KANSAS CITY, Kan. — As NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver and the sport’s all-around biggest superstar, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is typically enthusiastic and quite comfortable discussing his place in the sport heading into his retirement at season’s end.
However, his demeanor noticeably changed some Saturday morning at Kansas Speedway. Listening to him speak about his wife Amy’s recently announced pregnancy was both moving and memorable.
He bowed his head for several moments to collect his thoughts when asked about the fantastic news he and his wife Amy would be welcoming their first child, a daughter, come May 2.
“We’ve known since actually August and oh man, it’s just been really hard keeping that in and wanting to share,” Earnhardt said smiling.
“I just couldn’t wait to tell everybody. … We have a lot of check-ups and we’re thankful and I’m looking forward to the whole process of watching and being involved.
“I’m just trying to be as supportive as I can for Amy, making sure she feels well and is comfortable. I’m trying to soak in all the experiences of going to the doctor and hearing the heartbeat. They are incredible.”
PHOTOS: Dale and Amy through the years
At one point Earnhardt, 43, pulled out his cellphone to try to play the audio recording he keeps of the baby’s heartbeat.
“I mean it made it more real,” he said grinning. “We are pinching ourselves even still. We look at each other if we’re sitting on the couch or walking around the house or something and just have to remind ourselves we’re going through this pregnancy and we just can’t believe it.
“So, anytime you hear the heartbeat or go to an ultrasound or something like that, it makes it like ‘Hey, it’s happening.’ You get a little scared. You get excited, you know?”
And he animatedly recalled that first doctor’s visit to confirm that Amy was pregnant. She had taken some at-home pregnancy tests, but Earnhardt joked that he wasn’t gonna believe the news until he heard it from the doctor.
“We went to the doctor and I’m still thinking man, I’m not believing crap until this doctor tells me,” he said smiling. “So, we’re sitting in there for like 20 minutes. And their talking woman language and I’m not understanding (laughter). They are just talking about things and I’m like well, when is she going to say it? I want to hear it from the doctor’s mouth (laughs) that she’s pregnant, so we can rejoice.
“It took them a while. I was scared to speak up. Finally, they said something that confirmed it for me and I was like, ‘Awesome.’
“And then we had the ultrasound and got to hear the heartbeat and all that right there, and that was great. We go back for another checkup here soon, in a couple of days, and those are awesome.
“They are so much fun because it’s like the closest you can get to it before they’re born and I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.”
And he spoke at length about the efforts he’s made to keep Amy comfortable and happy during the pregnancy. From letting her rest to keeping her company to sharing in the happiness and big plans, Earnhardt seems to be living in the most happy of moments.
“Everybody says obviously, to try to get your sleep now because the first several months are very difficult, but we can’t,” Earnhardt said. “We’re lying in bed and can’t sleep. We’re so excited.
“You can read books and I’ve got an app on my phone and am trying to get as much information as I can to understand how to make Amy as comfortable as I can.
“I think some of the most helpful advice for me is probably what can I do to make it easier for Amy. And the advice that I’ve gotten is that she doesn’t care what you did that day. She doesn’t care how your day was (laughs). So, don’t try to tell her. If you had a rough day or whatever, just shelve it and try to keep on being an assistant to whatever she needs at all times.
“And that’s pretty easy to remember because I feel that way already about her.”