In the months leading up to our wedding, I basically had our entire wedding in a huge stack of boxes by the front door.
Boxes of mason jars and candles. A tub of white tablecloths, and a box of burlap covers to go over. A box of bouquets and boutonnieres, table runners. Dishes, silverware, napkins. Bundles of lace for accents, a chalkboard for directions leaning up against it all. Prepared. Ordered. Ready.
It drove me crazy.
I was super organized, with two versions of a To-Do list – one with overall tasks to be done, the second organized by months leading up to the big day, with specific, accomplishable goals outlined for each month. That second one was purely to help me manage my anxiety – I knew I couldn’t accomplish every single task, craft, and preparation all in one day, or one week, or even one month. I knew there were time limits on things like the marriage license (only valid for thirty days) or things that simply couldn’t be performed until the day of the wedding – decorating the ceremony site and the reception hall.
I wasn’t good with the waiting. Those boxes, standing there, ready, kept reminding me how much work there was to be done, and I couldn’t do it yet. They kept reminding me that I had this big, huge, life-changing day of joy and celebration coming up – but it wasn’t here yet. I couldn’t celebrate yet, I couldn’t enjoy the flood of emotions and relief and love. I had to wait.
I am an anxious person, we know this, we’ve talked about it here on more than one occasion. I wish fervently I weren’t, but it’s the reality of who I am. Trying to deny that, or ignore it, only causes me more harm and grief.
I’m an anxious person, and part of the reason waiting is so difficult for me is because my mind usually doesn’t know how to interpret excitement properly. I mentioned this in Emi’s birth story – what I’m actually feeling is anticipation – that fluttery, almost joyous feeling of expectation that comes before a big event. It’s not (supposed to be) fear, or apprehension, it’s just excitement! And yet – too often, my brain recognizes it as the emotion that’s quite common to it – anxiety.
Realizing this fact went a long way in helping me cope with it. Nowadays, I can feel myself amping up over a prospective occasion, my heart starting to pound, my brain racing – and I remind myself – you are looking forward to this. You know this will be fun and enjoyable. I remind myself of the disconnect, and I try to come back down to earth and enjoy the proper emotions, excitement and anticipation. If I let my brain run away with itself, I’m overcome with worries like what if we get lost, what if traffic is bad, what if it rains, what if we’re late – things that will or won’t happen, regardless of my worrying; things that are uncontrollable, or will be managed even if they do happen.
As I write this, I’m 24 weeks pregnant, only a few weeks away from beginning my third and final trimester.
It’ll fly by, people tell me. You’ll be surprised how fast it’ll go.
Turns out – for me, not so much.
I’m not complaining – I’ve enjoying having so much time to get ready, to mentally adjust. And I’m sure when we actually get to the last few weeks in July, leading up to D-Day August 2, I’ll stop and wonder, where did the time go? How is it August already?
But right now – it feels like I’ve been pregnant, and I’ll be pregnant a long time. I’m not complaining in a physical sense. I know most women, once in their third trimester, are just ready to be done, ready to meet their baby, ready to have their bodies back to themselves. I’m sure I’ll feel that way too, here in a bit – but that’s not the reason I feel like it’s a really long time until I’ll give birth and get to meet our baby.
It’s that anticipation again.
People are quick to remind you of everything difficultabout birth and parenting. The pain of labor, the lack of sleep with a newborn. How you will never ever sleep again. The diapers and the exhaustion and the struggle and the worry. I believe them.
It’s all well-intentioned, of course. Usually any of that commentary is followed up by, it’s so worth it. I can’t imagine my life without him/her. I love him/her more than anything.
I believe that, too.
The anticipation of birth and then parenting is hard for me to wait out. I know what a big change is coming in our lives. I understand (in theory, of course) how much our world as we know it is about to turn upside down. How we will be tested and rewarded beyond comprehension.
And I don’t like the waiting. It’s the same as waiting for my wedding week and day to arrive.
There’s work that I need to do, will have to do – and only I can be the one to do it. And I can’t do it yet.
There’s a day of great rejoicing, of overwhelming emotion, of love and joy like I have never known before. And I can’t experience it yet.
There’s a big change, an uprooting. The death of the maiden and the birth of the mother. I am preparing for it, now; but no matter how long I meditate, no matter how many affirmations I practice, no matter how many prayers or wishes – it’s not time yet.
The other day, I said to Shaun – standing in the check-out line at Kroger, of all places, I don’t even know what got me thinking of it – I said, I’m just ready for her to be here. I’m just ready for it to be August. I’m ready to be on maternity leave, and you off for a couple weeks, and the three of us home with Kitty, just together and figuring out how to do this.
I want to see her face and know if she has my eyes or Shaun’s, his cheeks or mine. Whose lips. What delicate combination of genes and features will be wholly and uniquely hers. I want to hear her cry, and I want to be the one to soothe her. I want her to recognize our voices, and be comforted by them. I want her to fall asleep on my chest, I want to watch Shaun cradle his daughter with tender and halting hands. I want to listen to him sing to her. (It’s inevitable.) I want to gently dress her in these tiny rompers and dresses I’ve been carefully folding. I want to whisper her name in her ear, and know it is hers, and she is mine, Shaun’s, ours.
I suppose you could say I’m ready for the unknown to end. The assumption that all is well and will continue to be well only goes so far. I suppose you could say I’m ready to face this reality, instead of only preparing for it. I’m not impatient so much as ready to get in the ring, to throw my weight around and do the work that has been allotted to me. To take the test, and pass or fail.
I try not to. I try to slow down. I try to enjoy every moment of being pregnant, with child. I know this is a special, miraculous, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime period of my life; and that even if we have other children, no pregnancy will be quite like this first one. Nothing will ever compare to seeing her on that sonogram, or feeling her kicks, or realizing she had the hiccups for the first time. Nothing will ever compare to this first time I carried a human life within me.
I’m not good at it – this trying to be present in the present thing – but I’m working on it.