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Parenthood means taking things as they come

Parenthood has changed the way Meagan teaches: Every student in her classroom, she now knows, is someone’s child, “someone who loves their kid as much as I love mine."

Meagan and Nate with daughters Evelyn (left) and Ruth.
Meagan and Nate with daughters Evelyn (left) and Ruth.Read moreGerri Ingerson

THE PARENTS: Meagan Ingerson, 35, and Nate Adams, 35, of Kensington

THE KIDS: Evelyn (Evie) Adams Ingerson, 3; Ruth Adams Ingerson, born Aug. 28, 2021

AN EARLY TWO-KID CHALLENGE: Restoring Evelyn’s schedule after a few days with her grandparents (abundant snacks, a later bedtime) while parenting a newborn who had no routine at all.

Nate owned three decent shirts. And when Meagan saw him wearing the salmon-colored one with thin white stripes, the shirt that perpetually wrinkled even when just-pressed, she began to laugh.

What Nate didn’t know was that Meagan had dreamed a month or so earlier that he’d proposed to her while wearing that very shirt. He also didn’t know that she’d already found the ring, cached in the drawer of his desk.

Still, he managed to eke some surprise from the occasion: a dinner at Zahav, followed by his proposal on the Race Street Pier, followed by a meetup with exuberant friends and family at the Memphis Taproom.

That happened three years after they met — ”the way all people our age meet,” Nate says — through an online dating app. Meagan canceled their first in-person date — ”It was a Tuesday; it was my second year teaching [fourth-graders]; I was tired,” she explains.

The following week, she messaged Nate and they arranged to meet at a now-defunct bar that offered $3 “mystery beers” in brown paper bags. She recalls that Nate “looked sort of like Benjamin Franklin, with long hair and a weird coat.”

After their next date, coffee in Center City that segued to the Christmas Market and then McGlinchey’s Bar, Nate left thinking, “OK, this is a nice person who has no interest in me.”

The third time, he was frank: “I didn’t think you liked me.” Meagan replied, “Oh, but I do like you.”

That was December 2012. The following summer was a relationship litmus-test: Could the two manage six weeks apart while Meagan attended a teacher training program in the Netherlands? Nate’s conclusion, after a stint of Skyping and checking Meagan’s Facebook page for new photos: “OK, we’re in this. This is a real thing.”

They married in July 2016 at the Awbury Arboretum, where Nate’s large extended family — 22 aunts and uncles, 34 first cousins — made up half of the 150 guests. A pizza truck provided dinner; squirt guns offered respite from the heat.

“One of the things we agreed upon pretty early in living together was that we both wanted to have kids. Multiple kids,” Nate says.

They agreed to wait a year, until after their delayed honeymoon to Croatia, coinciding with their first anniversary. Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Meagan noted a “faint positive” line on a pregnancy test, a glimmer later confirmed by an OB and an ultrasound.

Meagan channeled her anxiety into logistics and organizing: reading books and blogs, poring over Pinterest for nursery-decor ideas. “I tried to focus on supporting Meagan and not leaving all the emotional weight up to her,” Nate says.

Evelyn — they’d learned they were having a girl — was a week late, despite Meagan’s efforts, including long walks and acupuncture treatments, to bring on labor. They headed to Pennsylvania Hospital for an induction on a Sunday night. But not much happened for the first 22 hours: Meagan dilated slowly; they ate gummy bears and slept fitfully in hospital beds. Finally, a Pitocin drip kicked her labor into high-gear; Evelyn was born four hours later.

“I watched Evelyn come into the world, and my first thought was: Oh, my God. We’re in so much trouble. Who lets people just have a kid? How come there’s not an adult in the room?” Nate recalls.

But as soon as he watched Meagan calmly cradle their daughter, his panic eased.

“I remember being in awe, and also being very overwhelmed and stressed,” Meagan says. “I was also in love with her, so glad the labor was over and glad she seemed OK.”

At home, she struggled with breastfeeding; they both were startled to realize that babies needed to learn how to sleep. “There were a lot of weight-gain concerns, sleepless nights, lactation consults, pumping anxiety,” Meagan recalls.

“It was hard, but we never regretted it for a second,” Nate says. “There was never a question about: Did we do the right thing?”

They hoped to start trying to conceive again in spring 2020, but COVID-19 meant Meagan couldn’t even get a doctor’s appointment to remove her birth control. It was December before she learned she was pregnant.

“We didn’t know if they were going to let pregnant people get vaccinated,” Meagan recalls. “I thought: Am I going to have to give birth in a mask? Are they going to let my husband come in?”

In some ways, COVID and the day-to-day urgencies of caring for a toddler put this pregnancy in perspective. “There was plenty of real stuff to worry about” instead of obsessing about some rare genetic disorder noted on WebMD, Nate says.

This baby, too, was a week late. But before Meagan’s scheduled induction, the morning after her birthday, her water broke. Suddenly, contractions were five minutes apart. They rushed to Pennsylvania Hospital, where Ruth emerged less than four hours later.

“I had been a little bit worried that I wasn’t going to be able to love another kid as much as I loved Evie. But that wasn’t the case,” Meagan says. And Nate recalls a sense of denial that lasted until the moment Ruth was born. “Those moments between when the baby’s in your body and in the world, I think: Nah, this isn’t going to happen. And then, it does.”

Parenthood has changed the way Meagan teaches: Every student in her classroom, she now knows, is someone’s child, “someone who loves their kid as much as I love mine. It makes me more empathetic, and it stresses me out.”

Nate used to love crime movies but finds he can’t stomach them anymore. Instead, he finds delight in goofing around with his daughters. “Every day, these two girls are as little as they’re going to be. I try to take it as it comes, enjoy them in this moment as best I can.”