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Ready or Not, Here Baby Comes

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!?”

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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 something happened.

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 little girl.

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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.

My husband is not so sure.

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