It was a Sunday morning when I first found out I had a tiny human growing inside of me.
We had recently moved into our new condo, and decided to have some friends over that previous Saturday night to celebrate. By celebrate, I mean drink a sh*t ton of red wine. (Cut me some slack, mom-shamers: I had no idea my eggo was preggo!) Naturally, I woke up with a bit of a hangover, and decided to go to the grocery store to grab some stuff to make brunch.
While I was there, I got a mean case of heartburn. This may be normal for some, but it wasn't for me. I very rarely get heartburn. (I know, hard to believe, especially since my blood type is most likely "S" for salsa.) Suddenly, a quote from the movie Juno popped into my thoughts:
"..if it is any consolation, I have heartburn that is radiating in my knee caps and I haven't taken a dump since like Wednesday.."
I laughed to myself and tossed in the cheapest pregnancy test I could find. Ironically, I set it right next to my mimosa ingredients that I was SO sure I would be indulging in later.
I got home, unloaded the groceries, and did the thing with the pee and the stick without any concern. Three minutes of maternal marinating passed by and - MY GOOD GOD - there it was: The tiniest, faintest line. I mean, FAINT. Like, dust off the binoculars you convinced yourself you would totally use on all the "nature hikes" you planned on taking in your New Year resolution list three years ago type of faint. I took a picture and sent it to my sister for a second opinion.
Me: This is a negative, right?
Sister: Umm pretty sure that's a positive!
Me: But the line is BARELY there!
Sister: A line is a line, sister. You're PREGO!
Me: wide-eyed emoji face
I set my phone down, walked into the living room where my husband was watching TV, held up the pee stick and said:
"Hey. This thing says I'm pregnant, but don't get excited because it's probably wrong."
He simply smiled (pretty smugly now that I think back on it) and said: "OK."
No surprise cupcakes or balloons filled with plastic fetuses once popped or dogs wearing t-shirts announcing they're going to get a sibling - nothing elaborate in this story. Hear me out: There is nothing wrong with all of that (I took a Pinterest-y pregnancy photo later on), to each their own as far as I'm concerned. I just think it's important to share my less than enchanting announcement to my husband because, well, there is A LOT of pressure on moms to make EVERY step of their pregnancy storybook-worthy. This part of mine wasn't. Some are. Both have beauty to be found in them.
I then proceeded to walk out the door, drive to the nearest pharmacy, head down the "Baby and Period Stuff" aisle, and buy about 14 pregnancy tests. Every time, the line seemed to become darker. My sister was right: I was going to be a MOM.
Listen, it's not that I wasn't excited - I really was! I was simply shocked.
Matthew and I had not been using any type of real protection for almost THREE YEARS prior to our marriage. Every time we had sex, we relied on the good ol' "pull & pray" method and, although my husband liked to boast that he just had "incredible timing", deep down we were both worried that we'd never be able to get pregnant. Almost every mom that I told about our contraceptive "method", would laugh and tell me that that's how they ended up with all 19 of their children. (Okay, maybe it was like 3, but when you have 0, three sounds like 19.) To put it bluntly: I was pretty convinced motherhood was not in my future, and I had been silently preparing for the heartbreak that would ensue.
At this point, when we found out I was for sure pregnant, we had only been married for two and a half months. Basically, there had been a lot less "pulling" and a whole lot more praying during that time period. It was hard for me to believe that I could become pregnant so quickly. I felt an immediate wave of relief, followed by a sea of guilt. I thought of all the women that craved this moment, and here I was in it. I was worried I didn't deserve it, that I didn't have to fight hard enough for it. What if I wasn't a "good" mom? And how do you know if you are truly made for this motherhood gig? I was scared. I was anxious. I was stepping into a stage of life that was unknown.
How do you prepare for such a thing? In hindsight, I've realized this: You don't.
I don't care how many mommy books or blogs you read or videos you watch or specialists you consult or years you have babysat or nannied or been an aunt or God Mother, nothing - I mean NOTHING - can prepare you for the great weight that comes with holding a baby in your trembling arms for the first time. Whether that baby grew inside of you, or held a temporary home in the body of another, there is no preparing any parent for the feeling that YOUR arms are the same arms they will always associate as their first and forever home.
I am by no means discouraging the reading or classes or heavy breathing or consulting - do whatever it is that eases your growing heart! I simply want to note that you should also prepare for being completely and utterly UNPREPARED.
I began to realize this to be true when I heard that tiny beating heart for the first time. My God, is there a more beautiful sound?
It wasn't the outburst of emotion that surprised me when I first heard it - I knew my hormones were the captains of this growing ship! It was the strength that came with the living bass resonating inside of me. It was the compassion that consumed me. It was the great and immediate longing for someone that I had never met.
How can you ever be prepared for the day you see a face that you have been hopelessly in love with for so long?
I don't believe there is an answer to that question. And that is the beauty of being a new mom. It is the realization that we will never have all of the answers, but knowing we will always have the arms that first comforted them. And, most of the time, that's all any of us really need. A safe place to land. A loving hand to hold. A faint, but very real, line that will always lead us home.