Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dear Baby, You are amazing FULL STOP

Wednesday, Aug. 30:

Dear Belly Bean,

How do you do it?

You haven’t even been born yet, and I’m already amazed by your abilities.

First of all, surviving inside my body. Not just surviving, but growing. Maybe even thriving. I can’t imagine you’re too comfortable in there. Heaven knows I’m uncomfortable with you in there. You have made yourself right at home. You’ve even remodeled the place and made it your own.

But still, I’m amazed at what you’ve had to put up with. I have tried to be good and healthy and not send a lot of chemicals down your way. I mean, I didn’t smoke or drink, and I’ve foregone OTC medicines except antacids. (Except for that unfortunate cellulitis incident, when I had to take antibiotics so you wouldn’t get infected, too.) I took good vitamins for you. But life is what it is, and every once in a while, I just had to have some caffeine. I had my (greatly reduced) share of artificial sweeteners. I’m pretty sure I ate trans fats, and enjoyed it. Someday, I hope you’ll understand....

Also, the sleeping positions. My sitting and bending positions. That time I moved all those rocks in the garden. That time in the Bahamas when I got overheated. All those times I forgot just how far you were making my stomach stick out, and I accidentally bumped into something -- or your dad bumped into you/me. I tried to make it easy on you, but sometimes it just wasn’t possible. I hope you aren’t worse for the wear.

And let’s not forget all those strange people spying on you. The numerous ultrasounds. Listening to your little heart beating. Now people are reaching in every week and touching your head. Doesn’t it drive you crazy?! A doctor told me you act as though you don’t like that kind of thing, and I’m sorry. It’s just one of those things you have to put up with in life. I won’t tell you about some of the things that are yet to come, like rectal thermometers. It’s all for your own good, and I’ll be right there with you. So don’t worry.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve tried to be good to you. But things happen. And you’re still alive and kicking, and I hope you’re doing OK in there. I know it won’t be long before you realize that you need more space, and you go looking for a new apartment.

Speaking of which, your dad and I have the perfect place for you. We’re like your real estate agents. We spent a lot of time making it just right for you. So when you decide to move out of my body, all you have to do is move right into the new pad. You don’t even need to pack anything. Everything’s taken care of. Sweet deal, eh? The new place should be just fine for the next 17 to 25 years, depending on your, uh, personality.

And that leads me to another thing that’s amazing about you. There are already so many people who want to meet you! Some of them are even googly-eyed over the idea of seeing you for the first time. (Those would be your grandparents, whom you’ll meet soon.) So many people have helped your dad and me set up your new place for you. Isn’t it nice to know people are happy just thinking about your existence? It will probably take several years until you can fully grasp that concept, but anyway.... I’m amazed you have this je ne sais quoi, this natural charisma, that people respond to. Not just people, but your dad and me, too!

As soon as we found out about you, we started thinking about you. We started planning for you. We started loving you! Your dad keeps wondering if you will like him. And I tell him of course you will. He is going to show you all about making and fixing things. If you ever have a problem you can’t solve, he’ll help. He’s also going to take lots of photos and videos of you with all his cameras. And me, I’m going to take you out and show you the real world: the forests, the rivers, the marshes, the reefs. We’ll have a great time exploring nature. Then we’ll come home, cook up a snack, and play some songs or read books. The three of us will have a great time together.

So when you’re ready, just let us know.

It will be amazing.


Your mom

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And now, the incredible Visible Woman

Tuesday, Aug. 29:

This could be my last weekly appointment with my Ob.

I didn't make an appointment for next week. And no one at the office reminded me to. Scary. So what happens after Friday -- my due date -- I have no idea.

The doctor is cheerful today as she breezes in and tells me I smell good (and I'm not wearing perfume). She says there's no dilation, but the baby's head is right there. She says that should mean the baby won't have a problem fitting through my pelvic bones. Yay!

"Have you had any contractions yet?" she asks.

"I don't know."

"That means no."

