My first visit to New York was in the fall of 2004, a month before the presidential election. I came to visit my then-boyfriend who was here for a few weeks doing a rotation for med school. Exactly three years later — almost to the day — I moved here — this time, to live with Drew, the man I’d been cross-country dating for the last year and a half. We moved to Brooklyn in June of last year and by fall, I felt at home, finally, nestled on our little tree-lined block, ten minutes from Prospect Park. I spent many a late summer and fall afternoon riding my bike along the park loop, just as I had in Central Park before that and the lake front in Chicago before that.
I do my best thinking on a bike, and last fall the topic I pondered the most was motherhood and when I wanted to have a baby (Drew had already made it clear he was ready whenever I was, and the sooner the better). You can’t live in Brooklyn and not think about parenthood. I once heard someone describe this borough as having an aggressive presence of babies and that’s exactly right. To put it in perspective, I started a new moms’ group in my neighborhood a few weeks ago, anticipating an isolating winter ahead if I didn’t make friends with other women having babies, and in less than a week I’d connected with 15 other new mothers (or mothers-to-be) within five blocks of me. In fact, in the last two weeks, five of us have given birth (all to boys!). That’s a lot, right? I mean, for a relatively small urban neighborhood?
Anyway, my point is: you can’t escape babies in Brooklyn — at least, not in my part of Brooklyn, and so, on my bike rides last fall as I passed countless women carrying their infants in Ergos and Byorns and Moby wraps, I thought a lot about when I’d want to have my own little mini me (or mini Drew). I went back and forth and back and forth, afraid — petrified, really — of making a definitive decision. What if it turned out I couldn’t get pregnant? What if I could? What if it took a really long time? What if it happened right away? Every scenario seemed really fucking scary, and as much as I wanted to put off the decision-making indefinitely — and all the decisions that would inevitably stem from this one — I was 34 and knew the clock was ticking.
And, so I decided: I’d have a baby in June of 2012. That meant I could have one more round of seasons as a non-pregnant person. I could ride my bike through the following summer and drink as much as I wanted and then get knocked up in September, right after my 35th birthday. I’d have my baby just in time for warm weather and Drew and I could maybe even take the baby to the ocean after it was born and tell him about the world on the other side. It’d be great.
But then last December I was laid off from my full-time job and had to do some quick thinking. My priorities suddenly shifted. I woke up on New Year’s Day, after spending a holiday season with Drew, just the two of us, and I decided I didn’t want to wait any longer. 2011 was the year I was going to create a new life. A new life for me… and well, a new life. A new person. Three weeks later I was pregnant.
I spent a lot of the last nine months since then thinking about what this time in my life would be like. Would I fall in love with my baby right away? Would I suffer from postpartum depression? How would a baby change my relationship with Drew? How would it affect my friendships? Would I be able to care for a newborn and still maintain this website? Would I go bonkers staying home with a baby all day, everyday? And while I still don’t have answers to most of these questions — except the first one; that’s a “yes.” And, well, let’s be honest; the last one is kind of a “yes” too! — I know I made the right choice moving forward.
I don’t know that I became, like, this new person the second Jackson was born. I still don’t quite identify with the word “mother,” and there’s a part of me every day that longs for my old life. But I’ve said this before: always, at every point in my life there’s a part of me that longs for who I used to be. That was true when I was 28 and true when I was 20 and it’s true now. But, exhausted as I am — as bone tired and scared and a little confused — I’ve never been so present in my “now,” or excited about my future — about the life that lies ahead. I can’t wait to watch this little guy grow up into his own person, with his own thoughts and ideas. I can’t wait for my family to get to know him, and to teach him things and to show him the world. And most of all, I can’t wait for all he’s going to teach me. If there’s one thing I’ve figured out pretty quickly it’s this: I still have so much to learn. And he’s just the teacher I’ve been needing.