<Insert sound of needle screeeeeching on record>
So, I may be a little less further along than I thought. Or, I may be exactly where I thought.
I am measuring about a week or so smaller. But I recall that this happens at some point in each of my pregnancies. Growth spurt catch me up? Shape of my uterus? Who knows. I’m not concerned but just keep giggling at the concept that my dear babies love to be born in the summer. Next month, I’ll be anxious to see where I am measuring. So, an early June baby? A mid June baby? Who knows. I’m betting on a Gemini. Because OMG THREE CANCERS!
And I am nesting; which I do pretty much from the onset of pregnancy. You know what sucks? Having the nesting urge but none of the nesting energy. Sitting on my ass, staring at the dirty and blank walls, watching the laundry piles grow, thinking through a mass organizing project, pondering furniture arrangement, relaxing in the tub and imagining the placement of candles while in labor, browsing Craigslist without the money to back up my desires.
I’ve had more energy recently thanks to iron-boosts and juicing habits. And so the lovely beast of nesting has been unleashed, albeit with an added 14 pounds or so on my frame.
Today, I am sorting, washing, and folding teeny tiny soft baby clothes. ALREADY. Most which have been stretched and stained through two babies. A handful of whites, a couple of green and blues, and a shitload of PINK! I will select, gently fold, and arrange a few into a sealed paper bag, along with a some newborn hats, in preparation for the birth. I will not see them for another four month. Maybe I will even tuck a few welcome messages into the bag and read them aloud to baby on his/her BIRTH day. I will imagine the mystery baby that will fit into them. The remaining ones will go into little bins, alongside diapers and rarely-worn socks and never will be as organized as on this very day.
I already see my hair, wild from birth and hanging in my eyes, and feel my arms just a tiny bit heavier from a new person in them (a welcome weight). I already taste the platter of food that will be delivered to me by a friend or my husband at my bedside, as I lounge skin-to-skin with my new baby and exchange colostrum for everlasting love. I already smell birth in my room – the blood, the vernix, the placenta, the hormones, the amniotic fluid – and it smells familiar and comforting and powerful. I see my girls – oh my big, lovely girls – crawling beside me to count toes and jiggle my jelly belly, and have a dozen or more kisses planted on their heads. And I can feel my eyes, hours later, starting to droop from the work of birth. I feel my head against a pillow and my baby nestled in my armpit and I am drifting to sleep.
But, in the here and now, I bring a teeny white t-shirt to my nose, close my eyes, and inhale.
I remember how cute she looked in this one
I remember how she wore this while I was bedridden with pneumonia on a cross-country RV trip
I remember purchasing and folding this “gender neutral” one imprinted with monkey’s a few weeks before she was born; wondering and hopeful of everything.
I remember how the bold print and colors brought out her eyes
I remember how itchy and uncomfortable this one always looked (TOSS!)
Oh, and this one appears to have gone through a marathon of breastmilk spit up and blow outs (TOSS!)
I always forget how compact and snuggly they are at birth; how it takes times for them to unfold their limbs – used to the confines of a womb – into the earthly realm of gravity and space. I shuffle through the plastic container of clothing and always first pick out a cute onesie, hold it up, and then to realize it’s size 6 months. I pull out a newborn size, or even a 3 months size, and my mind shifts back to the reality of a newborn.
GULP. They really are that small.
EXHALE. Thank goodness they are that small!
How can it be that I have been chosen once again to cross the threshold of motherhood?
Who is this person, this living spirit that rolls in my belly and doesn’t let me get away with eating lots of chocolate like my girls did?
What is it about the swollen heat of desert summers that give way to the fertile grounds of birth for me?
Dear sweet baby,
That’s how I describe you. One of the only words I have to describe you. Sweet. Your movements are sweet, the way you hide and escape from the sound waves of the Doppler is sweet, the way you won’t let me ingest too much sugar is…well, not too sweet, really. But endearing.
