You’re awake again. It’s 2 a.m., and there’s a very important board meeting in just a few hours, but you’re laying in bed thinking about your fertility.
There is a man beside you in bed and he’s snoring, unaware and fully content, both in his sleep cycles and his aging process. It’s maddening, actually, how he’s so nonchalant about baby making. Like you, he pictures a family. Unlike you, he doesn’t seem hard pressed to figure out when.
The panic catches you off guard. First it was your best friend, a year ago, casually announcing her baby news over brunch. You forced a smile and swallowed your eggs. Big eyes! Big surprise! Big excitement! Lots of “awwwwws!”
But you want to say, “Really? REALLY? We’re not old enough to be moms!”
The panic sets in at work, when your 40-year-old co-worker takes a week off for IVF treatments but not before warning you, “Honey, those ovaries won’t last forever.”
The panic sets in when your mother-in-law raises her eyebrows in expectation during Thanksgiving dinner, and then you crush her soul by announcing your promotion at work.
The panic grows and grows and grows until you start wondering if you actually want to be a mother at all.
A few years ago, no one cared about your uterus. You were in grad school and he drove a beat-up motorcycle, so if anything they prayed you’d stay on birth control until there was a little more cash flow for a bigger car and a hospital stay.
The questions start when you’re house shopping. This is a clear sign of settling down, of course. “Are you thinking about babies?” they ask. And you want to answer, “It’s none of your business, and please leave me alone, and I want them but I also don’t, and this is all very scary for me, and WHAT IF I CAN’T EVEN GET PREGNANT?”
Logically speaking, it’s time. You are financially responsible adults at the peak of your fertility. If you’re honest with yourself, the desire is there but it doesn’t feel strong enough to weigh out the sacrifices. Babies are cute but they seem like real game changers, and you’re not sure you’re ready to give up spontaneous date nights and lazy Saturday morning sex and season tickets to Vail.
So when they ask if you’ll have babies, you smile and change the subject.
There are plenty of scenarios and challenges when it comes to baby making, and the road to pregnancy can be more complicated for some than others. (Infertility, deployed husbands, and challenging marriages can are just some of many factors at play.) But, within all these challenges there are largely two different types of people: those who make big life decisions based on their feelings, and those who are more of the logical thinker types. There are the women who meet a man on Friday and are convinced they will marry him by Monday, and then there are those of us who date a guy for years before deciding that maybe he’s the one. There’s the man who grew up in a big family and can’t stop picturing his own brood around the kitchen table, and there is the guy who can’t stop thinking about how much diapers and club soccer and college will cost. Some of us dream about the possibilities while others see all the things that could go wrong.
You are part of this second bunch of people. Some might call you pessimistic but really you’re just a planner, and planning for children is a daunting task.
There are lots of things to consider when you’re a planner, and you’ve thought about everything from ovulation cycles to your health insurance plan, and if you’d rather be super pregnant in the winter months or the summer months. You’ve considered the research and subsequently decided that you must have children before 35 because that’s when your fertility will starts decreasing. And then you think about how your husband wants three kids and you’d like to space them two years apart, and that means getting pregnant by 30, but who knows if you’ll even get pregnant right away so you should probably start trying by the time you’re 29, and what if it takes years and years? And do we really have enough money saved for this type of financial commitment?!?
You know what you didn’t think about, like, ever? You don’t think about newborn coos or soft Aden & Anais blankets. You aren’t swooning over new mom’s Instagram accounts. You don’t daydream about what your belly would look like in a darling Motherhood Maternity sweater. There is no secret Pinterest board with nursery ideas. You are too busy analyzing the costs of full-time childcare to get sucked into such trivial daydreams.
And yet, somewhere, deep down in the depths of your logical soul, the desire for children is still there. It is quiet, but undeniably present. Present in the worrying. Present in the prayers. Present in the analyzing. Present in the research. You aren’t yet longing, but you’re preparing in your own practical ways. You can’t imagine yourself with a baby bump or a newborn, but you also can’t picture a home without children around the table. A decision must be made.
So this is what you need to know, you 2:00am thinker. You may never wake up with an undeniable desire for a baby, but that doesn’t mean you’re not ready to be a mom. For you, this decision may be a completely logical one; a deep act of trust that the thrill of motherhood will come later. After all, almost everyone is afraid to jump out of an airplane the first time they do it.
The excitement will come eventually, but perhaps not right away. It may not arrive with your positive pregnancy test or even the first doctor’s visit. It may be there faintly, but not fully, when you announce the news to your families. It may not even come when you start shopping for nursery bedding. For you, the confidence that you’re ready for parenting may grow at the same rate as your belly: slow and steady.
And then one day, when you can’t see your feet anymore, it’s there. The wonder. The love. The desire to sacrifice everything you have to make a good life for someone you haven’t fully met.
And you’ll better understand that your lack of enthusiasm for a baby wasn’t an indicator of your lack of readiness to be a parent; it was simply your way of preparing for one of the biggest and best changes you’ll ever make.
Because love sometimes comes slowly. And there’s nothing wrong with that.