I finally remember to tell her about my doula. She thinks a doula is a good idea.

She also likes the cord blood registry idea, which I tell her next. She says she would do it if she had a baby now. I left the cord blood issue up to JP, whose co-workers talked it up to him and recommended a company to him. I have my doubts about how useful the blood will actually be. But JP likes the idea, made all the calls and signed us up. Now we're just waiting for a kit to arrive in the mail. My Ob says I can take a competing company's kit home with me -- just in case I go into labor tonight, for example -- and bring it back if I don't need it. Otherwise, the kit is $250. Which is just great that it's raining when I leave the office, and some words on the kit's outer paper start to run....

I also tell my doctor I am turning blue with all the veins that have appeared close to the surface of my skin. I mean, I almost look like those Visible Man educational toys that let you see organs and bones and stuff. She says it's because I have 50% more blood in my body now. Nothing to worry about -- it will go away.

Man, is this post super boring or what?! This baby needs to come so I have something to blog about.

In the meantime, have you seen the pregnancy time-lapse video on the Web? The Early Show featured it today. I chronicled my entire pregnancy, too. Only I did it with this blog....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dream girl

Monday, Aug. 28:

Last night, I dreamed about my baby. I put the baby in the crib. The next thing I know, the baby was coming out of the crib as a teenage daughter! I know kids grow up fast, but really!

She and I walked into JP's garage/workshop. A storm was making the ceiling cave in. We had to get out fast! We worked great together as a pair.

Then in real life, today, the above unapologetically girly outfit came in the mail. I have to fess up: I bought it online. After getting the nursery together and seeing my stash of neutral onesies last week, I couldn't take it anymore. I was going cross-eyed with all the yellow, green and white. I craved color. So, this cute little red outfit.

So does this mean my baby is a girl? ...because I am still waiting for my boyish bright blue race car shorts outfit to arrive, as well.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday, the day of Nest

Sunday, Aug. 27:

JP and I are nesting today.

He moved furniture and cleaned the carpets and rugs. I dusted the blinds and washed all the window treatments.

He moved a lot of (his) clutter out of the hallway. I vacuumed the upholstery and fluffed throw pillows in the dryer with anti-allergen stuff.

He set a night stand -- finished and matched with the dresser he just did -- in the baby's room. I ran around the glass and door frames with some cleaner.

At one point, I thought maybe my water broke. But, um, I guess I was just sweating. After all this nesting activity.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Due in a week -- can you make it two?

Wednesday, Aug. 23:

Another weekly doctor appointment. It "should" be my last weekly appointment.

Yes, it hit me like the Pythagorean theorem on a sixth-grader while I answered a cashier's question about when I am due: next week.

I am due next week.

So today, the elf doctor tells me if I come back for an appointment next week, then whoever sees me that day will tell me what I should do.

Why not just tell me right now what to expect? But do I think to ask this question? No. I can't even remember to tell anyone when I go in every week that I have a doula. There's something else I don't remember to ask, but I can't remember even now what that is! Oh, wait. Now I remember. Didn't someone tell me I was going to get my file to pack in my hospital bag? I didn't get it. Was that my question? I can't remember.

I told Roo my theory is that once I get some of these household projects out of the way, I will relax, and the baby will come. Plus, you know I desperately want to hold out for a September birthday.

So I'm not too worried. Besides, the cashier today told me, "You look great for someone going to deliver a baby next week."

I'll take that as a compliment!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Books on motherhood and birth for preggos

Tuesday, Aug. 22:

Give a pregnant woman a book, and you mess with her mind for a week; teach a pregnant woman how to read, and you really screw her up for the lifetime of her baby.

Naw, really, 30-some weeks ago, I didn’t have a clue about pregnancy or birth or how to take care of a newborn baby. I mean, I was as far removed from motherhood as Osama bin Laden is from actually having a chance with Whitney Houston.

