I’m sorry that I’m not ready.
I often hear that “there’s never a right time to have a baby.” Well, I disagree. I think there is a right time. But right now isn’t it. Our twenties have been drastically different. At 27, you met the love of your life, had your dream job and your own place. At 27, I was mourning the loss of my mother. I was working through a diagnosis of PTSD from a former flame. I was working a full-time job that I hated, feeling like the last bit of my soul that existed before my mother died finally flickered out. I feel like I’ve been struggling ever since.
I’ll be the first to admit, that sure, life is tremendously better. I have a job that’s quasi-related to what I always thought I’d be doing. We have a roof over our heads, money to travel, money to live comfortably, even if some weeks we eat ramen noodles by choice. You’ve helped me face my abusive relationship. You’ve helped me to forgive myself for my past and current self; you’ve helped me through the darkest, most tumultuous times. It’s because of that I know you’ll make an excellent father.
I’d like to have a growing baby bump that’s yours. One you can lay your hands on as we snuggle up together on the couch. One you bend down to talk to and joke with. One you love. One you kiss. One you’ll miss once the baby’s born and one you’ll want back when you tell me you want to try for another.
I see you with our friends — with their kids — and your smile brightens up the room. Fatherhood comes naturally to you, and I can’t say that about every man I’ve ever met. The way you pick me up with ease, with a love that’s completely unconditional, I know my daughter, my son, will be lucky to have you. I’m lucky to have you.
I’m lucky to have you right now, as you keep your dreams of fatherhood to yourself because you don’t want to add anything else onto my plate. My dad has cancer. And you know that it breaks my heart. With every pill, every MRI, every visit, you know that death is always my most dreaded outcome. I fear it and oftentimes that fear consumes me. Fear becomes a debilitating disease, kind of like the cancer itself. I’m always counting down to the day when everything in my life is going to change. The bad news is going to strike. It’s simply a matter of when.
I had always envision myself to be a mom. I tried to become one when I was 19, stupid and wanting one for all the wrong reasons. A decade later and you want one for all the right reasons. And that’s what scares me.
I know motherhood will come naturally to me, yet that’s what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that, through birthing a beautiful baby that I hope looks just like you, I will forgo the projects I’ve always wanted to mother. What will happen to that book I always thought I’d write? What about my desire to travel, to uproot our lives and experience the beauty of a new city? Can I take the child away from their grandparents without feeling like I failed as a mother? I’m afraid motherhood will create a stagnant life, one full of unfulfilled dreams and scribbled what-ifs in my diary. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself.
I remember standing beside my mother’s casket, realizing that the legacy she left behind was me. It was her role as a mother. It was her kindness, her spirituality, her guidance. It was the flame she ignited in me. And it was the same one that burned out as they closed the lid. She died, and in an instant, I stopped feeling like myself. I stopped writing, stopped enjoying. I chose escape. Once that baby is inside of me, there’s no going back. There is no rewriting history. There is no do-over, only expansion.
I think about my best friend who got pregnant unexpectedly. Her life is exponentially better since becoming a mother. It’s a love she never even knew existed until the moment her son was placed in her arms. Yet, despite assuming I’ll have no regrets, I’m absolutely terrified to make the conscience choice to end my life for one that every experienced mother says “doesn’t truly begin until you become a mom.”
I’m nervous to end my life because I feel like the Judy Greer of my own movie. I’m not the star attraction of my own journey. I’m on the sidelines. I’m there as a foil to my own success and the catalyst to new beginnings. I feel like my life is someone else’s story. I feel like I’ve missed out on the life I thought I’d have. I look at a baby as further ruining it.
I went from wanting four to wanting one. I went from buying a car seat base on the last day Babies R’ Us was in business to suggesting that we sell it for an extra $15 bucks. I went from buying ovulation tests to asking you to wear a condom. I went from thinking I was ready for this to knowing that I needed to work on getting myself happy first.
I wish I knew when I’d be ready. While people say there’s never a right time to start a family, people can always recall the moment when they knew they wanted one. For you, it was the moment you saw my negative pregnancy test in October 2018. You were changed after that. A hungry beast somehow convincing yourself that the longer the stick stayed out on the tile floor, the better chance it had of turning positive. That was the moment I knew you wanted to become a father. That was the moment I knew our child, whoever they’d be, already had more love waiting for them they even we knew existed.
Maybe I’ll be ready six months from now. Maybe it’ll be when the nurse lays our best friend’s newborn baby in our arms at the hospital. Maybe it’ll be when we see his squishy face and ten squiggly toes. Maybe it’ll be on vacation. Maybe I’ll be four months pregnant when we visit them at the hospital. Maybe it’ll be when my father dies.
I wish that motherhood didn’t scare me. But I’m thankful that you’re there to make that fear seem rational.