After my then-boyfriend (now-husband) Ryan and I graduated
from college, he was offered a job that would involve him working overnight: from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m. It was a temporary
position, one that was expected to light the way along his chosen career path
as a trader. He would be working days in
no time at all, he was assured, 18 months maximum. He accepted.
I, on the other hand, continued to work normal office
hours. Which meant by the time I got
home (yes we were cohabiting at the time, SURPRISE GRANDMA!) he had already
left for work. I was lonely.
“I think we should probably have a baby,” I told him about
six weeks into our having completely opposite schedules. “I mean, we’re not getting any younger, and I
could really use some company.” He just
laughed. “Lauren, we’re 22 and not
married and not engaged and not even thinking about getting engaged.” And just like that the subject was changed
because what did he mean “not even thinking about getting engaged!?”
But it was an idea I brought up again and again as the
months, then years went by, and we did eventually get engaged and became man
and wife and all that. I thought I was
ready. I’ve always thought I was ready since I was a little girl. My Barbies
did not get married, they got pregnant. (Via immaculate conception of course, I was 7 and we didn’t even own
a Ken doll.)
My husband though knew he was not ready. So I waited, as one does. Sometimes I even waited patiently. We adopted one dog and then another dog, and
then we had a policy in which I was not allowed to bring home any more dogs. Eventually having or not having a baby became
a point of contention in our otherwise happy household. I was 29, and starting a family had become the
only thing I thought about. Then
When my daughter was born, all of my careful and neurotic planning went out the window.
“What is it! What happened?” My husband half-shouted as he
ran into my room in the ER. “It looks
like I have a burst ovarian cyst.” I responded. “My biological clock has begun ticking so quickly that parts of me are
actually starting to explode.”
The doctors were quick to explain away my theory and assure
my husband that my “spleen wasn’t next” as I insisted from a drug-filled haze
in my butt-baring hospital gown.
They did concede though that a history of these sorts of cysts
could suggest we might have a difficulty conceiving a baby. And just like that my husband was ready.
Which was good, because before we knew it, we got lucky
(literally and figuratively) and I was pregnant. As I said, I had felt ready to have this baby
for quite a long time, but now with her actually on the way, I set out to make
myself prepared. I read every book that
I could get my hands on that was concerned with pregnancy or newborns. I obsessively created a master list of things
we absolutely had to have for the nursery. I forced my little sister to come over and stencil the nursery. I relearned the words to familiar nursery
rhymes and watched YouTube videos on swaddling, then chased the dogs with
blankets. I signed Ryan and I up for
every class offered at our hospital and one that was only offered at another
hospital with the promise that we would not have to stay for the tour. Then I made him stay for the tour just in
case our first choice hospital lost power or something. I shaved my legs.
And then I was like, “Bring it baby. I am ready.”
I was SO not ready.
Having this tiny creature in my and my husband’s care alone changed everything.
When my daughter was born, all of my careful and neurotic
planning went out the window. The
carefully folded stacks of burp cloths were disregarded in favor of the biggest
towels we had since I had a baby that never stopped spitting up. (A “happy spitter” the doctor assured
me.) The bassinet went unused as we
found our newborn could not sleep through my husband’s tossing and turning, and
instead I spent 10 weeks doing what passed as sleeping in my glider in the
nursery as the hair slowly grew back on my legs.
Suddenly the lactation consultant whose class
had seemed so helpful and interesting had not taught us enough, and I flooded
her voicemail with breastfeeding questions. “Hi Nikki, it’s Lauren Gallagher again, I’m concerned my baby is not
getting enough milk at her feedings, also I think I’m having problems with
oversupply, call me back when you get a chance! Thank You!”
And the nursery stencil that my sister had
put so much effort into? The baby did
not even notice it.
Having this tiny creature in my and my husband’s care alone
changed everything (because DUH, OF COURSE IT DID), and I don’t know that there
was any way I could have truly been ready for it, for the constant “Am I doing
this right?” questioning that came with the overwhelming love I felt for my
These days as I navigate the waters of motherhood with my
almost 8-month-old, I’m happily feeling a little vetted, though I still have
moments where I freak out. (Like last
night when I was sure the baby was too cold with the fan on in her room but too
hot without it. My husband unhelpfully suggested I stand at her crib all night
and gently blow on her.) Generally
though I’m feeling very ready for what the future will bring.
So much so, that, I think I’m just about ready for another baby.