So I read all the magazines and books I could lay eyes on. (I should qualify that by saying mostly anything free -- magazines from my doctor’s office and books from the library.) Although I did buy a few. I said I’d share the books that were helpful to me, so here they are, in no order at all:

Hello, My Name Is Mommy: A Dysfunctional Girl’s Guide to Having and Loving (and Hopefully Not Screwing Up) a Baby by Sheri Lynch. This book is entertaining and informative while not pulling any punches. Sheri is frank about her awful childhood and how that made her afraid to raise a child herself -- so her words of encouragement for those who feel they couldn’t possibly be a good mother are words from experience. She dishes practical advice for working mothers and how to travel with infants. And she was a first-time mid-30s mom like myself. Stay away from her birth story, though, unless you like reading about impossible pain.

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. This is a rather back-to-the-earth, New Agey, crunchy-granola kind of book, but a real eye-opener when it comes to how hospitals can take something natural like birth and make it a sanitized medical procedure devoid of meaning for the new parents. There are some activities included, which I didn’t do. This book is probably aimed for people who want to give birth at home or a birthing center rather than a hospital (like me), but I still enjoyed reading it.

Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas. It makes all the sense in the world once you read this book and really look at human anatomy: giving birth in a more or less vertical position -- not flat on your back the way it seems most medical professionals prefer (because it’s easier for them) -- is better for the baby and the mother. Half of the book offers all the reasons to choose an active birth, and the other half offers yoga and birthing positions to practice in preparation for birth. The edition I got includes photos of women in dated outfits that, surprisingly, appear to be making a comeback.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy and The Girlfriends' Guide to Baby Gear by Vicki Iovine. Vicki’s books seemed like required reading for hip mamas when I read them. Several women recommended them to me. And they are really helpful and chock full of good ideas about dressing the baby, what to pack in your hospital bag, what nursery items are a waste of money and other good stuff. However, some of the references to pop culture are dated, making me wonder just how long ago she had a baby -- which led me to wonder just how relevant some of her stories are. (I hear a newer edition of the pregnancy guide is coming out next year.) Also, sometimes she tries so hard to be funny that I couldn’t tell when she was being serious. Still good to read, though.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau. This is a practical, hands-on newborn care manual. I checked it out from the library on a lark, having heard of the Baby Whisperer on TV, and found it really interesting. Tracy’s years as a baby nurse have led to her EASY (eat, activity, sleep, yourself) approach to putting a baby on a flexible schedule. There are some really good tips in here (says a person who doesn’t have a baby yet to try out the tips on).

There are other books I read (or at least skimmed) but which didn’t make an impression on me -- not enough to recommend them, anyway. And it’s possible I forgot a few that I read. (Hey, I was also trying to go through my pile of novels before the baby gets here!)

I also enjoyed my one copy of Lamaze magazine I picked up for free somewhere.

As for multimedia, I am enjoying the Hypbirth program and am still making my way through the DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer.

Maybe some of these resources will help other expectant moms!

Update: Thanks for reminding me, Amber -- my friend Star loaned me On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. It seems to go hand in hand with the Baby Whisperer's ideas. I really liked the first chapter, which encourages couples to maintain their relationship first and foremost because that helps the child (and keeps you sane), and which warns against certain "child-centric" parenting practices (which keeps you sane).

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's a baby room!

Monday, Aug. 21:

Rejoice with me.

The black hole formerly known as the Room of Doom is now a habitable baby room!

So why does part of me want to take up a piece of carpet or break the cute little clothes hamper?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fat chance

Thursday, Aug. 17:

Weekly doctor visit. With the elf doctor. She's growing on me, especially since my stay in the hospital last month, where she visited me. Everything checks out normal. No dilation, no baby progression yet.

I'm so tired lately. So I take a nap.

I have heard women have unusual dreams while they're pregnant. But weird dreams are normal for me -- so it's all relative. My nap dream, though, might qualify as one of those whacked-out pregnancy dreams.

