Sometimes it’s a call in the middle of the night.
Sometimes it’s a long-awaited meeting.
You can try to prepare however you think best — read the recommended books, talk to families who’ve done it, go to support groups — but I’d wager that it doesn’t matter how much prep you’ve done, there’s always a point at which you’re blind-sided by the experience of bringing a new life into your home and into your heart.
People, friends and well-meaning strangers both, will say things like, “I bet you just knew!”, or “it was love at first sight, wasn’t it?” and though you say, “Yes!” as enthusiastically as you can, some days (most?), you’re really not so sure.
The first few days you spend with your heart lurching into your mouth at every phone call in case it’s the one you dread, the “they’ve changed their mind” notice.
The first few weeks you spend nearly every waking minute searching for bottles, bedding, and blankets because you either didn’t have a chance to buy them beforehand, or you were too scared to presume too much on your luck.
You spend a lot of time watching your child, thinking how beautiful they are, but also how surreal it is to suddenly have a living, breathing baby in your arms.
There are days, usually in the middle of colic or teething misery, when you wonder if you did the right thing, if you are the right thing for this child.
In your worst moments, when the lack of sleep and the absence of support is taking it’s inevitable toll, you will begin to wonder just why you agreed to do this crazy thing. But as soon as the thought is formed, you’ll remember why: because you wanted to love them.
And you will.
Not right away, as the well-wishers would like to have you tell them. But over those days of mushy meals, and those nights of soggy blanket changes, through the weaning and the learning to walk, you fall deeply and hopelessly in love.