About a month ago I was talking to someone and telling her that in a lot of ways I feel like this blessed journey towards motherhood feels more like completing a checklist than preparing to welcome a new member of our family and embracing all the change that comes with it-
1) Find Agency- Check!
2) Find Surrogate- Check!
3) Go through fertility treatments- Check!
4) Achieve Pregnancy- Check!
5) Go to appointments- Check!
Of course, perhaps if I sat down to really consider how much this was going to change our lives forever I might be completely paralyzed! All right, not really, but people keep squealing and asking me "Aren't you soooooooo excited?!?!?!?!?" Well, yes, we're excited, but again, sometimes it feels more like a dot to dot puzzle, and when we finally connect all the dots, viola! Baby! In the meantime, we sort of bide our time between the dots, or wipe our brow with a "Whew! Check that one off the list!" I had wondered if that was part of it being a surrogacy or part of my personality or what, however, several friends who have been pregnant tell me that they can identify with that feeling, even though they were carrying their own child. It wasn't until the baby was placed in their arms that it all became real. I do think part of it, for me anyway, has to do with conceiving a child with medical treatments. They give you a calendar, you inject yourself with your specific drug cocktail every day, you visit the doctor every other day, or daily and on and on. It's not the miracle of making love with your spouse over a period of time and then one day peeing on a stick and seeing the plus sign. It is calculated and prescribed. So I was musing this over with someone and that person asked me, "What would make it feel real to you? What would make you feel your heart beat a little faster, and your anticipation grow? What would help you find the joy?" I thought for a moment, and then said, "Well, I guess decorating the baby's room." After all, if there's a place to put the baby, then it stands to reason that it would seem more real, right? And I like decorating and creativity.
Thus, a couple weekends ago Aaron and I journeyed to the mothership, the mecca of babyhood, the icon of infant idolatry...BABIES R US (you have to say that in your mind with a big, booming, echoy voice to get the effect that Aaron and I felt when we walked in the door). "Holy _____ (insert word of your choosing depending on how colorful your vocabulary is and it will suffice)", we thought. The size of half a target, all dedicated to apparently "necessary" items that people under age 3 or 4 need. We stumbled over to the Baby Registry counter, mouthes gaping open and pupils dialated, gave our information, and, although we insisted we were just going to look, were given what Aaron kept referring to as "the phaser" with the admonishment (in a perky, but maternal way), "You may say you're just going to look, but you should start marking whatever you think you might possibly be interested in, because you can always change it and add to it online or when you come into the store." Um. Okay. And then we were handed THE LIST.
THE LIST was a list of more than 200 item "MUST HAVES" for your registry checklist. Now, I was pretty little when my sister was born, but as far as I can remember we had diapers, bottles, an umbrella stroller, a crib, some clothes, a playpen, and pacifiers that we both refused to suck on. And that was about it...and we turned out ok. And then there was my mother. When she was born the Japanese had just been "evacuated" from the West Coast during World War II and "relocated" to internment camps. I think if she was lucky, she had diapers. No crib or stroller or anything like that...and she turned out ok. And I'm looking at THE LIST of 200+ items thinking, "Why the heck to babies need to have 200+ items these days???" I mean, they haven't changed much. Developmental progression is still the same as it has been for thousands of years. But Aaron and I were on a mission, to "find the joy" and "make it real" so we gamely waded in.
Ok, we more than waded in. We jumped in with both feet. We looked at cribs, strollers, carseats, high chairs, bottles and only God remembers what else. I've got enough material from this one journey practically for its own blog, or at least several entries, but to keep this entry manageable I'll limit it to the stroller section. Remember me, umbrella stroller kid? Well things have changed! There are Travel Systems, lightweight strollers, jogging strollers, full-sized strollers, activity strollers, double and triple strollers, stroller accessories, stroller gear, and on and on and on. And remember me, umbrella stroller kid? As we glanced down the aisle our eyes got bigger and bigger. But we are not ones to let a small sojourn to Babies R Us get the best of us, nay nay! So we jumped in with relish to test them out and decide what would work for our munchkin. And 30 minutes later we were just as baffled as when we started. Just when you think you've got one figured out, you move on to the next and it folds differently and its wheels lock differently and, if it's a "travel system" the carseat fits in differently. After spending an hour in the strollers aisle we were beat. We briefly explored other aisles of the store, but finally hit the wall staring down the bottle aisle. 10+ different brands, each with multiple sizes, nipples, shapes cleaning systems and other accoutrement did us in.
Overall our first foray lasted around 2 hours. And yes, we did experience "joy" and the "reality" definitely hit us. I've now enlisted 2 experienced moms to go back with me to help me figure out exactly what we really do need (which I coming to believe is very little of the list of necessary items) and the ins and outs of strollers. Nonetheless, the consumerism of "baby" everything everything was a bit mind blowing. Thus, about a week later, when I was ready to journey out again, I did so on my own terms and at my own pace. I went to a great consignment store near my house, and found a fabulous, like-new changing table for about 25% of retail cost. Now THAT (taking care of my child, taking care of our resources, and taking care of the planet by reusing things), to me, is finding my joy!