Prior to having children, I had all of these visions, or should I say delusions about how all of the perfection of raising children would go down. My doctor was skeptical that I could have children without assistance, which was no problem, because my husband and I weren’t ready for children, giving us ample time to save up for the assistance needed. This was delusion number one.
Delusion number two came with the gender of the children we would have in our future. I just knew God was going to give us loads of girls, who would twirl in their tutus and have their daddy wrapped around their little polished fingers.
Delusion three was that we would have it all figured out prior to having children. Go ahead and have a good long laugh at our expense. We were young and stupid.
I ended up getting pregnant right after our honeymoon. On the pill. Having periods. With the thought that I couldn’t get pregnant. I was exhausted, which we chalked up to anemia, or jet lag, or a busy schedule. Being pregnant never once crossed my mind until we were having dinner at a friends’ house on a Sunday night. The husband was in residency with my husband, and the wife was a family practitioner. ‘Any chance you could be pregnant?’, she asked. No. No chance in hell.
The next morning, I took a pregnancy test and it drew two dark blue lines before I could even finish peeing on the stick. I fell off the toilet and proceeded to cry my eyes out. My best friend took me to my friends’ office where the blood work confirmed it: I was pregnant. Like, real pregnant. Close to second term pregnant.
My best friend insisted she take me to the hospital to tell my husband. He’ll be over the moon, she said. I handed my husband the blood work results and the color drained from his face. Sweat soaked through his scrubs and he hit the floor, muttering, ‘I’m not ready, I’m not ready.” Patients’ family members and other doctors walked by asking if he was okay, and my best friend made a break for it. He was not, by the way. And, a free piece of advice: never, and I do mean never, tell someone you are pregnant at their work. That scenario can go south, quick.
My best friend, my mother and my husband came to the ultrasound. Remember how I told you I was convinced it was a girl? Immediately, an appendage showed up large and clear on the screen. Everyone started squealing and I was filled with dread.
“Let’s call my parents!” my husband exclaimed. I wasn’t calling anyone. I was devastated.
What was I going to do with a boy? I knew nothing about boys. I knew makeup, and hair, and art, and feminism, and all things girl. I racked my brain and I could come up with nothing at all I knew about boys. They don’t even make cute clothes or nursery bedding for boys.
And then it hit me: I was terrified. Not only did I know nothing about raising children, or babies for that matter, I knew nothing about little boys. How was I supposed to do this? And, for the most part on my own with my spouse at the hospital most hours of the day and night. Even now, ten years later, I can remember clearly that pit of fear in my stomach.
Right after we found out that we were having a boy, I went to a church service with one of my oldest mentors, Ms. Nancy. Sitting on the hard wood pew of the Holy Cross Church in Shreveport, waiting for the service to start, I confided my fears in her. That I was only prepared to bring a feminist into the world, but not a boy.
She looked at me. “You’ve missed the point, dear,” she said to me. “Where do you think the best men come from? Strong, feminist women like you are who raises feminist men.”
I knelt down to pray and prayed with all of my might for God to give me the strength to raise a son who saw everyone as an equal, saw the good in the world and felt loved.
I still felt terrified. But, with a renewed sense of ‘I can do this.’ That was until the day I delivered our little boy early, ten years ago today.
I went in for a checkup, and had an emergency C-section 13 minutes after I walked into the office.
If you’ve never thought about how long 13 minutes can be, set a timer. It’s a really long time, a lifetime in the moment. Thankfully, my dad had driven me to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well. My best friend was visiting her grandmother on another floor and came down. My husband and mom made it with seconds to spare.
Being wheeled into the operating room, I still wasn’t ready. I was still terrified. What if I screw him up? What if people hurt him? What if, what if, what if…..
And then our perfect little golden hair boy was pulled from my womb. His hair was so golden it glowed under the lights. Before he was taken away, I was able to kiss his frowning, angry face.
The first time the nurse brought him to me, I was alone in my room, with my dad asleep on the couch. She held him up to me, and said, ‘meet your little boy.’ He looked at me, and his mouth formed a perfect ‘O’, as if to say ‘oh, there you are’, and then slowly looked at the nurse.
Then I knew. This is what unconditional love is. It was so overwhelming, even now I tear up thinking about that moment. There is no limit to what I would do to love him and protect him.
Today, on his tenth birthday, we couldn’t be more proud of him, of who he has become. He is kind, mindful, a wonderful older brother, and, yes, a budding feminist. He has taught me to look fear in the face and see the greatness in the experience and I couldn’t love him more for it if I tried.