My husband and I do not have children yet, but I want to start this as a place where I can keep track of so many little moments that have lead up to this moment, the moment when I trade in birth control pills for pre-natal vitamins, and what happens in the days, weeks, months beyond.
Let’s start before I even met my husband. I dreamed about a young girl with long, straight brown hair. She was probably somewhere around 4-6 years old. I woke up knowing she is the daughter I will one day have. Many years later, after we got married, my husband was in the hospital and had an HIV test done to rule it out (indeed, it turned out negative, but we had three long days between testing and getting the results. During this time, I dreamed of the same little girl. I was a nurse and she was with her mother, and she was very sick. She was throwing up, and her mother just needed a break. I held her to comfort her, and things changed and I knew now that she was really my daughter. I was scared in my dream because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to care for a child that sick. I don’t know if my future daughter was telling me that she will come to me from another mother, or that she will have big health problems, or just that she was scared that daddy could be really sick. But I know my daughter was trying to tell me something.
Not long after Mark and I started dating, we started “slipping” when saying things, saying what we would have stopped ourselves from saying aloud had we given a second thought. A comment from him, made a month in, about “this family.” One from me about children, when he said boys run in his family and I quickly blurt out, “no, we have to have at least one girl!” and he was surprised, asking, “we?” Our souls recognized each other right away, and we knew very early in the relationship that we would one day marry and have children.
We had only known each other a few months when we talked in very real terms about our future children. We imagined what they would be like. We pictured a family with one boy and one girl. Since then, almost four full years later, we still go back and forth on who will be older, but we will find out when I get pregnant. I have always felt very strongly about my daughter, and I feel that she will come into our lives first. But maybe our son will be pushy, or she will be shy, and he could some first. We will see. At this time we named our children. I love the name Charlotte, and we both had grandmothers (and me, an aunt who was the closest to a grandmother I had on my mother’s side) named Helen. So Charlotte Helen it is. Mark likes Adam, and had a cousin who died young in a tragic boating accident named Joel. So we agreed on Adam Joel, but only if Mommy can call him AJ and nobody else can. That will be her special nickname for him.
But what if we have two daughters, or two sons? We chose two more names, just to be prepared. Sarah Elizabeth, who will take on my own middle name. And Matthew David, who will have my father’s first name. But these names are like forgotten step-children – we chose them in case we need them, but we don’t talk about them.
We do talk about Adam and Charlotte, all the time. Seeing a father with a baby girl dressed all in pink at the mall, and I tell Mark, “That will be you and Charlotte some day, father-daughter bonding time at the mall. Probably buying something special for Mommy.” A boy in a commercial for cleaning products, and he is coloring all over the walls. “That’s gonna be Adam some day,” he tells me. “Yes,” I agree, “and Daddy’s gonna have to tell him not to do it anymore.”
It brought us very close in the first few months to think of us not as a couple, but as the beginning of a family. Everything was filtered through the lens of a family. I bought a wedding gown and Mark commented that maybe someday Charlotte will wear it. Mark has a collection of autographed baseballs, and I tell him that Adam will probably love them. For us, a discussion of whether we want children is irrelevant. We know we do. It’s just a matter of when. What timing will bring them into our lives? I leave that to Charlotte, who knows so much more than I do already. I will let her guide me. But that’s the beginning of another post…