How Having a Baby Changes You

I miss the freedom, I thought to myself the other day while trying to detain my 11-month-old son who crawled frantically across the Pergo floor to try and escape me. He smelled like rotting carrion on the side of the road on a hot day. It must have been the fruit and cheerios mixed together. I scooped him up and put my face in his little belly and blew some raspberries on his stomach. He giggled and laughed as I lay him down on the couch to change his poopy diaper. As soon as the pants come off, a meltdown ensues. He rolls and kicks and screams. He hates getting his diaper changed. While I’m trying to make sure poop stays off my in-laws’ very expensive furniture, I find myself in a daydream-type state. I wonder what life for us would be like if I hadn’t gotten pregnant.

My husband, Nick and I have been together since high school. On our fourth anniversary, when we were opening presents on Christmas morning, he had asked me to marry him. I said yes, and a year and a half later, we got married. I was working a very good job, we were making great money together, and we were doing excellent. We could afford anything we wanted. We had a brand new, flat-screen TV (when they were a new thing, I might add), one of the best and fastest computers you could buy, a brand new car, a beautiful apartment with more rooms than we really needed…we had anything and everything we wanted.

We would frequently eat out, go to the movies, hang out with friends, or just sit around and do absolutely nothing. We did a lot of that. Nothing, really. And it was nice. We could just do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, however we wanted to do it. There was nothing to stop us. We could just stay up late, drinking beer and having wild sex if we wanted to or play video games all night long. There was no reason to limit ourselves in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

My husband has a pretty subdued personality. He doesn’t like to draw any kind of unwanted attention to himself, so he is usually pretty quiet, maybe somewhat socially awkward. He would rather stay home and watch TV or play video games then go out to the bar with friends or be in any type of large-group environment. He likes to hang out with a few friends, on a nice, quiet night, having a few beers, no one getting too loud, and everyone going to bed relatively early. I, on the other hand, am almost completely opposite.

In my early 20’s we had no child, no real responsibility, fabulous jobs, and money to do whatever we wanted with. I have, what some people may call, an impulse-control issue. I see something. I want it? I get it. Whatever it is. Doesn’t matter. It’s that simple. I wanted to be a real-estate agent, so I did it. I wanted to quit that and do something else, so I did that. I just did whatever the hell I wanted. If I wanted to go out to the bar and get hammered on a Thursday night, then I would do it.

I had already been thinking of having a baby for a few months before Nick had asked me to marry him, so by the time we married, I had already been thinking about it for almost two years. I decided we should try and get pregnant, and see what happened. He was reluctant. We had a few scares over the years, but nothing serious. He knew I wanted to start a family. We hadn’t gotten pregnant in the first six years we’d been together, and after much “convincing”, I suppose he slipped-up on purpose and decided he was also ready to start a family.

I had been rehearsing this day in my head for quite some time at that point. I had taken a few pregnancy tests over the years, a few days late and scared…just trying to make sure. I never got a positive result, and I always wondered what I would do, how I would act, and what I would say the day I saw those two little pink lines. I was trying to get pregnant now. It was different. I wasn’t taking this pregnancy test out of fear; I was taking this one with hope. Well, maybe there was a little fear in there, too. I saw the plus sign, and immediately grabbed the other test in the box, praying I had some more pee left in me. That one said positive, too.

“Uh, Nick. Come here,” I said, not a yell, not a scream, but just loud enough for him to hear downstairs from in front of the TV.

“Whaaaaaaaat?!” he yelled back, annoyed. He most likely assumed I was going to ask him to do something.

“Come HERE,” I said again, and he came up the stairs into our bathroom, where a pregnancy test lay on the instruction sheet that was enclosed. He picked up the test, pulled it close to his face, set it aside and grabbed the instruction sheet.

“Are you sure you didn’t mess it up, or something?” He asked, his eyes huge, a half-smile, half- terrified expression on his face.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I said back chuckling. “How could you ‘mess up’ peeing on a stick and waiting?”

