I don't see the point of pretending otherwise: I was terrified. Annoyed. Blindsided. I had created plans and sketched out timelines. All of this was supposed to take place in a very specific progression. I did not account for surprises. I wasn't prepared for oops.
Until we had to be, and so we were.
Prepared, yes, because we prepared. We discussed budgeting, doctors, living space. Once the initial shock wore off, once we were able to sit and think, and plan, that terror lost its hard edge and softened into fear. A parent's fear, the fear that is unending and relentless. It was the best fear I've ever known. It's the fear that closely precedes and then bleeds into love. She was a bundle of cells, a multiplying mass, and we loved her. We barely understood the blurry ultrasound picture, we barely understood the responsibility that awaited us, and we loved her.
Remember, remember. A year ago, I got a lot more sleep, stayed out later, watched more Netflix. I wasn't pumping milk three, four times a day or calling pediatricians or fretting over the frequency of someone else's poops. But a year ago, I was pretty directionless. I sat around a lot. Miserable was sort of my default. Eric was my bright spot, but often, my own cloud of miserable ennui would obscure his shine. I could only tell my friends so much. They could only help but so much. I just kind of existed.
Eve's arrival did not magically make everything better. Everything is actually 50 million times harder, because I'm running on so little sleep and so much more stress. But I feel like I'm thriving, rather than existing. Her presence gives me a purpose: I don't have the time to sit, much, because when she doesn't need me, I have to use that time to do the things I should have been doing a year ago. Why do I write like I'm running out of time? Eric and I, we've never been so productive. We've never been more consistently drained. But we've never been more fulfilled. I want to make my family proud. I want to make myself proud. I think I'm succeeding, slowly, in my own way. The path I'm on didn't wind itself around life's curves and corners the way I'd expected, but how boring, if it had. I'm happy here. And that's not a word I use often. But right now, in this moment, even though my right eyelid is a little swollen and I'm not sure why, and I haven't eaten yet, with Eve sleeping on my left and Eric ambling into the living room, and a pile of essays to grade beside me - I'm happy.