You’re not due for another two weeks, but the doctor tells me you may be coming sooner than we thought. This news left me breathless and reeling on the exam table, and not just because I’m now acutely aware of how dilated my cervix already is. Months of denial have come to a head — you are coming any day now.
I have to admit I’ve been taking this special time for granted lately. Somehow caught off-guard by how quickly the months have passed, I have spent the last few days in a rushed stupor — trying to tackle all the laundry, bleaching every non-porous surface in the house, making genuine attempts to keep abreast of all the food splatters and Cheerio dust that accumulate on the kitchen floor in case I go into labor and, God forbid, your visitors are subjected to the general squalor of our day-to-day. In truth, I feel no more prepared than before, though this is at least partly because your siblings create an equal and opposite force of destruction to match every effort I make at cleaning. I mostly feel depleted and anxious, and I’ve let those feelings drown out my gratitude and hope for what’s to come.
So here are my promises to you, our family, and myself at this bittersweet junction in our story. As the clock ticks away the moments until you arrive, I have committed to stop and savor every last drop of this pregnancy.
- I will leave the never-ending housework and freezer meals for another day, maybe even another person. Instead, I will sit among the crumbs on the floor and play with your siblings. We will fill these last few days with laughter and imagination and momentarily allow ourselves to forget about having to soon split my attention with a third child. We will wonder what your name is (your brother likes Stinkbug Fire Truck, so good luck getting through high school) and watch you dance in my belly as we race cars and build towers and rub noses.
- I will allow my hot tears to drop into their hair as I put them to bed at night, quietly mourning all that will change when you step into our lives. And then I will think about all the times you will make each other squeal in bursts of laughter and delight (likely at the expense of your personal safety or our living room décor). I will imagine the days to come when you will hold each other’s hands on your first day of school, cry when you leave each other for college, stand together on your wedding day. I will picture the mischievous looks on your faces when you first realize you can work together to outnumber me.
- I will focus less on the aches and pains, the fear of the impending labor and delivery, and the worry that that crippling sensation might actually be you trying to punch your way out of me. Instead, I will close my eyes and feel you — really FEEL you — living a whole little life inside of me. I will imagine what you look like, wonder what you are dreaming about in there and whether you know it’s my hand meeting yours on the other end of those endless tiny blows. No one else on this Earth has felt you the way I have, and this otherworldly connection only we have will come to an abrupt end before we know it. Though one day soon I’ll no longer be able to feel your kicks, I know the days will come when I will instead feel you wrap your arms around my neck and nuzzle your head into my shoulder, feel you slip your warm hand into mine to know you are safe, feel you twirl my hair in your tiny fingers as you drift off to sleep in my arms.
- Finally, I will embrace the last of these beautiful experiences unique to pregnancy , because there aren’t many times in a woman’s life when this is considered impressive and charming:
The seasons are changing in our hearts and home as we prepare your arrival, Baby. With the pressure of so much still to do before you get here, it’s been easy to forget how fleeting and extraordinary our pregnancy together has been. It’s been a privilege to carry you, and I can’t wait to look into your eyes and tell you how much I already love you.
Mid-afternoon exhaustion had gotten the best of me, and although the kids had just woken up from their naps, I found myself lying in a giant, pregnant heap on the playroom floor. They frolicked and played around me, and as she usually does when I’m lying down, Number Three (due in two months) started kicking. They were the kind of kicks wherein you can actually see the limb protruding from my belly and skimming the surface before retreating back to her fetal curl. So I called the kids over to see if anyone wanted to “see” their sister.
Noah ran over and placed his hand ever so gently on my belly. I watched him watch her with genuine wonder in his gaze, but neither shock nor fear ever crossed his face.
“I love you, new baby,” he whispered, and laid his head across my lap with his arm around my waist.
“I’m going to teach the baby a new word,” he added. “Tuuuuuuuuuurd.”