During my first few years of marriage, when baby fever drifted in and out of my life like a recurring cold, I would absentmindedly caress my belly and imagine the perfect round ball that would appear one day. I imagined the glow. You know, the one everyone always talks about. I hoped it would radiate from me and I would be as beautiful as all the women photographed basking in the sunshine, smiling down at their little bump.
I saw quiet moments of feeling the silent but jolting kicks of the sweet someone growing from within. Walking into a dreamy nursery, usually yellow, and folding laundry into beautiful white furniture. Lullabies would be playing in the background, and I would slowly grow my collection of baby items into the Pinterest worthy room that would serve as the backdrop of my infant’s first few years. The front bedroom in our home. It was white and basically a blank canvas waiting to be transformed.
I would rock in a chair in the corner, reading baby books to the bulge and getting kicks in response. It would be a peaceful time of reflection, hopes, dreams. The ticks on the clock would never be fast enough for me, I would be counting them until it came time to meet our little one, but meanwhile I would slowly morph into the mom I was going to be. Those precious 9 months molding my mind and heart along with my malleable body.
The sweet whispers of my husband rang in my ears as he greeted the little someone. He would love talking about everything baby. We would dream about our baby together over a big heaping plate of ice cream, pickles, and flaming hot Cheetos that he would (of course) hand deliver to me in bed.
The tears stung the back of my eyes, seeing us in the stark room hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. My pride swelled when I would get mother’s intuition about the sex of the baby. I would just know. Mother’s always “just know”, right? No insecurities to be had here.
My dream. It was sweet. It was idyllic.
It was romanticized to the point that no feasible future could ever sustain it.
The days I spent pre-pregnancy were among my final year of college. I was hearing a lot of little birdies inquiring when my husband and I would be trying to have a baby. While I played it cool, telling them in exasperated tones, after I graduate, I was secretly pinning every adorable, chubby baby on the internet. I was staying up after finishing papers on rhetoric and Cormac McCarthy to stare at darling nurseries and expecting moms with perfect little bellies bathed in sunlight.
I wanted a baby very badly. But as you have come to learn, I have a control-freak-streak, and I wanted to have a baby when I had planned to have a baby.
My patient husband of course was supportive and probably a little grateful to be able to mull over the thought of his wife of only two years giving him a little bundle that he would have to provide for for the next eighteen.
Well, my friends, graduation came and went, and surprisingly my pregnancy came quite literally at the exact time that I had wanted it to. About two days after I walked across a stage with my degree, I found out I was pregnant with our little Jaynie. (Perhaps this is where my unrealistic expectations stem from. I was proved right once, why not forever?)
I started my pregnancy with no complaints. Then, about six weeks in the morning sickness arrived. Regretfully, Saltines and puke baggies were not included.
Oh, the joys.
During this stage, there were a lot of evenings spent in the bathroom, a lot of dinners that got an encore appearance, and a cab driver that almost got a surprise in his backseat. But around the middle of the 5th month, the need to stay near a bathroom at all times faded and my appetite came back…with a vengeance.
The moments that I had imagined did happen. I did get a little teary at the first ultrasound, although the implement used was a little more personal than the one I anticipated and hindered the “special moment” a bit, but we got to hear our little one’s heartbeat, and that’s all that mattered.
I also got a feeling about the sex of our baby, inspired by dreams of a little boy, only to learn that we were in fact having a little girl. So much for motherly intuition.
My husband was sweet to me during my entire pregnancy. He always made me feel beautiful and loved, but he didn’t spend hours gazing at my belly and talking to it. To him, my growing belly was indicative of our baby to be, but not exactly a baby just yet. And quite frankly, all the what-ifs and “dreams and hopes” I’ve been going on about really stressed him out. He wanted to meet our daughter when she got here. Unlike me, he is not into hypotheticals.
I could go on about the exhaustion brought on by pregnancy, the unwarranted tears, water retention, stretch marks, etc, but strangely enough, these were not the things that really challenged me in that season of life. They definitely heightened my reaction to the other challenges in my life, but they did not serve as the slap in the face to wake me from my reverie of a tranquil pregnancy.
In fact, now that I stop and think about it, “the glow”, the athletic gear my stomach resembled, and the sun-kissed maternity shoot are all the last things called to my mind when I think about my pregnancy. Almost all of my future visualizations were spent on the physical when I thought about my pregnancy, but in reality those turned out to be the least significant. It was the changes that occurred on the inside that really jog my memory, and boy, were they big bigger than a basketball.
I can’t remember exactly when my husband told me that we were going to sell the house and build a new home on property out west of town. I think it was a few months into my pregnancy, but I couldn’t be sure. Regardless, I soon discovered my sweet, yellow nursery in the front bedroom was never going to be.
With a little piece of the dream burning out, I slowly began to box up our first home in anticipation of a buyer. The house sold, and we moved into a trailer on my in-laws property around Thanksgiving. I was 7 months pregnant, and our home was not exactly inhabitable yet. Bombarding my in-laws with all of our boxes, furniture, and trailer was quite the kickoff to my “peaceful” transition.
They had offered us a spare bedroom in the house, but being the private person that I am, in the vulnerable state I was in, I insisted the trailer would be fine. Well, it was a whopping two months in a trailer in the middle of winter. Imagine a massively pregnant woman shaking a small travel trailer to climb into a bed that she will just have to crawl out of at least 5 times in the middle of the night to pee. Also imagine, the storms that come through at the end of November, beginning of December. That winter, the weather seemed to have magical powers that transformed that little travel trailer into what could only be an even smaller dingy in the midst of a very hostile sea. Needless to say, by the first hour of the first big storm, I was very seasick and extremely exhausted. So, I marched (okay, waddled) my swollen, miserable self into the spare bedroom and stayed in a very comfortable room for the remainder of those two months.
As you may have guessed by now, at no point during my pregnancy did I feel “peaceful”. At no point, did I feel like I had morphed into anything but a chubbier, more emotionally unstable version of myself. I cried, A LOT. I woefully imagined bringing my baby home to a trailer, A LOT. I bathed myself in self-doubt, A LOT.
Never, in all of the different pre-imagined versions of my pregnancy, did I envision moving, designing a home, living in a trailer, or racing the clock in order to actually have a home to bring my baby home to.
But despite all of these things. Despite all of the worry, the stress, the emotional turmoil of trying to control the outcome of my life again. I ultimately brought my baby home to a brand new home. A nursery designed specifically for her. A crowd of people who loved her and us through it all, and helped us move in, and get situated the week before she born.
I had it in my head that transition was a time of reflection. A time of peace before a big change, but as it turns out, the transition was almost as big as the change itself. And in a lot of ways, it may have prepared me more for the chaos that personifies motherhood than any serene, meditative state would have.
Through it all, my husband heard a lot of complaints, witnessed a lot of meltdowns, and was somewhat coerced into a promise to never do that to me again, but we made it. We crashed through that transitional stage, slamming and banging into every metaphorical boundary and wall we had between us, and of course remained standing long after they fell. Without all the walls (literally, because, after all, we were pretty much homeless) separating us, we became two slightly less separable people. We became united. Which as it turns out, was really the only transition we needed to undergo in order to be ready for the change ahead. Due to this insane, unforeseen detour, we actually did transform. We transformed into a closer team, better friends, and eventually…parents.