Friday, January 25, 2013

in the wee hours of the morning...

i woke up very early this morning to pains in my stomach.  i had been laying on my left side when suddenly my eyes were open, and i felt very uncomfortable.  "am i hungry?" i wondered.  "is this labor? do i need to use the bathroom?"  i stumbled around in the dark and found my cell phone.  2:19 a.m.  i padded quietly down the hall and downstairs to the bathroom.  minutes later, i returned to the warmth of my bed and laid on my back next to john, listening to the rhythmic hum of his breathing.  in the distance, i could hear a siren.  the pain in my stomach had somewhat subsided, and i could feel sleep closing in.  i closed my eyes and thought for a moment about things i still need to do before the baby comes.

nothing seemed that pressing, though.  nothing too urgent nagged at me, and i sank further into the bed, moving a little closer to the warmth of my sleeping husband.  suddenly a thought popped into my head and i blinked open my eyes.  how many nights i had laid in this bed and wished and hoped and prayed and pleaded to be pregnant.  how many nights i had resigned myself to the fact that our household was limited to me, the man sleeping beside me and the little towhead down the hall.  and how sad that had made me.  how it made me feel like a failure. 

now i was in such a different place.  am in such a different place.  i can feel the gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle kicking of a baby growing stronger every day.  i can feel his tiny little hands pressing back when i push on my stomach.  i can see the excitement on his brother's face when i explain that the baby will be here soon and he reiterates, "the baby will pop out soon?!  hip hooooooray!" 

sometimes i find myself thinking, though, about what i would have been like if this wasn't where i was.  if this wasn't the road i got to travel.  if i never got to see that second line on yet another pregnancy test.  would this life have been enough for me?  would i have been okay with the hand i was dealt?  would i have been a good wife to john?  a good enough mother to jack?  or would i have cried myself to sleep and felt empty on holidays?  would i have felt a pang of jealousy when friends and relatives announced pregnancy?  sometimes it's very important to me to be able to assure myself that it would have been okay.  that i would have still managed.  and not just managed - but lived life the way i wanted to, intended to, regardless of less than ideal circumstances.  like getting what i wanted somehow made me a brat and i have to prove to someone, anyone that i could have made it through - persevered - triumphed - forged ahead - even in the face of adversity.  but laying in my bed this morning, i thought, i don't know if i could have been that person. 

right before i learned i was pregnant, i felt like i had made progress in accepting that my own fertility was not in my hands.  that i couldn't control many things - including the size of my family or if/when we would welcome another baby into our lives.  but did i make any progress at all? does it matter?  can i move on?  will i ever hear the questions "when are you going to try again?" "how many kids are you going to have?" "when is x getting another sibling?" without feeling a pang of anxiety?  will i ever be able to let go of residual anger at the way people in my life responded to what i was going through? 

in the quiet darkness of my bedroom this morning, these questions seemed less urgent than they otherwise do.  i pondered them, but didn't feel any overwhelming pressure to resolve them one way or another.  around 3:30, i determined that the pains in my stomach were actually hunger pains, and i made my way to the kitchen for half a bowl of cheerios.  i laid back in my bed and eventually drifted back to sleep.

... only to be woken by jack yelling at 5:20 a.m.  it sounded like he was having a nightmare, and i bounded out of bed and down the hallway to his room to soothe his little writhing body.  it took a few minutes to calm him down, and after a diaper change, he opted for the comfort of mom and dad's bed (a total rarity for our generally very-independent-very-good sleeper) and so we (me, puppy, blanky - the other puppy, teddy and his white blanket) made our way back down the hall.  jack settled in between john and i and laid there in the stillness.  he did what he has done since he was born, matched his breathing to mine, and we laid next to each other, our chests rising and falling together.  his hand reached over to touch my face, his little fingers rested on my cheek, and i saw his eyes blinking in the darkness.  he snuggled in closer.

after thirty minutes or so, it became apparent that he wasn't going back to sleep.  he wanted water, he wanted a story, he wanted to talk about his puppy.  while john is much more patient than i when it comes to certain things (toddler eating habits, messes around the house, disorganization in general), i have resigned myself to the fact that i  will not be getting a solid eight hours of sleep for a very long time (eighteen years?!) and i am much more patient with waking earlier/in the middle of the night.  so, jack and i returned to his room and laid next to each other in his bed.  he requested that i read "the giving tree" and "lost and found."  he wanted a granola bar and warm milk.  we discussed the need to be quiet when other people were sleeping, and i reminded him that very soon his baby brother would be here and it would be extremely important to whisper if he woke up when it was still dark outside.  "okay," he answered very seriously.  "i promise.  i be VERY quiet!" he exclaimed in a not-so-quiet voice.  he struggled to keep his eyes open in the dimly lit room, and i rubbed his back and sang him a few lines of edelweiss, his favorite "lullabye" since he was a baby.  after a time, i tiptoed out of his room and back into mine.  it was silent for a few minutes before he started calling for me again.  john rolled over, visibly irritated. "he needs to go back to bed!" he grumbled.  "why is he awake right now?!"  i was tired, too, but i just felt like maybe jack needed his mom this morning. 

back to his room, i scooped him up and carried him to the rocking chair in our bedroom.  he snuggled up on my chest and closed his eyes.  we rocked and rocked, and i thought and thought.  i wondered if this would be the last time i would rock my son before his brother was born.  i wondered if jack felt like the time was drawing near, like he could sense that things were about to change and he needed to reassure himself of his place in my heart.  do kids think about things like that?  are they aware of the magnitude of additional siblings in the days leading up to birth?  i hugged his little body closer and silently thanked him for all the precious moments he's given me, the laughs and the tears and the opportunities to grow.  the forgiveness and patience he's shown me when i had no idea what i was doing as a new mom or even a mom two plus years into this journey.  i said a silent prayer of thanks for all the "mama's" he's uttered, the hugs he's shared and the kisses on my cheek.  i don't know why i felt this overwhelming need to express to him in some way how grateful i am to be his mom, but i guess it's just one more thing i'm glad to have completed before his new brother arrives. 

i won't pretend that parenting is all a bunch of roses and rainbows and unicorns and happiness all the time.  because it isn't.  it's a lot of sleepless nights and worry and hard work, but mixed in with all of that are so many joyous, amazing, precious moments that make it worth any less-than-ideal times.  despite the 5:20 a.m. wake-up call this morning, i am so glad that i got a little extra time to snuggle with my firstborn.  i know these special moments might not come as easily in the coming weeks, and maybe he knows that, too... either way - i'm treasuring all these moments - whether they come at 5 a.m. or p.m.! 

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