I'm somewhere I haven't been before. Someone tells me this family I don't know has given me a bunch of gifts. Some of them are for the baby, and the others are for me. (My interpretation: my subconscious replaying the recent baby showers, with a twist, of course.) Apparently, the family is giving me the gifts because they have a son who likes me. They hope the gifts will encourage me to hang out with them. There is a young woman there, whom I consider a friend even though in real life I don't know who she is, who tells me it's OK to hang out with the family even though I'm married. It's the polite thing to do, considering the piles of gifts they've given me. (My interpretation: have I been watching arranged marriage rituals on PBS or something?! Who knows.)

So I'm supposed to meet this guy. Then my unknown friend dyes my hair black. She helps me pick out a pair of jeans. She pulls a red T-shirt over my head. She wants me to look good for this guy for some reason.

And I realize I am skinny! Although my unknown friend tsk-tsks the state of my behind.

The family has a party. This guy is supposed to be there. Until he shows up, I dance with everyone -- I mean, everyone is just dancing to dance and have a good time, not couple dancing.

I'm skinny!

The family tells me who the guy is. It's Ashton Kucher! (My interpretation: my subconscious recognizes the fact he apparently likes older women with dark hair, aka Demi Moore!) But Ashton never shows up.

I can't believe I'm writing this.... I definitely don't have a thing for him. I don't have any celebrity crushes. (I used to, though. Maybe I'll blog about it some time.)

But I'm skinny!

Then I wake up and realize, of course, I'm still pregnant and rounded with baby weight. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stepping into the funny pages

Wednesday, Aug. 16:

Today, I meet with my first-choice doula and talk with her for an hour at her office. She's so nice. She's experienced. And she has a cute haircut. We make it official: she's going to be my doula in a matter of weeks.


She asks what my mother's labors were like. Funny, because my mother just told me on her recent visit: six hours for my sister (her first child) and 54 minutes with me. Our brother came later and took eight hours, but this isn't surprising, seeing as he's 30 years old and still in college sleeping on Spiderman sheets. (He's into drawing comic strips.) The doula points out my reddish hair and says people with red hair tend to go quickly through labor. (Have you ever heard this?) I admit my hair isn't that red anymore -- hasn't been since I was probably eight years old -- sunshine can coax it out. But she smiles and says, "You're going to be my little red-haired girl."

OK, Charlie Brown, the doula. Let's have a six-hour labor.

Heck, I'd even take eight hours if I knew the child wouldn't end up quoting, "My spider sense is tingling."

What a comic-rific day....

Then I meet my friend Star at lunchtime to compare pregnancy notes and catch up.

And now for my next trick: finishing the baby's room (the floor is bare concrete right now, neither the crib nor the baby hammock has been assembled and the dresser JP picked up still has to be sanded and varnished one last time in addition to having the drawer pulls screwed on), finishing evaluating another author's manuscript for my publisher, finishing writing shower thank-you notes, getting the baby's car seat checked and cleaning the carpets. And there's probably something else in there I'm supposed to do, too....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You've been pregnant too long when ....

Tuesday, Aug. 15:

You know you’ve been pregnant too long when:

You begin to really identify with whales, and you actually envy them because they get to float in the water all day -- even the pregnant ones.

You no longer care how often you have to pee, or if anyone is counting.

The muumuu-style shapeless dress your sister-in-law loaned you now looks like a comfortable and fashionable outfit option, and you don’t understand why your husband hates it.

The idea of gaining 35 pounds no longer makes you break into a panic.

Seeing your abdomen lurch violently to the side, causing other people to stare agape, doesn’t seem unusual.

“Three times’ a charm” is the phrase that keeps coming to mind when pulling on your panties.

