I was really bad at having my first ultrasound. My large-headed baby was curled up like a shrimp. My boyfriend, Alex had a look on his face like the heavens had opened up and everything he ever dreamed about paternity was coming true. He was nailing this. I felt nothing but pure unadulterated fear, and then the realization of my fear scared me even more.
“Does this mean I’m going to be a terrible mother?” I thought to myself as I laid there being poked by the ultrasound tech that bore way too close a resemblance to Fortune Feimster. I mean, when Ross and Rachel saw their little inch-long piece of life for the first time, she cried and there was that touching music in the background. All I kept thinking was, “my straightener is definitely still on and I wore this exact same outfit yesterday.” Are those the actions of a prepared parent? My smoke alarm randomly went off last night and I was so sure it was a ghost trying to contact me that I slept with my iPhone night light on. I hardly ever take my dog all the way out to go to the bathroom when it’s cold outside. I just let her poop on the balcony and act like I had no idea she was going to do that. I love bagel bites. I laugh every time I see a Sprinkles cupcake because it looks so much like a boob. Sometimes I actually order amaretto sours at bars as a serious drink that I’m going to consume, not to act ditzy and have guys show me better drinks. I like them. I think they taste like a good time. I used to give my middle school boyfriends framed versions of my family’s Christmas card as gifts. I’m an only child so they were always dramatic black and white pictures of me in our backyard. These are the things that were running through my head as I stared at the fruit of my loins wiggling around on the big screen TV in front of me.
I looked over at the tech like she was supposed to be filled with advice for me but she just said, “Well, there it is. Your typical human variety baby.” She was looking at the screen like it was a Sbarros menu or something. This wasn’t her first rodeo. All I kept saying was “this is so crazy,” which I knew she hated. She didn’t think this was crazy at all. She just wanted to take her lunch break. Wasn’t I supposed to feel some kind of unbreakable emotional connection? Wasn’t everything supposed to make perfect sense now? I was just more terrified than ever. There was going to be my own personal human in the world now and I was completely responsible for its rearing. This was like a high stakes Tamagotchi situation and I was awful at having a Tamagotchi. I always forgot to feed it and it always had those wiggly lines like it was starting to smell. I wasn’t really done rearing myself. I always told myself that I didn’t have to have it all figured out until I was 25. That seemed like an age where you should stop picking at your face and start watching the local news. I just thought I had more time. All of the girls I knew that had found themselves in this exact situation had been either really responsible or really cultured. I was neither of those things. My responsibility was constantly being disproven by car towings, overdrawn bank accounts, and academic blunders. I also can’t really say that I’m necessarily cultured. Greta Gerwig would never play me in a quirky independent film about unexpected motherhood. I always fast forward through the indie musical guests on Late Shows. I’ve never been inside a Madewell store. I had no idea who Moby was until they made a reference to him on SNL a couple of weeks ago. I had to Google him. Three months ago my biggest concerns were whether or not I wanted to start a juice cleanse and if Girls was actually getting as nonsensical as I thought or just going way over my head.
When we got home, I was searching for a magnet to hang the ultrasound picture on the fridge, and there was only one left; the rest were being used by bills, my weekly calendar, save the dates, and Christmas cards. I realized maybe being scared was okay. Maybe being totally unprepared was okay. Maybe that was just being honest about it, because even if I already had a 401k, I bet I’d still be pretty insecure about the uncertainty of the whole thing. So, for now, I think I’m going to take comfort in my excitement and fear of the situation because that’s kind of the whole point, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone is ever completely confident in his or her parenting abilities. I’d even be willing to bet that when Tori Spelling was lying on that table staring at her 30th kid wiggling around on the big screen in front of her, the most real and honest part of her was thinking, “Dammit, I think I left the garage door open. This is going to be a complete disaster.”