Friday, December 23, 2016

Waiting for Baby (For Jessica)

It’s been a LOOOOONG pregnancy, hasn’t it? Overdue, being induced tomorrow with no guarantee that you still won’t be waiting another day … will he be born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? (Of course, he could still show up during the next few hours.)

I know your mother is waiting rather impatiently, too. Hell, even I am – I got your mother a gift that she can’t open until the baby is born! Hurry it up, already!

I don’t envy you right now. I remember the last few weeks of my pregnancies; they were hellish – and both of my children were born early! I can’t imagine how much more fun it is to wait longer than expected, especially knowing what a generally patient person I am on a good day!

I got to thinking; before my first was born, a woman gave me this piece of advice: “Get your sleep now, because it will be gone forever after the baby is born.” I remember thinking at the time that I already knew that (actually, my first reaction was probably, “DUH!”), and then my daughter was born – then I REALLY knew what she meant.

I know you are uncomfortable. I know that the discomfort interferes with your sleep – but it is really nothing compared to the lack of sleep you will be getting later.

And then even later.

You may not see it now, but even this – this combination of impatience, pain, discomfort, crankiness, strange hungers, and sleeplessness has a bright side, one that you will look back on with a strange, fond ruefulness when you realize that this is the very last time you will be able to feel all of this shit and be able to cater to it. The next time you are tired, you will still have to take care of someone else; the next time you have a cold or sickness that you would have previously just ignored and barreled through, you will have to responsibly take care of to prevent passing contagions; and you will endure the next headache upright and with your eyes open, because someone else will have to be fed.

How about all of those annoying people that want to rub the pregnant lady’s belly and make a wish? You’re going to miss them when you realize that after the baby is born no one is going to even notice you are there when the baby is around. You won’t be able to be seen alone without someone asking, “Where’s the baby?”

Later, in the mornings when you get up to get ready for work, you will miss the days when it’s only you that you have to worry about getting ready. You’ll miss the days when you could accept an invitation without having to get a babysitter.

And there is an upside to all of this, too: the first time you see your child’s face light up with recognition of your face or voice, his self-pride when he accomplishes something new (like finding his toes or taking his first steps), and the special feeling you will get when he grabs your hand or wraps his arms around you. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

This is also just the beginning of your having to wait for him; you’ll be waiting for him to fall asleep so that you can, too … waiting for him to zip up his jacket so you can leave the house … waiting for him to finish his homework or come home on time for curfew … waiting for doctor test results when he is sick or injured …

There is an upside and a downside to everything, something wonderful about every moment. Right now, don’t wait for what’s next; notice every aspect about now that is good and wonderful. Starting that habit now will prevent you from overlooking little moments you may one day look back on with regret at not paying better attention. For parents, the most common lament is about what they missed when their children were little. Days, months, years go by fast; I’m sure your own mother is feeling that way right about now.

Don’t wait. Enjoy that these are the last few days you will have without needing to lug around a baby carrier … that you can feed your child at the same time you feed yourself – and the food will be hot when you eat it … that the attention is all on you. And then, when he is here, enjoy every sleepless night, cold meal, late start, hair-pulling debates … happy giggles, warm hugs, sleepy smiles, and wondrous eyes. Every moment of it, before and after, is  wonderful and worth it.