As I write this, Olive keeps placing a blue Paper Mate Inkjoy pen between my nose and lips because a few moments ago I showed her how to hold it there in place. This pen is older than she is and yet it has rarely been used. I remember coming out of Staples in the fall of 2011 with over $40 worth of office supplies thinking that my future child will call me insane for hoarding office supplies, of all things.
I’ve always known I’d have kids. It was always kind of in the general life plan. As we approached marriage, and as I figured out more and more how much harder I needed to work in order to achieve the life I want to lead, the farther I strayed from the idea of having children at all. My mother died just before I made the biggest change in my life and I carried the pain so poorly that I’m surprised I’m still alive sometimes. I was newly married to my long-time partner and was grasping at straws because this new life made me feel lost. Having a kid was the last thing I wanted.
It wasn’t until I noticed the cramping after orgasms (fuck me if I ever censor myself in my own blog) that I thought I might be pregnant. I took the test not thinking about the fear I have about the whole thing. It felt like a bad time because all the plans laid out were for a child-free first few years. I got a positive result but since I was already compartmentalizing, my feelings were kept at bay. I went to a doctor, had my ultrasound, and started being pregnant.
It wasn’t a difficult pregnancy, physically, but my anxiety was through the roof for the next 8 or so months. We didn’t have our own house and lived with my in-laws (we still do). Our living situation didn’t allow for a stay-in caregiver so I decided to quit my job. My husband decided to switch careers to earn more so that we could survive on a single income. On top of all that, I didn’t know shit about taking care of a baby.
I gave birth and holding my child for the first time is definitely the blurry highlight of my life. I was on pain medication after a 24-hour labor ending up in an elective C-section. I never really paid attention to kids until that very moment. Olive was a tiny baby and she didn’t look like anything I ever pictured. Nothing about everything after that was like anything I ever pictured.
There were so many challenges between then and now. The baby months were spent in boring repetition and wishing we were already in the next stage. I feel as if all those days could be lumped together to form one mega-day because it was just the same thing over and over. I’d lose my cool at night when I really, really, really wanted some sleep. I was bombarded with advice left and right but would listen to none of them and followed my own instinct, which was the collective knowledge of the internet. I acquired mastitis and it got so severe that I had to get in touch with a breast surgeon and ended up in the OR. So many details that now feel irrelevant because in a survivalist point-of-view, we made it.
When Olive turned one, I knew that we were smooth-sailing. She learned how to stand, then walk, then babble. Then I got pregnant again. Another welcome surprise that had me clocking in more worry hours because this time, I’d have two to think of. It’s bizarre because I have some degree of confidence and a lack of confidence at the same time. I’m about halfway through, which gives us a lot of time to get ready, but I can’t wait to hold my new child. The pregnancy is kicking my ass this time.
Looking ahead frightens me. I feel as if I mostly fail to fulfill what life requires and I’m afraid to take the beatings experienced by a normal human person. I want my kids to be alright. To have a view of life that doesn’t make them want to kill themselves. I kind of don’t want to die at all because I’ll miss them so much. There’s so much to do, and yet it feels so nice to just lay back with my arms around Olive and watch Sesame Street… 10 times a day.