Boy or girl? (“What’d ya catch?”)

Weight and length. It’s standard operating procedure in the delivery room and in any self-respecting angler’s boat. Record the weight and dig out that tape measure. You’ll etch the numbers in your memory for generations.

Pictures. Around the office, the lake trout pictures change hands nearly as fast as the new baby shots.

Proto-anglers. Babies vaguely resemble grumpy old fishermen at birth – not much hair, fat cheeks, a big red nose, and a sleepy disposition. We spend our whole lives building careers and earning enough money to purchase a boat to return to the tranquil rocking motion of infancy.

This new father missed the annual fishing trip, but laughed at a mild irony when the gang returned. My boy, Robert Logan Drieslein, rang in at 9 pounds, 12 ounces, and 21.5 inches. “He’s bigger than anything we caught,” said Ron Nelson, resident artist and production supervisor here at Outdoor News.

A big difference. A final disparity between fishing and babies: We release most of the lake trout we catch in Canada. But my boy, he’s a keeper!

Categories: Blog Content, Rob Drieslein

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