I’ve heard that some people need some sort of emotional milestone to occur before they go into labor—for instance, a mom or sister arriving or the beginning of maternity leave. Other people have to unpack their belongings into the small, familiar, beautiful house that smells like happiness and a musty Florida summer.
Last weekend, Aaron and I had a romantic getaway to our house in Tallahassee while my mom and sister watched Clara. We took our time on the four-hour drive north and Aaron very romantically indulged my every food request. Like the rest of America, I’m smitten with these new yogurt establishments that let you do everything yourself and encourage you to spend $10 on 1.5 pounds of Red Velvet Cake yogurt by providing only extra large cups. Usually when we go, we’re with Miss Gummy Bears and Sour Worms, so it was wonderful to get my own extra-large yogurt without having to fret over the ill-matched strawberry sauce and Reese’s peanut-butter pieces on Oatmeal Cookie flavored yogurt. Driving 1.5 miles off the Lake City exit to get a frozen yogurt in the middle of a Florida afternoon was emotional milestone #1.
Other milestones would be reached as Aaron cleaned the refrigerator and I sat on our new Craigslist sofa special. We ate Mexican at 8:30 p.m. and slept on the only new thing we’ve ever bought in our life—a big, fat, expensive mattress. Aaron fixed some flooring and took care of some other dirty surprises left by our tenants. I cleaned countertops over and over again just to keep the Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle scent alive (Note here: my friend Kelsey hooked me up with some really nice hand soap and cleaner; this was an act of genius, as far as gift-giving goes to those in transition. When I started to feel overwhelmed, I just wiped something down with this really luxurious cleaning product and felt in total control again). We talked about the vision we had of our second life in this house—about how we plan to re-cover our dining room chair cushions to match the colors of the rainbow just to hear Clara say, “I’ll sit on purple tonight.”
And, slowly, deliciously I am losing just enough sanity to be able to cope with all eighty major changes we’re experiencing right now. I’m pretty sure I’m going to try out placenta encapsulation this time around to avoid the somewhat-severe baby blues I had after Clara was born that are supposed to worsen with Baby #2. Maternity leave is a foggy business when you work completely online, even foggier when you add a two-year-old, and I need all the sketchy, holistic help I can get.
Aaron is driving down our Subaru now from Illinois, and soon we’ll be reunited for good. We heard in our birth class last night that one woman was 10 centimeters dilated and simply said, “Give me a minute. I’m not quite ready to have a second baby.” She stopped contracting and pushing altogether for an entire hour as she got used to her new reality. There are things to be worried about: Will I really be able to teach three classes, take one graduate class, and stay home with a newborn and a two-year-old without childcare for a year? But our kids make us better people. We eat dinner at the dinner table and address each other with “please” and “thank you.” And, Clara loves this baby, which makes me happy and excited to be a small family in a big world. Clara kisses the baby at least ten times a day and tells me lots of stories about where the baby will sleep and go to the bathroom. She nuzzles the newborn diapers we bought and sings “Rock a Bye Baby” to the empty infant car seat. There are so many questions, but I think the answer is always love.
Meanwhile, I am REALLY pregnant and probably already dilated 6 centimeters. My belly contracts all the time and the baby’s head routinely bumps various cervical nerves. I haven’t bent over in the last two weeks and can only roll over in three stages—first the legs, then the belly, then the head. Up until now, I have not been pregnant, really. I kept studying my ankle in last night’s class because I’m pretty sure it’s swollen. This could all end on Sunday when Aaron is back and rested and I’d be okay with an early onslaught of pure chaos, which is what two big dogs, one two-year-old, one newborn, and two adults on a full-sized bed sleeping for at least a few nights in one guest room looks like.
But back to love. Here’s Cuddlebuns passing some out: