My race began...
when I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test. It was not the first pregnancy test I’d taken that day. It was the third or fourth. But it wasn’t until I saw a few of the straight little pink lines, all in a row, results unchanging, that I realized that this was real. My husband and I looked at each other, goofy grins on our faces, and I thought, Okay, this is when we get our shit together.
Because we did not have our shit together. My husband wasn’t finished with his training for his job. We were enrolled in the bottom-of-the-barrel health insurance plan for people who haven’t been to the doctor since 2007 (we thought—we weren’t even sure—sadly, we were right). Our student loan debt exceeded our yearly income. We lived in a fourth-floor walkup. Sometimes we ate dinner on our wedding china; other times we ate on the floor. Life was good, very, very, very good. But my parents seemed totally together and infallible when I was a kid. We were not that.
It must be said—while we were overwhelmed—we were also very, very, very happy. And grateful. And amazed! It doesn’t seem quite possible that such a thing—being entrusted with another tiny human life—could happen to you until… it does happen.
Before we tackled any of the questions swirling around in our heads, we attended the wedding we were in the middle of dressing for when we accepted the final pregnancy test as truth. Our baby was a marvelous little secret to keep between us. My husband and I shared secret glances over many slices of cake. Truly, everyone should have a slice of wedding cake and a pop of champagne before a race begins in earnest.
We flew back to New York from the wedding—and then the race toward the due date truly began. We set up the doctor’s appointments and sorted out the health insurance (this was actually a lot harder than it sounds!). We realized that if we weren’t going to figure out the details of our lives for ourselves, that we needed to figure them out for our child. Every day, there was a new question to consider. Did we have parental leave? How would we fit a crib in our apartment? How quickly could we paint all of the rooms in our apartment pink? And how on earth did Enfamil already know we were having a baby to send us free samples of formula???
The months went by, first in a fever dream exhaustion haze, then while throwing up on the subway, and then in the cool fall months when my winter coat wouldn’t close over my belly. We raced around New York and in our lives to get ready. Grandmothers smocked. Grandfathers sent text messages about flying up to visit before the baby came. Stuffed bunnies began to populate our bedroom. Jumbo-size bags of Halloween candy from Duane Reade were purchased; Diet Cokes were consumed. I maniacally worked ahead so I could finish all of my projects at work.
Our daughter was born a few weeks early, just after Thanksgiving last year. And then, all time stops. You can’t rush a baby. She just is. You take care of her. You sing to her. You accept the fact that there is no racing around, just being with her.
A few months later, I went back to work. And it’s true that every day can feel like a race. I’m racing to get dressed, to get our daughter dressed and ready for the day, to feed her and feed myself and make sure there is enough iced coffee in the world to accommodate my need for it. I’m racing to the office, I’m racing through the reading I need to do for my job. I am racing, racing, racing, racing, and then racing home to be with my sweet daughter. My sweet daughter, who doesn’t know how much of a relay race we run every day to get to see her every afternoon and evening.
She’s almost a year old now (!). She is a joy and a delight and a constant reminder of all of the good there is. I still don’t feel like we have our shit figured out. But it doesn’t matter, because we are all together. The race may last until my daughter is eighteen. It may never end. Every day is chaos, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.