Back in early September, as I slogged through one of the many 12-plus-hour work days that go hand-in-hand with running summertime festivals, I thought to myself, “when I get back to Denver, I think it’s time to quit Saturday bartending again and just enjoy my weekends off.”
While I knew I would miss having the extra disposable income (let’s be honest here: it’s sneaker money), the lure of two days off per week to relax was becoming a stronger siren song, particularly in that moment when I was probably in the hot sun unloading a U-Haul full of festival equipment.
The timing lined up perfectly. My first shift back after the festivals would be September 21, so I could conceivably give my two weeks’ notice, work my final shift the day before my birthday, and call it good after that.
But during the tight window when I was home between the seafood and music festivals, Alex gave me some news so exciting and enormous that immediately made my priorities shift. All of them, every single one.
That’s right, folks: Next May, we’re having a baby!
For those first few weeks, through the end of festival season and then into our road trip through New England and Canada in early October, the news was so surreal that it was difficult to believe it was actually happening. Obviously there were changes in the immediate short term — certain foods were quickly off the menu for Alex — but reality definitely hadn’t sunk in. One thing that did strike me straight away was, “well, no more shoes. That frivolous purchasing habit is officially on the backburner.” Then I went and immediately bought a pair of toddler-sized Jordans.
Reality really struck at the 8-week mark, when we visited the prenatal clinic for our first sonogram. We’ve all seen barely-there babies in tough-to-decipher black and white ultrasound photos, or seen the process depicted on TV, but not a single thing in the world could’ve prepared me to see that little heart pounding away at a million beats a minute on the monitor above me. New life, man. It immediately brought me tears of joy.
Alex has been tracking the development in an app that gives week-by-week size comparisons, so we’ve gone from a chickpea all the way to a mango now, at the 19-week mark. Our 12-week appointment gave us the chance to find out the sex, and after some umming and ahhing we decided we’d rather find out than have it be a springtime surprise, and now we know: we’re having a baby girl. Seeing her head, arms and legs in the 12-week sonogram also had me wondering whether someone nearby was cutting onions.
Alex has been a trooper through and through, and mother and baby are doing well. She’s starting to show a little bit, which just enhances the surreality, and we’ve started the daunting process of putting together a baby registry and a list of all of the things we’ll need when As Yet Unnamed Baby Girl arrives.
Of course, there’s only so much preparation we can do, because when the due date comes, we’ll be thrown head-first into the deep end of parenting. Incredibly the most consistent piece of advice I’ve been given is “everyone else had no idea what they’re doing either, so you’ll be just fine.” For someone who’s a major planner who must consider absolutely every outcome of everything, this is surprisingly reassuring?
It’s not without its stresses though. As is fairly common knowledge, the healthcare system in this country is nothing short of nightmarish, and even the preliminary medical bills we’ve received have been bordering on obscene. I can’t imagine they’re going to get any better, but the good news is that I work for a company which offers great benefits and made it very easy for me to have Alex added to my coverage. That’s just one more stark reminder of how quickly the cost of unavoidable medical situations can get out of hands for those not as privileged as we are to have employer-based insurance.
Healthcare dystopia or not, I’m sure every parent and parent-to-be is in a constant state of mild concern about things far out of their control. I’ve already caught myself wondering who’s going to teach her to drive (IT’S FIFTEEN YEARS AWAY) and how in hell I’m possibly going to help with homework, two decades after graduating school myself. But that’s overshadowed by my absolute excitement to meet her and watch her grow into her own person and how she takes on the world (as a dual citizen by birth, no less!) God knows she’s gonna have a world’s worth of couches to crash on when she goes to see it all for herself.
But first: learning to hold a baby. And learning to change dirty diapers. Something tells me 2020 is going to be the most educational year of my life.