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Sylvia turned 3 last week. Dana's written about this before--the amazing way time collapses and shifts, how hard it is to believe that this little girl in a ponytail and party dress was so recently mewling in my arms, easily contained in a receiving blanket. (That's us in the photo, three years ago.)
So I won't belabor the point. But being pregnant also brings me back to how I felt three years ago. My water broke around midnight on the day before my due date, while Aron and I were restlessly watching a DVD of The Muppet Show. My contractions were 5 minutes apart within an hour. (And then slowed down once we got to the hospital, but that's another story.) I stood in the hallway outside our bedroom, watching as Aron raced around, just like in a sitcom, gathering our various bags and paraphernalia (CDs, my favorite bedside lamp which had to be pre-approved by the hospital electrician for plugging into their outlets, etc. etc.).
I was nervous, but not as nervous as I thought I'd be. Instead, when I stood in the shadows, watching him, I had the profound and sudden realization that we were about to say goodbye to a monumental phase of our lives: our time together before children. I've been with Aron since I was 19; I gave birth to Sylvia when I was 30. So we're not talking relationship small potatoes.
In that moment, I didn't have a change of heart. But it brought tears to my eyes, being able to mark, with such clear and poignant definition, a Before and an After.
I know that this new baby will bring significant changes to our lives. But I'm definitely aware of how different this impending birth feels from hers. As friends had told me, already being a resident of Planet Kid means that this new one will fit... I was just going to write "seamlessly," but I know that's dreaming. So let's just say the new baby will fit. The seams may stretch and show a bit. But we won't be fashioning a new reality out of whole cloth, the way we did last time. We already have the crib, the changing table, the dish washer covered in sparkly butterfly stickers.
This sense of confidence has a shadow, of course--what if our lives aren't changed enough by this new kid? What if we forget to be moved and shaked by the entrance of this individual into our family? I'm a second child, myself, so I'm feeling a bit defensive on his or her behalf already. (I always got plenty of attention, but let's just say that the photo album devoted to my childhood years is the slimmest.)
Strange but true: Feeling ready
But back to the confidence. The other day, I was hit by an unpleasant stomach thing--one that at first was hard to isolate from the very rapid thrashing and kicking the baby was doing. I was lying on my side in bed, in pain, and running through possible scenarios: The baby's kicking meant everything was fine. The baby's kicking meant that he or she was fighting for life. I was having a simple case of indigestion. Or maybe it was something frightening that would lead to premature labor. At 28 weeks, what were the baby's chances of survival? Of a healthy and thriving life? I wished I were a few more weeks along.
The stomach thing passed an hour later, almost as suddenly as it had descended. The baby kept kicking at about the same rate, then calmed down for a few hours, then started up again--all normal. It was a big relief. The strangest thing to come out of it was the knowledge that even though the baby won't be ready for another couple of months, I'm starting to feel ready for labor now.
I didn't have the easiest labor with Sylvia, so the idea that I'd be up for another bout in the ring is kind of surprising. But I am. So much more than I was three years ago--looking on as my life was about to be changed forever--my attitude about labor today is more Bring it on than Maybe if I just think of my happy place, this whole thing can happen without any discomfort, maybe?
Is it because we're already parents? Or because my thinking about labor changed so much having gone through it? All I know is that I am finding myself more on the welcoming/ excited/ impatient end of the spectrum, and rarely on the wondering/ fearful/ putting-it-off end. It's a good place to be.
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.