Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t help himself.
When he heard his unborn daughter’s heartbeat for the first time, Earnhardt responded with an instinctive, spontaneous laugh of pure joy.
“It’s not like a funny ‘ha-ha’ laugh,” Earnhardt said before final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway Saturday. “It’s more like something just comes out. I’d play it for you. You just burst out like joy. It wasn’t ‘ha-ha’ funny. It was just a joyful moment.
“Somebody says your wife is pregnant, that registers a little bit. But man, when you hear that heartbeat it’s like ‘Yep, it’s real. This is a real thing in there and it’s here. This is happening.’ So, just all this emotion just pops out.”
Earnhardt learned in August that wife Amy was pregnant with the couple’s first child, but didn’t make the news public until last Monday. Nevertheless, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet recalls being consumed with anticipation while waiting for confirmation of the pregnancy.
“We went for a checkup, and Amy took a couple of tests, and the tests were saying she’s pregnant,” Earnhardt recounted. “We went to the doctor, and I’m still thinking, ‘Man, I’m not believing crap until this doctor tells me. So we’re sitting in there for like 20 minutes. And they’re talking woman language, and I’m not understanding.
“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 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.”