You feel at home among the watermelons for sale at the market.
You forget that you own shoes that you have to lace up and tie.
Who's gotta good one?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Baby's almost done

Monday, Aug. 14:

We had a fun visit, but now my mother and sister are flying back home. From the aromatheraphy facial my mother treated me to (because she loved the one my sister and I gave her for her birthday), to getting my sister to distract me so she could take my still-needed baby supplies to the checkout at Babies R Us and pay for them herself (!!!), to treating my sister and me to lunch, and even offering to weed my yard and wash my windows in this heat (of course, I didn't let her), she did so much. As a grandmother looking forward to her latest grandchild, she is waaaay different from the person she was when I was growing up.

My sister, too, helped me sort out some things and figure out what JP and I still need to prepare for the baby. Even though her youngest is almost 17. I think she's looking forward to this little person, too.

Now that they are gone, I feel this is the Home Stretch. The Ninth Inning. The baby could come any time.

But oh, I hope s/he will hold out a little while longer . . . .

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Yin and yang

Thursday, Aug. 10:

Today, I was able to get up early enough to get in a little exercise when I was treated to the news of the foiled airline terrorist plot that was on every morning news show.

This was the exact time my mother and sister were boarding a plane to come visit me for a few days. I wondered if the air mayhem would affect their flight, even though they flew out of Chicago. (It did, of course, as I learned later and became the first person to explain to them what was going on.)

They arrived minus their bottled water, toothpaste and other toiletry items. But they got here. (Sister: "Thank God I didn't carry on my OPI nail polish! That stuff is like $9 a bottle!")

After giving me a hug hello, the first thing my mother did was bend down and kiss my stomach.

It's amazing to me sometimes how such sweetness and such anger can exist together in the world.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another flipping appointment

Wednesday, Aug. 9:

The Ob/Gyn office’s newish suite upstairs from the main office is so quiet and inviting after not sleeping last night that I wish I could just sink into the leather sofa in the dim waiting room and listen to the Celine Dion CD playing through the speakers. But just as I’m getting cozy and feel I might actually fall asleep, I get called in.

An ultrasound tech leads me to a room with a machine I haven’t seen before. It has a large keyboard-like control panel that’s something out of Star Trek. She tells me what I came to hear first thing: the baby’s head is down. The baby is in the right position! No breech baby for me! (Oh, please don’t flip back up . . . .)

Then she says the baby’s face looks squished. S/he’s running out of room. I don’t want my baby to have a squished face! (JP reminds me later the entire baby gets squished on the way out during birth.) Maybe the ultrasound tech was just trying to say the baby’s ugly.

She takes measurements of the baby’s head, femur, heart, etc. and estimates the baby at 6 pounds, 5 ounces.

Then I have a regular checkup with one of the doctors in the practice. From now on, I’ll have a vaginal exam every week. Yay. When the doctor sizes up my belly with a measuring tape, the metal end of the tape feels as though it’s going to cut the top of my, er, fold. She did this last time, too. None of the others go that far south when they’re measuring. I really hope she's not the one on duty when the Big Day comes -- she's nice, but there's something about her I don't trust.

On the way out, I see the elf doctor. She looks as tired as I feel. She tells me her 13-month-old son isn’t sleeping. She seems to foggily wander around the reception desk.

And I recognize my tired sleeplessness is only just beginning.

In the good ol' shower time

Sunday, Aug. 6:

It’s a party!

About a baker’s dozen of my friends and family are gathered at my friend Roo’s house for the baby shower. Everyone is happy. Roo has balloons and decorations up in several rooms. Snacks on her dining room table. Presents piled on and around her bar. Her miniature maltese/miniature schnauzer mix son is entertaining everyone in the family room and helping himself to all the attention he can get.

All for my baby.

As soon as everyone has arrived, she starts the first game, in which we have to match the guests to their baby photos (my idea!). It’s really hard -- and I’m the only one who knows everyone who has come!

We play another game about baby animals, which I win, but I refuse to take one of the prizes. (I actually don’t make a fool out of myself over the shower games this time around.) We play baby bingo.

Roo has a spread for lunch on her kitchen table, and everyone helps herself to yummy stuff. We all eat, and people are getting to know one another. Mothers share stories of their pregnancies -- or in the case of a couple of my friends, their adoptions.

