On Friday, a dear friend gave birth to her second child, a son. Today's post is in their honor.
Ten months. (Not nine - I don't know how/where/why that myth started, and I don't know how it's hung on for so long without someone blowing the lid off. Bye bye, lid. You've been blown.)
Ten months of anticipation. Of waiting for the arrival of the creature you know will change your world. The creature who will redivide your timeline into The Before and The After. The creature who you are giving life to and who will, in turn, define yours.
Ten months to prepare. To design a nursery and buy the onesies and go to check-ups and grow a belly and learn to waddle and sleep on your side. Ten months to guess the sex and pick a name and form a birth plan. Ten months to feel the kicks and see the sonograms and hear the heartbeat.
Ten months to wonder. What color will his eyes be? How do I feed him? When will he sleep? Am I going to know what to do when he cries? Have I done everything I need to do? Am I ready? What does "ready" mean? When will he come? Why am I so nervous? Or is that excited? Have I ever felt so nervous and excited at the very same time?
Ten months of keeping a secret. A secret that the person inside of you is someone you already know. You know what foods make him kick. You know what positions make him move. You know what time of day he is quiet, and what time of night he decides to do somersaults. You know that you talk to him, out loud and in your head and in your heart. Conversations some can hear, but most they cannot. Experiences you never have alone because he is always with you, your comrade and companion and friend. Your baby.
Then someone decides your ten months are up.
You go to the hospital. You get the plastic bracelet. You put on the gown. You try to walk. Or bounce. Or breathe. You grab the bed rails or the extended hand or the sheets. You watch the monitors and listen to the beeps. You chart the progress and wait for the 7-8-9-10 and watch the clock. He is coming, and you can't wait to meet him. In person, that is.
And then you push.
There he is. He is finally on your stomach, in your arms, under your lips. He is cleaned and weighed and measured. He is swaddled and capped. He is back on your stomach and in your arms and under your lips.
You are happy. Deliriously so. Whatever pain or fatigue or frustration you had felt just minutes before becomes a distant memory, a story to tell, notes to compare. Now you are more present in your present than you have ever been. For the first time, you bear witness to a seismic shift in your life as that shift is taking place. You don't need perspective or distance. It is happening now, and you know it. You feel it.
You get wheeled to your recovery room, and he comes with you. You get put in a new bed, and he is next to you. You feed him for the first time. He lets you eat up his every detail. You change him for the first time. He changes you forever.
It's your favorite song being played loudly, your favorite book being read by your favorite actor in your favorite setting, your favorite meal being served inside of your favorite piece of art and eaten with your favorite friends...all at the very same time. It's goosebumps on your arms and butterflies in your stomach and a fast-beating heart and flushed cheeks...all at the very same time. It's your once-favorite memory becoming nothing more than a trifling afterthought.
It's the fruit of the decision you made ten months ago, and all the hoping and praying and trying tied up with it.
It's smiling so big and so hard your face might crack, your heart might burst, your eyes might forever be crying.
It's the day your anticipation and preparation and wonder and secrecy become the person you introduce to the world. You'll share him, but he will always be yours.