Up For Discussion

A Change Of Heart And A Leap Of Faith

Erin and Adam on safari in Tanzania. i i

hide captionErin and Adam on safari in Tanzania.

Courtesy of Erin Killian
Erin and Adam on safari in Tanzania.

Erin and Adam on safari in Tanzania.

Courtesy of Erin Killian

When I got involved in the beginning stages of The Baby Project this past February, I thought I was a few years away from trying to get pregnant.

At the time my partner, Adam, was deployed for seven months to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. He's a civilian analyst with a D.C. think tank, but was crunching data for an Army unit. He left last November. In early March, we met in Tanzania for his two-week leave.

We had just had our emotional reunion in the oppressive heat in the tiny Zanzibar airport and climbed into a white mini-van to go to the east coast when he said: "Let's try."

"What? You're crazy," I said.

I knew that Adam was the man for me. We had met online in June 2009, and I very quickly had no doubts that I wanted him as my life partner. I was and am deeply in love and a relationship has never felt more secure, more right.

But I had always assumed I'd be married before trying for children. What's more, the "babies" topic had been a point of contention between us. He wasn't sure he wanted them because he was worried about losing his independence (he's an adventurous man). At one point, while walking down the D.C. streets, I said to him: "You just have to tell me that you're an absolute no." He shook his head. "I can't do that." He also said that his greatest fear was that I'd leave him because of it.

We had long conversations where I sobbed in his arms — I knew if anything could break us, this would be it. And I couldn't imagine life without him.

I was 32 when I met Adam (I'm two-and-a-half weeks older than him). I turned 34 in Tanzania. I figured I'd keep the conversation going until I turned 35 and then make a heartbreaking decision — either give up the idea of children, or give up him. Neither was an option in my mind and every time I thought about it, I broke out in hives (OK, I exaggerate, but I was stressed.)

So when he said, let's just go for it, I really thought he was on drugs. Or that maybe he hit his head on the base in Afghanistan. Or an alien had taken over his body.

But I was game. I knew that Adam didn't make decisions lightly. I knew that he would be a great father, that he loved me, that we communicated well, that we were financially in a good place and that we would be in this together. And I knew that I didn't need to be married first, that he was totally and completely committed to me. I also knew that I was several days away from my fertile window — so being risky didn't feel like that great of a risk.

A few weeks later on April 1, back in my D.C. apartment, I had a pregnancy test in hand. It was a quiet Friday evening. Adam was on Skype. And I was 10 days late. I had kept him in the loop with every sign of pregnancy: feeling short of breath on my runs, my growing breasts and finally, that Wednesday morning, I woke up and felt like a cloud of hormones had descended on me. The thought of coffee, alcohol, red meat all made me nauseous. I didn't want to eat, but I was hungry. I knew I was pregnant. And my mind was racing — How quickly can we get married? Does it matter? How will my parents react? What do we need to prepare for a baby?

When I held up the unused pregnancy test to the camera, Adam said, smiling: "This isn't an April Fool's joke, is it? Cause if it is, I'm going to be really disappointed."

"Um, no, I'm not that creative," I said. "Hold on a sec. I'll be right back." And I ran off to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, we watched the vertical line appear. Adam cheered and high-fived the camera and I started laughing. Really? Really? We're having a baby? I was in disbelief. Even though my body had known, my mind took a while to catch up.

I emailed my doctor on Sunday. He called me right away and told me to come in to confirm the blood test on Monday morning. When I arrived, he said, "You should be at six weeks, let's just do an ultrasound." I jumped up on the table, and a few minutes later, I saw the heartbeat between the mass of cells. Euphoria rushed through me.

"How can we get Adam involved?" my doctor asked.

"I can bring my computer in and we can Skype?" I said.

A week later, my doctor came in early. We went to the sonogram room and I called Adam on Skype. He was sitting in his bare-bones office in Bagram. A few other guys were in the room. Adam's headphones were on. "Hi doc!" he said. We called an assistant into the room, and she held the computer up to the sonogram machine, while I laid back on the table. "I can see it!" Adam said. "Wow!" He could see the heartbeat even though he was 7,500 miles away. And though I couldn't hug him, I felt like he was in the room with me.

I checked my email as I walked out of the doctor's office and I had one from Adam, waiting for me: "THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Experiencing the first trimester long-distance wasn't an issue. I told Adam he didn't miss anything — all I was doing was sleeping and eating and sleeping (kind of a like a baby). And I was watching more TV than usual and tearing up while watching "60 Minutes" and "The Biggest Loser." But what I did miss was having him by my side when I slowly told friends the news as I saw them. Some screamed with delight, some jumped up and down, some looked at me blankly and their jaws dropped. A few said: "Just curious, and I'm not judging, but why did you choose to do it this way?"

My answer was, invariably, "It felt right." I took a leap of faith. And it paid off.

Adam later told me that he realized his hesitation had nothing to do with having kids and everything to do with finding somebody he was excited to raise them with.

He got home on June 13. Our baby is due Nov. 28. And we plan to get married next year.

How many of you made an unexpected or untraditional decision to have a baby? We want to hear from you.

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