Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Musings: How do you know?

How do you know when you're ready to have a baby? Can anyone answer this question?

A few years ago, I thought I was ready. I went and got a check up, I mentally got super excited, but then, we didn't really ever get around to trying. After that, life got a little less predictable. With a fledgling company, a move across country, two new jobs, and bills, bills, bills, my mother-in-law put it best: "There is no 'right time' to have a baby, but last year would have definitely been the wrong time." I couldn't agree with her more. But, aside from the practical constraints of the last few years, there are emotional ones. For the first time ever, J. and I live in the same place, without anyone else living with us, we both have job stability, we are both happy and fulfilled, and we live in a really cool (one of the coolest) cities in the US. While that sounds like a perfect recipe for  a baby to enter the scene, there is still a selfish little part of me that loves just being us. I like spontaneously deciding to stay out late because we can. I love waking up at ten on Sunday morning and reclining on the couch for a few hours before I get motivated to do anything. I love taking off on trips without toting a pack-n-play. I love it. And I also am starting to feel like I could love all those other things just as much. I would love waking up to the smell of a baby's skin, and watching her laugh for the first time, and feeling someone grow inside me.

We've had this conversation where J. thinks that maybe I am feeling ultra ready because everyone we know seems to be having children. We are in this strange position to have been one of the first couples amongst our friends to get married, but when it comes to children, others went for it right away, whereas we decided to wait. I have to say that I'm grateful for that. We've done a lot of growing in the last four and a half years, both as a couple and as individuals. When we got married we were in no place to have a baby. But, things change. And I'm not so sure that the fact that other people are pregnant is what has changed in me.

I've always known I wanted children and lots of them. I also thought that I would hit an age where I would have this physical urge to be a mother. I kind of think I know what that's about, but there is also this very logical fear about what parenthood means. I live 3,000 miles away from my family. I am the one with the health insurance. I live in one of the most expensive (yeah-that's why it's so cool) cities in the country. I am not sure that I can afford not to work. I can't fly home for Christmas if I get pregnant at the wrong time. All of these thoughts swirl around my head at the same time as fantasies about the fierce love, and gratitude, and deep joy that I imagine comes with having a child.

Embarking on a journey that can't help but change your life in the most fundamental way forever is a scary step to take. My dad said that when my mom went into labor with me (I was their first child, and they were married seven years before they got pregnant) they cried because it was the end of the beautiful life they'd had together. But, when I was born, my father said, he couldn't imagine what they had done without me. He described experiencing an overwhelming feeling of love that was more than he could have imagined. And I completely believe my dad because I've watched a few of my girlfriends become mothers in the last year. My dear friend just had a stunning, red-headed baby girl this past Friday, and I can tell that she is already hopelessly, madly in love with her. But, she seemed so prepared to me. She had read all the books, she had made financial spreadsheets, she even got her car seat installed at the police station to guarantee that it was done properly. I knew she was more than ready to be a mom, and I have no doubt that she will be spectacular at it. But will I?

How do you know? How can you know? I suppose the answer is that you don't and you can't. This is one of those moments when all the thinking in the world isn't going to give me the answer because maybe this is one of those questions of faith.

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