When I was 37 weeks pregnant with Harrison, I had no expectations. I mean, I was obviously anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child and I was getting to that very pregnant, very uncomfortable stage, but I was clueless. So clueless that when I did in fact go into labor at 38 weeks and 3 days, I thought I had the stomach flu. As a result, no one was called in time to make it to the hospital for his delivery. And actually, Ben’s grandma (an OB nurse for many years) later told us that we were lucky WE made it to the hospital for his delivery! What can I say? We just didn’t know and I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case it was false labor. (Side note: I do remember thinking that day that if it was “false” labor, there was no way I’d ever survive real labor without drugs as was my intention.)
Now, at 37 weeks pregnant with BWNo.2, I have expectations and my hopes are up. Because Harrison was early, I expect this baby to be the same. Last time I didn’t have a hospital bag ready until five seconds before we flew out to the door to go deliver the baby. This time my bag has been packed and in the closet for weeks. Because I am ready, my hopes are up that today (which begins anew each morning) is The Day. Part of this is physical. My back and hips are hanging in there, but I want to get rid of this extra 24 lbs. I’m carrying out front and hold 7 or 8 in my arms instead. Part of it is dealing with the unknown. I want to know if the baby is a boy or a girl. I want to know if I’m looking at three weeks or three days until I get to meet her/him. All of the uncertainty surrounding Baby’s arrival is too much for my big belly, my big hormones, and my big Type A personality right now. Yet, goodness knows, I am well aware that there is little I can do to spur on the process.
And really, there is irony in my anxiety and rush, for as much as I feel ready to have this baby, I am also a bit terrified of what the adjustment will be like After. I know it will be easy to love another child (I think of it like the Grinch’s heart growing and growing), but the thought of chasing a toddler while nursing and caring for a newborn is a tad daunting. I know there will be sleepless nights and fits of crying (for all of us!), but really, that’s already happening thanks to my inability to get comfortable at night and, again, those darn big hormones. So what is actually going to change? Um, everything? And what is there actually to fear? Probably everything. And nothing. All at the same time. Such is the paradox of parenting as I’ve come to know it. Why would I expect anything else?