Things To Do Before Having A Baby

One of the things I wasn't expecting about marriage is how soon afterwards you start thinking about having kids. I'm sure it's not this way for everyone, of course---plenty of people have kids without being married, plenty of people get married and don't want kids---but for me, at least, it's been something of an eye-opener. And when I say it's been something of an eye-opener, I want you to imagine someone dropping a bucketful of ice down the back of my shirt just as I'm starting to fall asleep. That kind of eye opener.

Two weeks ago, Sean and I went up to Tahoe together, which is about a three and a half hour drive from San Francisco. Now, a three and a half hour drive, I've discovered, gives you ample opportunity to talk to one another, and while we've been talking to one another for fourteen years, we've never really properly brought up the subject of Babies, The Having Of. Oh, we've both agreed that we want babies, of course---I mean, that seemed like an important thing to get squared away before we pledged to spend the rest of our lives together ("Oh, whoopsadaisy, did I forget to tell you I'm allergic to children, darling? Sorry!")---but the actual timing of these mythical, potential, hypothetical babies had never really come up.

And damn, Internet, life goes fast! I was aghast to discover, for example, that it's been an entire year---almost to the day, in fact!---since I posted the world's most hideous and traumatizing swimsuit and then sighed with increasing relief as comment after comment came in saying "Oh my god, I totally had that swimsuit too!" (Thank you for that, by the way. I felt so much better knowing a whole army of us used to go out in public wearing those swimsuits. We should all totally meet up one day and wear them at the same time. BlogHer 2010 anyone? Up for a little 80s-swimsuit-wearing in New York City? I'm sure they'd let us lounge by that chichi roofside pool at Soho House.)

Anyway, Sean and I were both fairly startled, on our drive to Tahoe, to discover that babies are currently registering a lot closer on our Want That register than they ever had before, and also a trifle nearer on our Could Probably Handle That register as well. Not that I'm saying that you should start expecting any sort of Big Announcement in the near future or anything---oh no, not at all---but just....well, it was kind of exciting to be one step closer to thinking about the possibility of it all, I guess. Would it have his hair? (Hope so.) Would it have my eyelashes? (Hope not.) Where would it sleep? What we we call it? What we would do with it if we wanted to book a last-minute trip to Bhutan?

Oh, yeah. Right. That. I mean, you can't just leave a baby a few large mixing bowls of food and water and have the neighbor check in on him once or twice to make sure he hasn't peed on your bed or coughed up a hairball, I'm assuming.  

I'm thinking---and I'm wondering if you can tell me if this is true---that before you have a baby, there are some things that you need to do first. The most important ones for us, we decided, are to be living somewhere other than the apartment we're living in now---I love it but it's small, noisy, and entirely possible that the baby would be scarred for life after waking up from a nap to discover this---and for both of us to be happy and settled in our jobs and careers. On a slightly lower rung, I'd like to have started actually writing this book I keep thinking I want to write---as opposed to just making elaborate plot outlines for it in notebooks I buy specifically for the purpose---and we'd probably want to have got just a little bit more of this wanderlust out of our systems too. (As a handy bonus, this last one strengthens my We Should Totally Go To India! presentation I've been working on for months, as well.  It's in Powerpoint. I have a laser pointer. I'm going to wear a business suit when I deliver it to Sean. Also, I'm thinking graphs and pie charts.)

But, you know, life goes fast. You make plans to get things done and then you don't get things done, or you get waylaid somehow with other things, and who knows when you're ever really ready for what you think you're ready for, you know? And besides, I have this sneaking feeling that you probably never even feel like you actually are.

Answer me this, though: if you had about a year, give or take, before you thought you might just be ready for a baby---or at least ready to get the, uh, show on the road, as it were---what would you do with it? What would you accomplish? What would you make sure you did and what would you tell yourself not to take advantage of while you were doing it? If someone handed you that time and said now listen, you're never going to get back this specific period in your life ever again, how would you spend it? What would you do?

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