F irst comes the baby, and then the stroller, isn’t that so?

Avi was having a hard time understanding why we couldn’t make an exception to the rule. But I wanted none of it.

“You’re asking too much of me. I can’t do it. If you feel it’s the right thing, please, just purchase it on your own, and don’t involve me. It’s too… odd. I can’t bring myself to buy a… stroller.” I stopped mid-tantrum, glancing at the man I’d married, wishing he’d let go of the ludicrous notion he’d come home with.

Sholom, my husband’s chavrusa, had taken Avi to yet another rav for a brachah, and this time he’d been determined to get a promise, a vow, that by year’s end we’d be on the other side of the fence.

“We were waiting on line.” There was a fire in my husband’s voice. “And then our turn finally came… and Sholom was trying to get a promise out of the rav. He begged once, twice. The rav was shaking his head and I was starting to back away.

“Sholom pressed on, ‘Is the rav maskim that Avi should be a father in a year? Should he buy a stroller?’

“And the rav nodded his head and said, yes, that he was maskim, and he took my hands and gave me a warm brachah. You see, we just have to buy the stroller, and maybe? Don’t you think it’s worth trying?”

A promise? Is this what these menfolk consider a promise? Was it a reason to go through the humiliation and torture of purchasing equipment for a child not yet existent?

But I couldn’t bring myself to dim the spark in Avi’s eyes, which were alight with hope and anticipation.

On Sunday, an eager Avi arrived home early from yeshivah, revved up for the shopping spree.

“Where do you think we’re going? I am not walking into a local store, no way.”

“We’ll go during suppertime, when nobody’s there.”

“No. No. No! And I don’t let you go alone either. We are not being seen in a baby furniture store.”

“Okay, so let’s go to Buy Buy Baby, or to a Babies ’R’ Us. It’s a half-hour drive. No one will be there.”

“Don’t even try. I am not stepping foot into a store that carries baby gear. The only thing I agree to is purchasing it online.”

My husband liked the plan.

We had no Internet access at home, and this was not something I was willing to order at work, so the next evening we set out for the local library, furtively looking around for any familiar faces as we logged on to a computer in the far corner.

“So…?” Avi looked at me and I looked at him.

It was comical. It was uncomfortable. It was perfectly ridiculous.

“Okay, here’s the mouse.” He pushed it my way. “I honor you with choosing a carriage.”

I’d long dreamed about the moment I’d get to decide how I would wheel my prince or princess about. I’d always thought of it as a magical moment, full of dreams and anticipation, prams and strollers and bassinets all lined up at the service of my scrutinizing gaze.

It was not meant to be a comedy, with wannabe parents sitting in the library browsing what was off-limits. It was cheating. And the forbidden waters did not taste sweet at all. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 543)