Roo makes me cut the beautiful cake and then directs me to a big chair to open the gifts. The gifts! Amazing. About half the guests have shopped from the registry; the other half have given me really unique things I didn’t know existed, and fun books and CDs. Roo and Star have stolen the show, however, with their special joint gift: they put together a Close to My Heart scrapbook for the baby so all I have to do is put the baby pictures right in place for an amazing, creative, personal album. I’m afraid I’m going to cry because I know how much work they put into the scrapbook (and the shower), but I have to keep opening gifts quickly because the shower is taking so long -- and I tend to be slow about opening gifts.

My neighbor (who keeps mentioning she would be happy to play surrogate grandma) has been so kind to drive me to the shower and back, and people help load her car with the gifts.

I’m so overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and good wishes. Sounds overly sweet, but it’s true.

I’ll post pics later if anyone sends good ones my way -- most of mine came out blurry.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Feeling inside-out over upside-down

Friday, Aug. 4:

Regular two-week medical appointment. I get a chance to read the whole August issue of Parenting, plus stare out the window, before the doctor comes into the exam room.

And I get to do this half-naked because she needs to swab me for Group B strep -- a regular test for this point in pregnancy, I gather. If there are any germs left from all the antibiotics I had to take last month.

This doctor in the practice just had a baby herself about five months ago, and she seems much happier than my previous appointment with her (which was my first appointment with her), when she was about ready to pop.

She measures my tummy and feels around, estimating the baby weighs six and a half pounds. To me, this sounds like the perfect weight -- but the baby isn't due for another month! By that time, s/he could be eight or even nine pounds! I begin to look at my options (as if I have any say in the matter): push out a baby the size of a bowling ball, or have a smaller baby a little earlier, in the same month as our adorable nephew's birthday, which I am desperate to avoid for completely illogical and emotional reasons. I know a bigger baby is considered a healthier baby, but ... maybe I just don't have enough faith in myself.

After feeling my tummy, the doctor looks at my file and gasps. "Oh, the baby was breech," she says. She feels around some more, then nonchalantly pulls on a glove and starts feeling around inside of me (sorry if that's too much information). I kind of hoped the exam was over. But I realize it's not part of the exam when she says, "Hmm, feels like a head."

"You can feel the baby's head?!" I ask. "How does a head feel different from a foot?"

I am so amazed she thinks she can feel the head that I actually don't pay attention to how she answers my question. But I think she says the head feels harder than a foot.

When she finishes, she asks me a question I can't comprehend because it feels as though all my internal organs are shifting back into place afterward. It doesn't hurt, exactly, but it feels so weird that I can't concentrate on what she's saying ...

... oh. She says I can wait until the ultrasound tech shows up in a couple hours to find out for sure how the baby is positioned.

I decide to wait until next week to do both my regular appointment (now every week) and the ultrasound at the same time, considering I've already spent more time here than I thought.

But after I make my appointment, I wonder if maybe I should have stuck around. Gone to get a smoothie and come back, even. Because I'm pretty sure if the baby is right side up (or at least not upside-down like s/he's supposed to be), my doctor's practice will deliver only by C-section, wah!

And then having a doula is useless.

And I still need to decide on a doula.

You can learn a lot from a dummy

Thursday, Aug. 3:

JP and I attend a "family and friends" CPR class tonight. It's not for people who need to get certified for their job, for example, but instead for people who want to know the basics if they need to spring into action in everyday situations (the most scary kind, right?). Most of the people in the class are expecting or already have infants.

Apparently, the methods have recently changed, the nurse instructor tells the class, which is the first to watch a new video showing the new guidelines.

And we all get dummies -- adult dummies and then baby dummies. (Thank goodness for the plastic bags to cover the mouth area so you're not making out with someone else's germs!) I think I must be slightly allergic to latex, rubber or whatever plastic was on the dummies because after a while, I had to push my dummy away from me and just watch. We also learned about choking and the Heimlich maneuver.