“I DUNNO!” He said back to the mirror, a look of fear on his face. His eyes were large, his mouth wide open,  rubbing his bristly, patchy beard. This was all becoming too real for him, I could tell. We just looked at each other and you could feel the anxiety, but you could also feel the happiness and the excitement. We both wandered back downstairs, where we sat on the couch, completely silent for the next 10 or 15 minutes,  pretending to watch TV, but neither of us really was.

Holy shit. I thought to myself. I know he was thinking it, too. We really did this. We made this happen. What was going to happen next? What do we do? What can’t I do? Oh, God, I’m pregnant now. Now I can’t drink, or eat too many shellfish, or roller blade. Then panic set in. Oh my God. Now I need to call the doctor and ask them what to do. It was all over from that point on. Nothing would ever be the same.

I immediately adopted and loved this new lifestyle. I traded in my late nights out with friends for day trips to the museum and walks in the park. Shopping became a new favorite hobby. Especially for baby things. How could you NOT buy baby things?! Over the months I was pregnant the excitement built even higher when we found out we were having a boy. This just reassured our ideas that we always get exactly what we want. It was a beautiful thing to watch my husband’s transformation from scared and unsure, to excited, happy, and looking forward to our future.

Nolan came into our home like a hurricane. We were only 24 years old. This was our first child. We had no clue what we were doing. After the one-hour labor fiasco I had just endured, my body stitched back together, and not being able to sleep more than a 2 hour stint at the hospital, by the time we came home, I was exhausted.  Neither one of us had any clue what we were doing, so everything was a two-man operation. One late night, he was having a middle-of-the-night bottle, and my husband went to change his poopy diaper. For some reason, he left the old diaper off while he turned around to grab a new diaper, and all I saw was a stream of poop flying through the air. It got all over our bed, Nick’s hands,  and the floor. My husband was gagging, and almost throwing up. I was laughing hysterically, clutching my chest, and pointing my finger at him. We quickly cleaned everything, and put Nolan in-between us, and just laid there and stared at his little, perfect face. My husband looked at me and said, “We have a family now. Our own little family.”

I then began to hysterically cry, realizing that my life was now more complete than ever. All I could see were the years to come – apple picking, carving Halloween pumpkins, opening Christmas presents, doing arts and crafts – all kinds of other corny things I had always looked forward to doing with my own family. Every Halloween it seemed so awkward to me to carve my own pumpkin alone. Now that would never be the case again.

Nowadays, when Grandma and Grandpa take the baby and we have a “night off”, we go home and relax…maybe even sleep. The last time we ate out at a restaurant was Panera. We have to go to “family-friendly” places now to drown out the sounds of a baby who wants his All-Natural Cheese Doodles. I still go out with friends once in a while, but I have become a much more responsible, laid-back person. I worry about money. We can’t go spending on frivolous things like we used to. My husband and I went to Wal-Mart the other day and bought a large package of diapers, a large box of wipes, 10 jars of baby food, some baby socks, some of his Cheese Doodles, and a few other things, and the total came to $130. Not to mention he grows so quickly he constantly needs new clothes.

Who could resist?

Having Nolan has definitely changed both of us for the better. We are much more responsible, less apathetic and lazy, and we both have a little person to take into consideration. Everyone says it, and it’s such a cliché, but “It’s not all about us, anymore.”  Even going to the grocery store is a production, now. We went from having more than enough time, money, and patience to having almost none of ANY of those, and we love it. When I sit watching his little hands shovel Spongebob macaroni and cheese one-by-one into his little mouth, I know we did the right thing. Every time a little old lady walks up to me in the store and tells me that I have the cutest baby she has ever seen, it just makes my life complete. I would say, having a child with my husband is the most satisfying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I would trade all the drunken nights and wild sex in the world for snuggling with my cute little companion for life, any day.

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