In fact, dear baby, your payback for my eating of a stack of Ghiridelli dark chocolate squares was a day of diarrhea and some mild contractions. Neither of which are acceptable in my book. We made it through, but there were tears (for the discomfort as well as the reality that I could not eat that much chocolate again. Oh the terror, the torture!). I laid in bed most of the day, waiting for contractions to die down because I certainly wasn’t going to deal with any pre-term labor. No bueno, my sweet. And your sisters proceeded to take advantage of my bed rest and scatter Cheerios about the floors while they stomped them like grapes. Cheerio wine in the making. Mmmmm. Then they colored on walls, opened and gulped down about 6 packets of single-serving M&Ms, shared a donut or two, painted with my makeup on our cabinets, scattered legos about the house, and played kitchen with lots of water and real food. I think I fed them crackers and cheese and nutella sandwiches that day. Something swift and non-whine inducing. And you, baby love, nestled back into my womb and fell fast asleep, utterly content in the madness.
You, baby, remain this mystery to me. Perhaps even more than your sisters ever were. I wonder why you’d choose to come to us in a time where uncertainly looms, and chaos abounds, and where we is broke (but not broken). But then I think, well, wise baby, probably because you know that you’ll get to soak up the one thing that we have in abundance: LOVE. It is the boundless currency, limitless and full of possibility. Love doesn’t care where you live, or if you are unemployed, or if your checking account is in the negative, or if your home has an impressive lacquer of OJ and dog hair on the floor. Love chews up and spits out chaos for breakfast. Love smiles as it wipes the poopy butt of a four year old. Love serves your family french toast and waffles and eggs and lots of sugary syrup when the day has been tough. Love touches your husband’s feet with it’s own while snuggled beneath covers and feels at home there.
And I remember that each of my babies has come to me in a time of swirling, whirling ambiguity. Once while we were living in a commune, in the desert. Me working like mad in a cubicle, Daddy studying the way the sun shifts during the season and how to build in accordance and respect with the land. Your other sister came while I was in the midst of being laid off from my cubicle job and we didn’t know how we’d make it, but we did, and we’ve thrived . And because of that I’ve been with them every step of the way without having to leave them in the hands of another to don heels, and pump milk from my breasts in a dark room, and write memos about why it’s really a GREAT thing that we are LAYING OFF PEOPLE and PLEASE HAVE ANOTHER COOKIE AND AN EMBROIDERED FLEECE JACKET TO CELEBRATE OUR AWESOME RE-ENGINEERING EFFORTS!
We muddled through it. Through two more lay offs with your Daddy and the purchasing of a home and the standing in line/sitting for 6 straight hours to get food stamp benefits (oh, we are so blessed). Love prevailed, always, in those moments, even when there was anger and hot tears and slammed doors and the silent treatment.
And so baby, I make one guarantee: above all, you will get love. Fierce love, like the pounding of a drum with jubilant and stinging palm. You are wanted intensely and welcomed wholly into our family. You are that puzzle piece, wedged for months under the dustballs beneath the couch, finally found and fitting jusssssst right. Yeah, we may be a little dusty around here. But that wipes off easily. Our voices can sometimes raise but we also know how to lower our knees and speak eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart.
This year, I’ve said since last year, is going to be a good one. I feel it here, in my steady bones. I sense it here, in the strong valves of my heart. I see it there, in their songs and spastic dancing and questions and artwork and longer-each-day legs. I hear it in the sounds of women as their birth and in the opening of their eyes to transformation.
Baby, baby, baby, I love how you’ve stretched me, adding pounds to my body and reminding me to pause for a moment to be grateful that I have been selected to nourish and grow and bear you. You do the same for me. I look forward to knowing you more as I memorize your rhythms and lay hands upon you through my belly. I await your very own, unique and magical messages, gifted to me in dreams and breaths.
PS. I think I’m 22 weeks. 🙂