I was standing on our friend’s porch, one hand clutching my cell phone, the other holding my drink. The sun was trickling through the tree branches in the front yard, and I was feeling a major shift in life as I knew it.
It was a warm early Spring evening, one where you get all excited and jumpy inside because you can feel that summer is just around the corner, and the long, cold winter is hopefully behind you. Only minutes earlier, I was inside the house, laughing and talking and being a carefree adult with our friends. But now, I was standing in the quiet outside, unable to shake what had happened earlier that day.
You see, earlier that day, one of my best friends had a baby.
I remember sitting with her the previous summer in a little café in her home town when she told me that she and her husband were going to start trying for a baby. I felt a little shiver run up and down my spine when she said it. Were we old enough to start “trying” for a baby already?? The short answer was of course we were, but the long answer was full of disbelief, a little excitement, and a lot of terror. Later that day we lay in the sun on a boat, and I took a picture of her sunbathing in her bikini, teasing her that it could be the last picture of her in a bikini before she got pregnant. We all laughed, because it surely wouldn’t happen THAT fast.
Except it did. When she called me with the news, I was sure she was kidding. The first time I saw her baby bump and she told me about all of the crazy things about being pregnant that nobody tells you, I had a mini panic attack. I remember staring at her, wide-eyed and yelling “No deli meat??? No soft cheese??? No hot baths??? You’ve got to be KIDDING ME!”
A couple months later we learned something may be wrong with her baby. I remember her voice vividly as she told me the news. That night while meditating, I had one of the clearest visions I have ever experienced, of my friend holding her sweet baby after birth. As it played out in my mind, tears spilled out of my closed eyes and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that everything would be ok. I told her and we both cried, and I was again reminded about how life continues to surprise you.
Your first close friend to have a baby kind of shakes your world up a little bit. It makes you think about where you are in your own life and HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THE LITTLE GIRL I PLAYED BARBIES WITH GROWING UP IS GOING TO BE A MOM?? How is that possible? One night at the gym, I was on the elliptical machine, watching tv when a commercial for diapers came on. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That was going to be my friend’s life now. She would have to worry about things like buying diapers and deciding if she was going to stay home with the baby or if she went back to work who would watch the baby and things like being completely responsible for ANOTHER HUMAN LIFE.
Hers was the first baby bump I ever touched, the first time I ever felt a baby hiccup in utero. She was the picture of perfection, with her tiny little bump. She made it look so easy.
So that early afternoon when I got the news that my best friend had officially become a mother to a beautiful, healthy, lovely baby, my world sort of shook a little.
The first time I held her baby, I fell in love with her. I was absolutely terrified to hold her, sure I would break her. It was clear I had no sort of maternal touch like most women do, but it didn’t matter. I loved her. Will and I went home that night with a sweet, new baby glow around us. The kind of glow you get after holding a sweet, sleeping baby for a little while and then getting to go home without worrying about diaper changes and breast feeding and SIDS.
The next night I went back and this time the baby was a little fussy. I got to see a diaper change, breastfeeding, crying, and spit up. In short, I got a little one hour glimpse into the real life with a baby. As I was leaving that night, my friend hugged me and said “Go have fun tonight! Enjoy it while you still can!” She was semi-joking, but those words were like a ticking time bomb in my head. I did as instructed. I had fun until 4 am. I was on a hell-bent mission to savor my days before becoming a mom. That night as I soaked up being truly young and free, I’m sure anyone watching me from the outside could see I was grasping desperately at time. “NOT YET!!” I was screaming inside. “I’M NOT READY YET!!”
So, of course, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant two months later. I must have sensed it in my bones. I must have subconsciously known my “free” time was slipping away. My friend became my constant advisor. Texts comparing our pregnancies were exchanged every week. I called her crying with morning sickness and she promised me it would end. I called her on the verge of tears when I was nine months pregnant and just OVER IT and she made me laugh. I pressed her for every single detail of her birth and clung to her words like a life raft.
After Gia was born, I asked her every gross, extremely private question you can think of after giving birth. She answered them all. She gave me hope. When she came to hold Gia, I saw the look of love in her eyes. She promised me things would get better as I tried to avoid breaking down into tears because this was HARD. She sent me the texts I needed at all the right times. Encouraging me, reassuring me, and telling me it was ok if I was a little sad on her first birthday, because it had been such a big year, for a lot of reasons.
When I found out she was pregnant again, I looked at her with pure terror. By this point, you probably know I cling desperately to the status quo, resisting any change that threatens to come my way. But there she was, ready to add to her family again.
And today I woke up to the news that that precious baby has arrived. So I wanted to take the chance to celebrate the friends who go first, the ones who show us its all going to be okay. Friends who remind us that we can do hard things. Friends who are there to laugh with us and cry with us and friends who have been there when we need their unique expertise.
Cheers to the friends who go first <3