Summer of 2005 was a rough one. I was studying for the bar exam, and was in an advanced state of self-pity. I was watching my life crumple up behind me - my freedom, my tendency to irresponsibility, my fondness for wild and raucous partying.
My career was to begin in a few short months, and those months were dedicated to studying how to master the King of All Standardized Tests.
I was tired. I was scared. And I was more than a little cranky.
Summer of 2005 was also our earlier-agreed-upon time-frame for beginning our quest for a baby. I was slippery when E would raise the subject. Wily. Had so much studying. Last few months of semi-freedom. Please, let's discuss later.
E broached the subject in earnest approximately halfway through the summer. I was shoulder-deep in my books and flashcards and misery. The thought of a screaming baby sapping every last drop of our energy sounded worse than forcefully embedding one of my highlighters deep into my brain via my ear canal.
So we had The Conversation.
The Conversation wherein I told her I wasn't ready. And my E, my sweet E, was so ready. Had been ready for years. She was angry and heartbroken and devastated.
It was a rocky summer.
This morning there is a neat little row of home pregnancy tests lined up in the bathroom, each with a progressively darker second line.
And I am excited.
I've been trying to pinpoint the meaning behind the shift in my feelings. I'm still excruciatingly, gut-churningly aware of the fear, very deep in my heart, that I will not enjoy parenthood. But I am less haunted by it today. Rather, I have begun to embrace that fear as something many, many people (perhaps more men than women?) experience, and yet they become loving and witty and wise parents who hold on tight to their own identities, the one they had their whole lives before this other person came along and mixed all kinds of shit up.
That this process of conception has taken so long has graced me with the opportunity to face up to my fear, to dissect it and call it by it's true name. Because at first it seemed like a deep-seated ambivalence towards children. They're boring. They have poor vocabularies. They are terribly self-focused. They poop their pants.
Then it transitioned into becoming repulsed by parents (bear in mind I live in NYC - there really is a problem with the parents in this city). Pushing their 8 year old twins in double-wide strollers, scowling at their nanny from behind their venti non-fat lattes as she unloads 90 pound boxes of Pampers from their Suburban double parked in front of their door-man buildings.
But, of course, I began to realize that these Park Avenue mommies are not the norm. Lots of parents maintain their identity and continue to care about important things (like, say, the planet Earth) even after their child is born.
And finally, I began to see it for what it was. Fear. I won't know what the hell to do. How do you raise a person? I am wracked with guilt when my poor dog doesn't get his hour of off-leash time. Imagine the guilt involved in child-rearing? Holy mother of god, I'll be disabled with a fear of fucking them up.
And strangely, that seems more manageable to me. Everyone is afraid of messing up this kid that is their one and true responsibility in this life. I'm just like everyone else. And hey, who doesn't like being a part of the majority once in a while?
So anywayz. These little positive pregnancy tests. They are rather thrilling. E obsesses over whether or not each day is darker than the next. This morning, bent over and squinting at today's and Sunday's tests, she proclaimed today's test to be certainly NO DARKER than yesterday's. She is a little fearful. Her broken heart from January's miscarriage is slow to heal. We are both still painfully aware of the number of things that could foil this fragile little pregnancy.
But her sleepy smiles are coming more easily and frequently. And yesterday, when I turned to her as I felt the warm weight of her palm on my shoulder, she was looking at me with green eyes shining -- "I really am pregnant." As if she still can't really believe it.
Her beta is tomorrow.