“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around—and why his parents will always wave back.”—William D. Tammeus.
I think some people dive into motherhood knowing what to expect, or at least thinking they know what to expect. And well, I’ll be the first person to admit that I had not a single clue. A lot of people leap into motherhood expectedly, and I think that probably has a lot do with it also.
It didn’t come as easily for me. My pregnancy with Allie was not planned. And to be honest, I was one of those people that claimed I was never having children. As far as I know, I had no intentions of ever doing so.
So when the various symptoms of pregnancy showed up, I didn’t even realize what they were. Which sounds stupid. But believe it or not, to a person not expecting to get pregnant and not expecting to look for the symptoms, they’re not easily recognizable. Boy, I thought to myself, when I was queasy, it sure is odd to get the flu in June. Seriously, who gets the flu in June? And why in the free world did the flu make my boobs swell and ache this time? And why was it making me puke every day?
Later, after contemplating this phantom flu, I realized that my always by the clock period was late. And then it dawned on me.
I was pregnant.
Pregnant? I thought. Surely not. Not me.
To ease my fears and convince myself that I was not in what my grandma had called “the family way”, I ventured to the local K-mart to procure a pregnancy test. I scanned the aisle for what seemed like hours, hoping to find the one that would be negative. At the time, I needed that negative. I couldn’t have a baby, I thought. I had never even held a newborn baby. I had never wanted to hold a baby. They pooped on themselves and expected you to clean it up? How rude is that? A tiny creature that pooped on itself? No thanks.
What was I going to do with a baby? I didn’t even know any lullabies. I mean, sure I remembered some, but I didn’t know all of the words. And I am by far the worst singer on the planet. Would I sing it Red Hot Chili Pepper songs? Would the child appreciate Under the Bridge or Scar Tissue? Would he or she cry when they heard my voice attempting a melody? Because it makes me want to cry sometimes.
After perusing pregnancy tests until my eyes were nearly crossed from reading the details of the pink lines with the altering directions, I finally just picked one. A pee stick was a pee stick, I figured. I paid for it, and I took it home.
My friend A. came over and stayed while I took the test. And believe me, it took a while to convince myself to go take it. Because before I even did the pee-stick maneuver, I just knew. I just had that feeling. Still, I went into the bathroom and began. (Unbeknownst to me, that was the first of many times I would spend in a bathroom peeing on or in some apparatus for a test.)
I remember thinking the whole time, “Please just say no. I know I’m probably pregnant, but you could just say no? I like to plan things. I like to make lists and organize my life. This isn’t planned? Please, please, just let me be in charge of this.”
But when I saw the result, positive as indicated by the lines, my stomach dropped to floor. At first I thought that the test might be wrong, though it was telling me what my body already knew, I hoped it was wrong. But the box had said light pink lines would appear, and mine were the brightest pink I had ever seen. Fluorescent, almost. But I was still shocked. Even when you expect a certain outcome, it’s sometimes still a surprise.
Soon, my surprise turned into a tornado of nausea. Do you know that feeling you get when you’re really nervous? Maybe your hands shake, or maybe your eyes tear up, or maybe you really have to poop, or maybe you feel like you are going to burst out of your skin and run to the nearest looney bin. It w as all of those things in one. It was as if a cyclone of nerves, a combination of those feelings, was whirling around in my body and beckoning my sanity.
I let the news sit for a while. I took a long bath. A looong bath. The longest. Bath. Ever.
I cried for a while. I laughed for a while. I wondered how the Birth Control, which I thought was similar to Alcatraz in security, had failed me, or how I had failed it. I wondered a lot of things. I wondered for so long that I probably contemplated who killed JFK? And how many licks did it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? And who actually liked the color orange? And why? It doesn’t even rhyme with anything. And why me? There were people all over the world hoping and praying for babies. There were women in desperate need of my outrageously flagrant fertility, and why did it have to show off? Did my reproductive system think it was in a talent show? And why was it trying to win? Freaking overachiever.
Then, after loads of contemplation, I was calm.
Somehow, someway, I was calm. And everything became okay. Now, I realize that a sudden state of calm ensuing sounds sort of crazy, but calm always rescues me that way. It just creeps up and crawls over me like a fog. A thick, but well received fog.
You see, maybe I hadn’t been planning on having a baby anytime soon or even ever, but I knew that this was my baby. It was our baby. I knew there was a reason for her being. She was given to me for a reason. It wasn’t just my reproductive system trying to impress the free world.
And after that, my whole view and world changed.
Truthfully, I have been and will always be ever-so grateful to have her in my life. There are nights when I tiptoe into her room to peak in on her sleeping, and she’s so sound and peaceful. So honest. I crawl into her twin bed and lay next to her tiny body, rest my head near her shoulder, run my hands through her curly red hair, and I thank the powers above that she is mine. Ours.
For me, this unexpected gift was the best I’ve ever received. And in the three years, two months, and four days since I pushed Allie into this world, she has been my saving grace, the light at the end of the tunnel.
When she laughs, the world is peaceful, calm, and true. Everything just makes sense.
I have learned more from this tiny soul than I ever have from any other source. I learned how to change diapers, kiss boo-boos, potty train, play in the rain, and hold a baby. I’ve learned to tolerate children’s songs, laugh freely and loudly, and how to deal with a little shadow, a minor mimic of major proportions.
Each stage of her life thus far has been a blessing. Though the latest is my favorite. I’m convinced that if I ever became a hoarder, instead of being a crazy old cat lady, I would just hoard potty-trained three year olds and talk to them all day. Listen to the things they came up with and laugh loudly and joyously with them.
Maybe I didn’t plan to be a mother, but I am. I love it. And I’m damn good at it.