An Arm and a Leg

Dear Baby Tela, Savannah, Zelda, Ethel, Wilhelmina, Fern, Coleesha, Minerva, Ginger, Agnes, Francis, Lydia, Joan or Martha,

Your dad told me there was a little girl in his store the other day. She was looking at the Shrek merchandise and picked up a packet of those temporary tattoos. She turned to her mom and asked what they were. Her mom told her that they were tattoos. She asked why, and her mom was a little confused. She clarified, “Why are they tattoos?”

He’s looking forward to answering those kinds of questions from you. Questions that start with why. Like why do pickles have bumps? Why are things the things that they are? I’m looking forward to hearing more of those answers, myself.

The other day, Dutch wrote a great post about how lucky he is to be able to spend so much time with his little girl. I printed it out and gave it to your dad to read. He’s always wanted boys because he feels a certain pressure to pass on his name. But when it comes down to it, I can see in his eyes that he will be just as delighted if you turn out to be a girl (so will I).

I’ve dreamed of having a girl since long before we started to plan for you. I sometimes felt bad in those dreams, knowing that James wanted boys. I felt like giving birth to a baby with two X chromosomes was all my fault somehow. When I’m awake, I know how crazy that is. When we are awake and discussing your arrival, we agree that a girl would be great. And a boy would, too. As long as you’re you. Our lists of names go on and on, both sides filling in with jokes and laughter, even the occasional pause of mutual agreement on something that might actually suit you, suit all of us.

There’s a very common stereotype with females. It has to do with spending money. But when you’re a baby, I don’t think there’s really any way around getting your parents to drop an arm and a leg on even just the basic things that you need. Like prenatal care, for instance. After meeting our deductable for the year, paying what we were told in advance we would have to pay, including copays and anticipated hospital costs, we still receive these nickel and dime bills in the mail every so often that make us laugh a little. Obviously, insurance billing is not an exact science, but I guess you never realize that until you find yourself dealing with a larger condition that needs more attention than an annual checkup.

You will also require bedding and clothing, diapers, wipes, a car seat, stroller, and I don’t know, swings or saucers, and probably a thousand other items that will make our transition to parenthood as convenient as possible. And that’s just for your babyhood. So don’t expect designer anything. We don’t play like that. If you want expensive toys and pay-for-the-label clothes, you can go ahead and get a job to pay for those luxuries yourself. Because I hear it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child these days, depending on who you ask. That’s a lot of dough. And it’s already started. And I admit, that’s another one of those things about parenthood that I find pretty scary.

But you’ll learn about all sorts of financial stuff in good time. I hope that we can pass on everything that we’ve learned about responsibility in a way that you can understand and implement in your own life. Because we try to do well for ourselves, for you, like paying our debts and living within our means. And even if only some of our lessons stick, at least you will always have us to depend on to find more answers as you go along and make your own mistakes.

I just hope you will know without a doubt that love is free and priceless. If you have that in your life, it makes things a whole lot nicer all around. You’ll still worry about silly things like money and the bigger “whys” of the world, but if you have people around to depend on, to talk you through, to worry right along with you, the days will not seem as dark as they might otherwise. You’ll start with us, the ones who share your blood, but you’ll find so many others to love along the way, who will love you just as much. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to about being your mom, seeing how your heart will grow.



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