More than three quarters down, less than one to go, and everyone tells me it’s going to be like nothing else, meeting you, holding you, touching your nose and your ears, counting to ten on your fingers and toes. There’s a room upstairs we’re getting ready for you, painted pink, with baskets and bins piled in the corner, filled with beautiful dresses, blankets, books and sweaters for you. I love pouring through these things and I know it should be because I will imagine you in them, but really it is because these things are, for me, a reminder: that your life is already loved by so many, and I am not walking into this alone.
Pregnancy is filled with more aches and pains than I expected—physical aches, yes, and indigestion, and and nausea and the ache of the muscle I pulled on the dance floor at my brother’s wedding. But it is also filled with the aches of putting away pre-maternity swimsuits and dresses and wondering if they will ever fit again, the ache of knowing nights out with friends will be limited, the pain of wondering how I am going to manage both a career and a baby, the ache of feeling myself disappear as people notice first my bump, second me, and I wonder if I am looking into the rest of my life here.
And every time, when I begin to wonder if this is all going to be too much, if I will really be able to do motherhood—the late nights, the early mornings, the diaper changes, the tears, the carrying, the schedules—at that exact moment when it feels so overwhelming, I feel you kick. I can look down at my bulging belly and know—that’s a foot; there’s an elbow, she’s hiccuping, she’s rolling. And the reminder of your presence, that there is another person inside of me with her own heartbeat and brain, is enough for me to remember that I am very much in love with you already. This is our constant pursuit of each other—yours of me and mine of you as you kick and I make room in this house and this body for yours.
The books say you’re dreaming now, and I wonder what your dreams could possibly be about. Are we given dreams, even before we take our first breath? Is that why some of them feel so familiar, so rooted inside of us, that when we rediscover them years down the road, we feel like we are returning to an old friend, a part of ourselves that was tucked away behind the soil for years? I pray for your dreams and I pray for your mind, that it will be sharp and full, able to distinguish between right and wrong, unable to take anything at face value. I pray the lines between fact and fiction will be blurred for you, so that the idea of other worlds, other languages, other ways of life will not seem absurd. And I pray, more than anything, that you will know in your dreams, in the soul of yourself, that you are loved—that you will return to this knowledge again and again, and that it will carry you like a gold thread through the thunderstorms of life I will try to stand in front of.
Only a few more weeks to go, and I cannot imagine what it will be like, meeting this intimate stranger who has occupied my space for so many months. I try to wonder what it will feel like to hold you in my arms and not my belly, to see you face to face after learning your patterns and rhythms these past weeks. I wonder if I will recognize you—if you, too, are a dream of mine from before I was born, and if, looking at you for the first time, all my fears of estrangement or detachment will wash away—because maybe you and I have always known each other. Maybe your arrival and my welcome have been orchestrated from the beginning of time.*
**All photos by Matt Genders Photography
*Post inspired by Wendell Berry’s Her First Calf.