The scheduler at my OB/GYN’s office was explicit in her instructions: no food or drink after midnight.
Oh, but prior to midnight…
And so, at 11:17 p.m. on the night before you were born, dear baby K, I enjoyed our last bowl of mint cookies and cream ice cream with chocolate syrup. It seemed fitting because throughout the duration of this pregnancy, you seemed to be only satisfied by carbs. Which I am absolutely fine with, by the way.
As our third child, you will no doubt notice that I slacked off on the weekly and bi-weekly updates on your growth and development and the minutia of your existence. Your sisters enjoyed a high level of micromanagement for their 32 weeks of gestation and then much of their first year post-partum.
It’s a good thing that blog posts and belly pictures are not the primary indicators of being loved and wanted and adored.
When I was barely five weeks pregnant with you, I started bleeding. I was horrified and scared and deeply, deeply saddened. I thought I lost you before I knew you.
Weeks of ultrasounds followed, showing first a small 1 cm bleed that grew, without good reason, to 3 cm. Weekly ultrasounds revealed a dark storm brewing next to the hopeful flashing of your sweet, flickering heartbeat.
I was full of so much hope and so much sadness, all at the same time. It was a strange time for your dad and me because while we felt so full of love and happiness with your sisters, there was such a deep longing in our hearts for you. The idea of our family without a you in it seemed so sad and empty. It was around that time of so much conflicting emotion, perhaps week seven or week eight, that I was worshipping in church.
I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
~Chris Tomlin, “Whom Shall I Fear”
The words of the song resonated in my heart and I felt that those words were, in that moment, a message to me about you. I had an overwhelming sense that God was protecting you. I also had an overwhelming sense that you were a girl, but you know, we’re still waiting to see if I was right about that one. (Just remember, if you are a boy, .500 is still a great batting average.)
The next ultrasound revealed that the bleed was reabsorbing into my system and that your happy little heartbeat seemed to be blissfully unaffected. The doctor overseeing the ultrasound was visibly relieved. “You know,” she said to me, a smile lighting her face, “I really thought you maybe had a 50/50 chance with this one. I think you’re going to be OK.”
I watched the days tick by through this pregnancy. You and I would have little one-sided chats where I would tell you that I loved you. And sometimes, if we were alone in the car, I would also give pointed advice about driving, using other drivers as an example.
I think that driving advice will come in handy.
Thanksgiving came and went. Christmas came and went. Then the New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.
Here we are in May. May is a lovely and enchanting time in Chicago. It’s the time of the year where, no matter how wretched the winter was (and this one was terrible), Chicagoans invariably forget about the preceding frosty weather and race outside in tee-shirts and shorts in 45 degree weather.
May is a great month for a birthday. Your dad was born in May and now, so will you.
You and I have already had a good run of it together. I poke you, you kick me back. We have a good relationship like that.
Your dad is giddy to meet you. He is like a kid on Christmas Eve – excited to hold you and love you. For someone who is generally so stoic and professional, your dad is already a softy when it comes to you and your sisters.
Speaking of which, your sisters are excited to see what all the fuss is about. I suspect that they will go through phases of coming to understand what it means to have a new little brother or sister in their midst. I would guess that there might be a few rough days and nights ahead, where one or both of your sisters may ask when it is we are going to send you back.
That’s just how siblings are. And over the years, they will come to scarcely remember a time without you. Your histories and lives and futures will be forever intertwined.
So here we are: the night before you will be born. Just you and me in a quiet house. I should be sleeping. Truthfully, I tried sleeping, but this is our last night hanging out like this – me eating ice cream and you kicking my bladder. Tomorrow (5/14) is a big day, little one.
Birth is an excellent, albeit quick and dirty, bootcamp for life: There’s a lot of discomfort, maybe some swearing and general disorientation, followed by joy and tears and excitement. Get ready; it’s a beautifully messy ride.
I love you already.