[Lettering by Juliana Moore.]
I think the only right way to open this conversation is to say how deeply and completely I love our daughter. Lest anyone should come at this thinking that I’m being flippant or ungrateful, I assure you nothing could be farther from the truth. I have friends who are struggling to get pregnant. I have friends who have lost babies to miscarriage and pre-term labor. I have friends who struggled with infertility and years of IVF until their bodies gave up and begged for no more. I have friends and family who have lost children, including my own parents who buried my brother. I’m not making light of any of those situations and my heart breaks in each and every case. I am fully aware of how lucky I am that I seemingly got pregnant so easily and had a pretty incredible pregnancy without even so much as a lick of morning sickness. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to wake up every day to a remarkably beautiful, inquisitive, happy little baby who lights up every damn moment like the 4th of July. All of that said, I never planned to have a baby. Ever. And no matter how much I searched, I couldn’t find anyone talking openly from a position like mine when I discovered I was pregnant, so I’ve decided to go out on a limb and be that person.
p.s. I am writing this post because recently we talked about divorce, and I think we all agreed we should talk about these real life things more often. So, here goes nothing.
Point blank, no one talks about this stuff because the fear of ridicule or judgement is absolutely real, so I ask you not to judge me because I didn’t want a baby. I very much want my baby and I’m so glad that my plans got washed down the drain. I am very much grateful that one round of Z-Pak rendered my birth control null and void, and that I spent the next ten months growing the most perfect little human I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s shocking just how much I love this little girl of ours. But, no. I was never planning to get pregnant and I was never going to change my mind. Ever. Even now, on the other side of pregnancy and as the head-over-heels mommy of one amazing baby girl, I still know fully and completely, without a moment’s hesitation, that I would have never changed my mind. No, I would not have woken up decades from now with regrets. Because that’s what everyone tells you, you know. “Oh, you’ll change your mind,” they say. Only they’d been telling me that for nearly 15 years and I hadn’t changed my mind. You see, some people don’t change their minds. And that’s ok. Not wanting to birth a child does not a monster make. If you’re reading this and you don’t plan to have a baby, it’s ok. I still think you’re an awesome person.
If you ever want to know precisely how you feel about being pregnant, take a pregnancy test. It’s that simple. If you’re on the fence or subconsciously feeling differently than you think, you’ll know the instant you see the results. One pink line. Two pink lines. Yes or no. Plus or minus. Your reaction will be instantaneous. Relief washing over you like a tidal wave. Joy consuming every cell of your body. Or, in my case, something that most closely resembled a funnel cloud comprised entirely of shock, terror and nausea. A funnel cloud that knocked the wind out of my lungs, blasted my knees out from underneath me and left me reeling. So I did what any reasonable person would do. I left that damn plastic stick on the sink and I spent the rest of the afternoon furiously working at a record pace, trying to redirect my brain as quickly as I could. Until finally I walked back into the bathroom hours later and there it was. Still there. Still saying, “Yes. Yes, you are having a baby.”
At this juncture I could tell you about how I called my mother. About how I made her leave work early to listen to me cry hysterically. I could tell you about how I told no one else for over a week. No one. Including Bob. I was terrified and that terror pretty quickly turned to paralysis. I didn’t know how to rework our lives with a baby in the midst. Our house wasn’t large enough. Would we have enough money for another baby? We had so many plans and none of them involved a tiny little baby joining the family. I was also disgusted with myself. Why couldn’t I just be happy? Why was I a puddle of anxiety, sobbing for hours a day? Why couldn’t I have just jumped up and down with glee? I could tell you all of that. I could tell you way more than that. But I won’t. What I will tell you is that those two pink lines, those two tiny watery pink lines, tilted my world and set it on an entirely new axis.
What I will tell you is that if you, like me, aren’t planning to have a baby (not just “not right now,” but “nope, never,”) and you find yourself pregnant, you will be ok. Even if at first, you really really aren’t ok. Even if at first you’re overcome with guilt because you’re so not ok. As of Friday, our baby girl turned ten months old and every day I find myself in awe of her as she grows and learns. The way she giggles with glee when one of her favorite people walks into the room. The way she waves at everyone and makes old ladies stop and chat with us at length at the grocery store. She has transformed not just my life, but our entire family’s life, completely 1000% for the better. Even now a few times a week I’ll stop and stare at her, or I’ll snuggle her tight as she has her last bottle before bed, and I’ll cry. I am, without any shame, that sappy mom. I cry because I can’t believe how much joy she has brought to so many lives. I cry because I’m still pretty sure I don’t deserve her. I cry because I hope I can do right by her and raise her to be a really damn good human.
Someone told me that I shouldn’t write this post. That I shouldn’t have any kind of record that she could someday possibly find speaking about how she wasn’t planned, speaking about how hard it was for me when I first found out I was pregnant. I was pretty adamant that I would write these things though. If anything, these things are a testament to the power of one little girl to change a whole lot of hearts, seemingly overnight. But more importantly, they’re a testament to the truth. I will never lie and tell her that she wasn’t a surprise. I will always tell her the truth. That she is loved immensely, that she categorically changed our lives in ways we never dreamed possible, that she was the missing link in our family circle we never knew we needed. Today I share these things with you, because I have always believed (as I’ve mentioned before), that life has a way of course correcting and getting us to the exact place we are supposed to be, with the exact people with whom we are intended to share our time. Whatever your family looks like, however it is comprised, however it comes to be, you will know unspeakable joy by simply loving the ones you’re lucky enough to call your own.
Our is a wildly modern family. There’s Bob and I. His four “big kids” as we refer to them affectionately. One crazy old black lab who grows slower by the day. One ten month old baby who makes us all laugh endlessly. We have a huge assortment of parents, siblings, stepparents, nieces and nephews. A close circle of friends who are every bit of family to us as those with whom we share blood. A new neighborhood full of neighbors who so quickly became irreplaceable friends that we are reminded every day we very literally won the neighbor lotto. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I will say it again a million times before my days are done. I never dreamed I’d be here in this place in every sense of the phrase. When I look at how our lives have unfolded over even just the last eighteen months since we discovered we were pregnant, I assure you I never imagined where the journey was going to take us. Sometimes, you aren’t planning to have a baby. But then you see those two pink lines. You cry until you can’t cry anymore. And then you just let go and let be. Sometimes you aren’t planning to have a baby, but a baby is planning for you to her mommy. And I can’t think of any greater thing in the world.
[Newborn photos by Alice G. Patterson.]