I was waiting around before prenatal yoga class on Saturday when the question came that threw me off guard.
As a young first-time mom, prenatal yoga classes are way outside my budget, but I planned ahead and asked my parents for a membership for Christmas. This was my first class and I'd been looking forward to it for weeks—not just for the health and relaxation benefits, but for the opportunity to meet other new moms. I don't know many other pregnant women in Chicago, and I would love the chance to talk about changing bodies and labor plans with someone walking the same road.
I made sure to arrive early, and after getting signed in, I bounced eagerly to the waiting area with a smile on my face. Operation Making Friends was about to begin. I greeted some of the other waiting women and broke the ice with the obvious question: "So, when are you due?"
"June," said one lady. "June," added another. "July," said the third. "What about you?"
"Oh wow," I said, marveling at this bunch of early birds. "I'm due in April, actually... late April."
"April?" one lady said. "That's really soon!"
"I guess so," I said.
"So you must be totally ready, huh?" the lady continued.
I pictured my collection of baby gear, which currently consists of three infant White Sox jerseys, a fuzzy blanket, and a stuffed giraffe, all Christmas gifts from family.
"Not exactly," I said. "I'm planning to start collecting everything in February."
Just then the instructor called, "Ladies, time for class to begin!" so our conversation ended.
The class lived up to everything I had hoped—it was relaxing yet challenging, and I could feel my muscles straining with each pose. The next day I felt sore in that awesome post-workout way. I especially enjoyed the pro-life undertone to the class, however unintended; each time the instructor urged us to "Send peaceful energy and warm thoughts to your baby," I smiled as I touched my belly and thought about the beloved little person within.
But after I came home, I found myself unsettled. I couldn't get that lady's question out of my head. Should I be ready? Was I a bad mom for not being ready? Is it even possible to be ready for something as life-changing as your first child?
Surely I couldn't be the only mom out there waiting until the third trimester to start buying baby stuff. I decided to get back-up from a long-distance pregnant friend.
"Have you started buying baby stuff?" I texted her.
"Yep, we bought the stroller, car seat, bassinet and a sling carrier back in October," she said.
Hang on a second. This girl is due a month after me. How did she already have all that??
If I felt bad before, I felt worse now. Even my friend, who shares my happy-go-lucky, make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to life, was more ready than I was.
Of course I did the only logical thing at that point, which was to obsessively Google baby essentials and stroller comparison charts. I had been working on my "Stuff Baby Needs" list since I found out I was pregnant, but I hadn't felt the need to buy anything yet. Now it suddenly seemed incredibly urgent.
I spent so long agonizing over which sling carrier and car seat and breast pump would be best that I couldn't fall asleep that night. Visions of Bugaboo contraptions and cloth diaper detergents danced in my head, and I found myself agonizing, How on earth are we going to afford all this? Our budget has barely an inch of wiggle room these days, and baby stuff ain't cheap. It was hours before I could calm myself down enough to fall asleep.
Baby gear was still on my mind at work yesterday as I headed out to lunch with a lovely Mormon co-worker. She has a one-year-old baby girl and I had asked her to meet for lunch so I could pick her brain about all things birth and baby—my favorite topics these days.
But when I arrived at her home near campus, I was in for a surprise. After chatting for a few minutes, she said, "Ok, are you ready to see the baby stuff?"
"Sure," I said. She had previously mentioned that I could borrow some of her daughter's old infant things, so I figured she had a handful of tucked-away outfits or toys to show me.
She led me to a big storage closet and I paused in the doorway to gaze at the bounty within.
"You'll definitely want the stroller—it's good for infants to about a year old," she said. "There's the infant car seat, and here are all the cloth diapers"—she pulled out the biggest plastic bag I'd ever seen, filled with an enormous stash. "Let's see, what else… we have about a million swaddle blankets"—she gestured at another bag—"and here's the breast pump. You're ok with a used one, right?"
"Yes!" I nodded vigorously. I could hardly believe my eyes and ears.
"Ok! Now, I did find the nursing covers useful—they're over there—and here are my sling carriers." She pulled out a Moby wrap and showed me how to use it. She made it look so easy. "There's the baby bath tub—that will come in handy. My baby loved to take a bath before bed." She showed me the bouncy seat and Boppy pillow and baby swing, and I wondered if she was secretly my fairy godmother.
"You can take anything you want," she said. "Just pass it on to the next mom when you're done."
It seemed almost too good to be true. "This is an answer to prayer," I told her honestly, and she smiled in understanding.
"Just ask people to give you everything used," she said. "You'll get tons of stuff and you won't feel bad about passing it to another mom when you're done."
As I walked back to work half an hour later, clutching her "favorite" pregnancy book and a maternity dress she'd lent me, and with plans to return with my car for the rest of the stuff, I realized a great weight had been lifted off my mind. No longer did I need to compare baby gear and agonizingly decide what I would actually need. All of it was being given to me, free of charge—just about every item I'd included on my list.
I texted Frank the exciting news—all our baby gear! Free!—and thought about how silly I'd been to worry. Every time I agonize over something, whether it's finding a job in Chicago last spring or affording all our baby stuff now, God sends me a solution better than anything I could have dreamed.
And I remembered something my grandmother once said: "Every baby arrives with a loaf of bread under his arm." I had heard before that when you're open to life, willing to accept children lovingly, God will send whatever you need to take care of them. I could hardly believe how completely that had come true for us.
I may not be "ready" for the baby's arrival, at least not in the way the lady from yoga class meant. But I know that if there is one thing I will teach my baby, it's to trust God in all things and at all times. I have seen again and again that He never fails us. And in that sense, I think I'm as ready as I can ever be.