This is going to sound like a strange question. Maybe it is a strange question. I will ask it anyway.
My question is this: What does it feel like to have a baby when you really wanted a child, and you finally got what you wanted?
It’s a question that occurred to me for the first time this evening, triggered by a FaceTime conversation with my husband, who is in Brussels visiting a friend. Tonight, they are going out to watch Arrival. Overseas travel and going to the movies: both of these are things I used to love and which I have now accepted are no longer within the realm of possibility.
This is what I do know. I know what it feels like to have a baby when you were convinced, for years, that you would never have a child, that for some of that time you were deeply hostile to the idea of having a child, and that if you came around to the idea eventually, it was because you let go of a part of yourself that once felt essential to your identity.
It feels like this: a lovely surprise. It feels like wonder that something that once – to be frank – you found completely alien can be so filled with joy. It feels like astonishment that you can love another being so much, a person who cannot speak or walk, though she can smile (and it’s the smile that gets me every time). It is the thrill that never stops thrilling. If I share so many pictures of my daughter on social media, it is because I am so astonished at how marvelous she is.
RaRa is the maybe who became the definitely. She’s the possibility, the let’s-see-what-happens-if made flesh. But she is not the result of hoping, or wanting, or trying.
Which brings me back to my question. For those women who wanted a baby, and then had a baby, what does it feel like? Does it make the complete change of lifestyle less of an adjustment? The inevitable sacrifices easier to bear?
RaRa was never part of my plans. Now my entire reason for being centres around saving up for school fees. Things I wanted to do are now very unlikely. And tonight – for once – I’m sad about it. Or to put it more accurately: tonight, I’m being honest with myself about how I’m sad about it.
What does it feel like? I want to know.