I have wanted to have a baby for the better part of the last ten years, but there was always something in the way. The timing just wasn’t right. The partner just wasn’t right. I just wasn’t right.
Then, I finally met the man that made me feel like I was finally at home. The problem was that he wasn’t ready—not that that would stop me from trying. Three years my junior and not yet married to me, Walter’s career as an attorney has always made him an effective communicator (read: good at arguing), but I’m a words person, so I made many emotional appeals.
Pleading For Pregnancy
I cried to him that I did not want to be an old mom. This started around the time I turned 30. “But, my own mom was 30 when she had me—and she waited!” I pled. “It was the ‘80s and she was the last person in her friend group to have kids!”
I cried that biology was a cruel mistress. “You don’t understand! You’ll be able to have children well into your 70’s because nature is unfair and cruel, and all my eggs are dying. Hear that? I just heard one die!”
I cried that my life would be complete if only I could have a sweet baby. “Please, let’s have a baby! It’s the missing piece – it’s the last bit of the puzzle to having everything be exactly the way I’ve always imagined it would be.”
I should note that logically, this was not a good time for us to have a baby. We were living together in a two-bedroom condo that scarcely had room for both of us, much less a baby. His career was taking off, and I had just been promoted to a management role. We were not married; this was one of his big talking points against having a baby. I, meanwhile, envisioned myself as a beautiful bride donning a HUGE pregnant belly with a very boho, empire waist wedding dress to accommodate the growing life inside of me.
I should also mention that I am not the most logical being. Aware that my emotional appeals were not working, I asserted that we should stop using protection. My appeals turned from emotional to absurdist, such as the following:
- “But you can’t get pregnant on Sundays! Everyone knows that!”
- “But you can’t get pregnant if you have sex at your parents’ house! Everyone knows that!”
- “But you can’t get pregnant if you do it in the daytime!”
As you might expect, none of this ever worked.
Married At Last
Cut to three years later, and we had a pandemic wedding. “Pandemic wedding” meaning that we had the necessary paperwork notarized at the UPS Store on Greensprings next to Publix. I wore a short, white dress from Amazon that cost $24, and we both wore heavy face masks while the notary did his thing, so we didn’t kiss on it until we stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the UPS Store. It was Cinco De Mayo 2020, and we ordered a bunch of chips, cheese dip, salsa, and pandemic pre-mixed margaritas from Little Donkey. We celebrated with a handful of close friends on our back deck. We were finally married! It was weird and perfect all at once.
Getting The Timing Right
By early October it had happened. Now that we were married and in a house we owned with plenty of space for a baby, he acquiesced. I didn’t even have to make up a line about how you can’t get pregnant on an Alabama game day! Finally, I was knocked up and more excited than I had ever been about anything in my entire life.
My pregnancy was a dream! I slept well most of the time and never had back pain, morning sickness, or weird cravings. I was able to work-out without having to modify much of anything. My hair was super thick and shiny. Other than a growing bump and going without my beloved glass of red wine at dinner, I felt pretty normal. Walter was the most amazing partner through every day of those nine-ish months. He assuaged my fears about whether or not I’d be a good mom. Every single night before I went to sleep, he fixed me a bowl of fruit. He washed my hair after long, stressful days at work and always listened to the concerns I had about bringing a child into the world. There was a lot of assuring and a lot of promising that we’d always find a way to keep her safe, whatever it took.
Finally, My Baby
When it came time to finally bring her into the world, I had a rock-star partner in the delivery room. My husband made me feel strong and ready. Walter let me cling to him but kept reminding me of my power. He did not hide his sense of awe for what my body was capable of doing during labor. He was the first to recount the story to our loved ones about how I had told our doctor to “not get too comfortable. You won’t be here long,” because I had never been more in tune with my own body. He was the first to regale anyone who would listen with how I had physically pulled our baby out of myself. After years of envisioning that I would NEVER allow my partner to see the big show that is a crowning baby head, he was right there—letting me lean against him with every push and flex; he watched the whole thing go down because it wasn’t gross to him. It was amazing. He thought I was amazing.
Walter was proud of me every step of the slog that is pregnancy. He encouraged me through every hour spent in the hospital. Now, he’s the force that balances and enhances every aspect of our life as a family of three.
What It Feels Like When The Wait Is Worth It
Now that Edie is the star of the show, it’s clear to me that the timing had to be what it was in order for everything to be truly right. We don’t have to store her in a drawer because we have ample space for her in our current home. I have seemingly infinite patience for deciphering her cries. She goes crazy when she wets herself, and I don’t mind changing all those diapers to make her a bit more comfortable. I didn’t even mind all that much when we were in the early days of waking up in the early morning hours to feed and change her. After all, the sleepless nights had a real purpose. We had someone—our baby—to soothe.
Marriage After Baby
Marriage is hard, and having a baby makes it even harder. There were times in those initial weeks when we arrived home from the hospital that I felt so disconnected from Walter. Being dramatic (as many writers are), I surmised that things would never get better, and that my marriage would snuff out because I did not have the energy to feed its flames. I would stand in the ashes of all those days my husband was so proud of me and so in awe of what I could do with only my baby in my arms left to show for it. She had become my everything in an instant. Those hours in the delivery room when Walter had held my hand and I had clung to him for dear life felt like they had happened in a lifetime prior.
Walter never wavered. He let me talk through my fears about what I was becoming now that I had stepped into motherhood. When I told him that I felt like I had shed all other roles I previously played within our home—wife, girlfriend, partner, lover—he told me he would wait for me. And he did. He waited for me to figure out how to make space for him and our daughter. In the meantime, he fixed bottles, he changed diapers, he read stories, and he made up songs. He did all the things that I did (though he was much more organized in the process). He trusted my instincts.
Becoming Myself Again
Then one day, after four weeks of feeling like a different person and like there would never be room in my heart to reinstate the love I had for my husband, suddenly there just was. Unlike many life-altering experiences, this shift had happened so gradually that I just looked at him while our baby lay on his chest in our living room and thought, “Man, he loves this baby. He loves this baby, and he loves me too. He loves me so much that he suffers through these mustard-colored living room walls because even though he hates them, he knows I love them. And I love him for it.” Just like that, we were back. I was back, and I knew I was home.
I don’t know what life would’ve been like had I had a baby during the time I was begging to be impregnated by my not-yet-husband. What I do know is that baby would not have been this baby. That life would not have been this one. I think my patience would have been much more limited then, and I am nearly certain that weathering those weeks of disconnection would’ve been so much harder. They may have even been impossible. I don’t know what the future holds, but I feel a deep sense of faith in the fact that I am exactly where I need to be right now. For that, I am infinitely grateful. So, I guess I have to admit that I’m glad Walter never bought my lines about how you can’t get pregnant on Sundays.