I recommend it!

It was $24 and three hours well spent -- but of course, no one hopes to ever have to use CPR on anyone.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Perfect timing

Tuesday, August 1:

My due date is now one month away.

One. Month.

And I'll be a mom.

Because we're over 35, many people assume either that JP and I tried to have children but couldn't until now, or that we haven't been married that long. (Sometimes I get lucky, and someone thinks I'm actually younger than I am. Sweet, dear darlings!)

A couple people have even had the nerve to ask me if we had to have fertility treatments to make this baby happen. When in all possible situations is it acceptable to come right out and ask someone about their reproductive capabilities? How is that anyone's business?

Mostly, though, people seem surprised JP and I have been married 11 years. Because by this time, people who have children on their agenda have school-aged kids by now. Some have teenagers.

(There is a small minority group made up of family and close friends who figured JP and I just weren't going to have children. Well, we showed them!)

No, the reason for our long wait to have this baby is a rather un-tasty junk food combo meal of work and family history.

JP and I got married just after starting promising new jobs. We lived frugally in a 600-square-foot apartment and then bought a house the following year. Life seemed to revolve around work (and work frustrations) and taking care of the house. We looked forward to weekend trips and outdoors adventures to blow off the stress and have some fun. Kids were far from our minds.

When would we have time for children?

Then JP started working for a new company. It offered a lot of “opportunity” but required him to start pretty much at the bottom, obligating him to work hard and put a lot of energy into being creative in coming up with ways to move up -- and moving up didn't happen as quickly as he'd have liked it to.

How could he support a child?

I also changed jobs. Then I got laid off in a dot-come takeover -- you probably know that tired story. But then I got laid off again. And again. Three layoffs, three years in a row. Depressing. Demoralizing. Demeaning to one’s diploma.

Not a good time to have a child.

While this was going on, for years I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children because they just grew into teenagers who hate their parents and bide their time until they can get the hell out and be on their own. And who needs that? Of course, that was me -- I was the teenager who hated my parents because all four of them (step parents included) were screw-ups who didn’t seem to notice my existence. (Unless, in the case of one parent, I could be squashed under your thumb to satisfy your need for complete control.) Without anyone I’d consider a good parenting role model, who was I to be someone’s parent?

Then a miraculous thing happened: The remaining parent in my life moved away and left me to grow into myself. To “find out who I am,” as some people like to put it. Blissfully parent-free. There was no one to judge me or tell me what I was doing wrong or question my decisions (well, only long distance). I didn’t need them, and they didn’t need me. Perfect.

And I found out that I didn’t really suck. That God don’t make no junk.

That forgiveness is a powerful thing and a sanity restorer.

I re-established a relationship with my mother. I learned to accept my stepmother (even though my father's not in the picture anymore -- because for years, she was my only mother.)

Being part of a family didn't have to be painful.

JP and I watched our friends’ families grow and enjoyed watching their children learn new things. One friend teased me about being a DINK (double income, no kids). They asked when we were going to have children. A health scare made me wonder how JP would remember me if I died, and I wished that I could at least leave him with a child to remember me by (a vain thought if I ever had one!).

Then last Christmas Eve at church, a beautiful family walked in and sat in front of us with their grown children. Amidst the beautiful, soaring music and glow of candles lit in everyone’s hands, I imagined a future loneliness into my soul and felt the piercing hollowness of JP and me being 50, 60, 70 and never having a young person in our day-to-day to fill us with life. JP and I are great together, but how much more rich we’d be with family like the one in front of us! A handsome son to make us proud. A beautiful daughter to bring joy into our old lives. Not a child to ignore or command as my parents did to me, but someone to love and cherish.

Christmas can really stir my imagination, I guess.

Little did I know we were already expecting a son or daughter.

I understand there’s never a perfect time to have a child, as people like to say, because if you wait for the perfect time, there will never be a perfect time.

Our perfect time is now.