When my husband and I discovered I was pregnant, like every other parent we were delighted and terrified in equal measure. Our daughter was very much wanted, though *whispers* our plan to start a family was not exactly spurred on by my broodiness. Or his.
I'd always anticipated being a younger mum (mid-twenties, as opposed to mid-thirties; which is actually not that young, biologically-speaking). Only the closer I came to my 'ideal-mum-age', the less ready I felt. And the longer I demurred.
I thought about the world we live in; and from a detached perspective, I decided that bringing a child into it was not the kindest thing for us to do: there is such capacity for hurt and harm and hardship. As a would-be mother, I was in the omnipotent position to ensure with absolute certainty that no child of mine would ever have to endure the pain of a broken heart; a broken bone; a broken promise.
Then, as my biological clock began ticking, I found myself in a moral quandary.
Ultimately, though we were not feeling especially broody, the torrid dread of regret usurped the long list of cons we were adding to every day: a superficial life of luxury lost out to the primal lure of Mother Nature. And so we decided to try.
In the same way that once upon a lifetime ago I used to gear myself up to go for a long run, I began to mentally prepare for the life-long marathon of becoming a parent.
But if I was apprehensive, my husband was utterly terrified. His biggest fear was of what a baby would do to us and our relationship - he was worried I'd neglect him with the arrival of a baby. I was unconcerned and tried to reassure him: our marriage was strong and durable; a baby would only bring us closer; watching him with our child could only serve to deepen my love for him.
When I quickly fell pregnant with our daughter, we took it as a sign that she was ready to be a part of our lives, and we embraced the impending upheaval completely.
I cannot understate the cataclysmic disruption an infant causes. I'm not talking the carnage of baby-related paraphernalia (though be under no misapprehension - when they require entertainment, that's a whole other aspect of disarray). I'm referring to the foresight my hubby had. I'm usually the one to have a sense of anxious foreboding in delicate matters such as these, while hubby is generally laid-back; blasé; nonchalant.
With hindsight, I may have been somewhat naïve. Fine, I hold my hands up - I was undeniably ignorant; possibly edging towards arrogant. While all the things I believed were true, it transpires that actually, a little person can comprehensively - and catastrophically - alter the dynamic of your relationship. And the capacity they hold to do so is disproportionately colossal for their size! (In roughly the same ratio that their high-pitched squalling is far greater than one would expect from such tiny lungs.)
Suffice to say, it has taken until our daughter is not far off 18 months old for us to regain some equilibrium. (I can't be certain, but the fact she's just started sleeping through the night may be more than a simple coincidence.)
My intention is not to frighten parents-to-be; that won't achieve anything positive. But I do think it's an imperative to be aware of the inevitable challenges you'll face as a couple. Forewarned is forearmed, and an anticipation of difficulties may help prevent a situation of bewilderment. Because having total faith in my marriage and refusing to accept we were vulnerable meant that I was rocked to my very core to learn we're fallible, after all. My shock was absolute, and I'm not ashamed to admit I floundered for a while there.
Having said that, I've also seen that despite our fallibility, we remain unbreakable, if not quite untouchable as I had mistakenly believed (so much so I had it engraved on my husband's wedding gift).
Fledgling parents are so utterly attentive to their newborn, it's highly unlikely the infant will be the most vulnerable entity in the home; there's an irony in that.
If you take equal good care of your marriage, you'll come through the other side with the best possible gift for your new child - a secure family.