The wee hours of the morning. That delicate span of time when either you’ve stayed up very late, or gotten up very early. My husband is the latter. He leans to kiss me in bed, my hour tousled unattractively against my pillow. I tell him I love him, words spoken through my lisp-inducing mouthpiece used to prevent nighttime teeth grinding. Baggy black sweats with holes in ever-increasing places sit across my hips, purchased when I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first baby. They’ve served me well. I wear a soft-because-it’s-old faded gray t-shirt, screen print of a sporting goods store cracked and disappearing on the front. It’s his. Just like this squirming life inside me.
I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our fifth child. Two are in heaven, and two sleep down the hall, their twin beds side by side, faces turned to the left, so you can see the similarity in their profiles. Two years apart, but forever connected. Sisters. About to welcome a brother.
What will he look like? How will his cry sound? Will his eyes sparkle blue like one sibling’s, shine green like the other’s, or be entirely different? I long to know. And yet, this time, this delicate span of time between the not knowing and the knowing, is painfully precious.
Last week, we thought he might come early. Hours of off-and-on contractions sent me to the hospital just to be safe, only to find out I was actually progressing. His window to the world was 2 cm when I arrived, and 3 only an hour later. But then, thanks to a bag of saline and the fact that it’s not yet his time, labor stopped. And we went home. And prepared. Tasks that we thought were weeks away were more immediate. My brother and a cousin coordinated to deliver a car seat from a friend who lives three hours away. (Bless them.) A dear friend and momma-grace mentor delivered prepared meals and a plate of no-bake cookies I’ll never forget. (Bless her.) The house was cleaned in places it hadn’t been in years, and a group of gals came to help me prepare weeks worth of meals for the freezer. (Bless them.)
And we wait. Four weeks to go, but my OB doesn’t think I’ll last that long. But who knows? Who knows? He knows. And HE knows. My relationship with God has waned during the final leg of this pregnancy, and I think I finally know why. This gift I’ve been given, this miracle of all miracles, seems embarrassingly undeserved. How…how can I accept this? It’s too much. It’s too sweet. It’s too impossible. And yet.
And yet, here I am, round and glorious and told by some I’m glowing (even thought I know it’s overactive oil glands). Me? I have been chosen to mother these three children? Me? The one who loses car keys, phones and temper? Me? The one who fails regularly and completely? Me?
Soon, I will deliver this precious child into the world. Into the waiting arms of aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, cousins, sisters, a strong father and an imperfect mother. I love him. Love him. I hope he knows already, and I hope I don’t royally screw this whole thing up. Please let me bask in the gummy smiles and delicious laughter a baby brings to a home. Let me soak in the smell of his head, his skin, his newness. Let my heart open big enough to snuggle in all three children. Let my love spread wide, and not thin. Let me remember to release the guilt and stigma of a messy home and the natural chaos of a young family.
Time is drawing near.