I unpacked the baby clothes last week.
They had been sitting in the basement for two years now, lying in wait for when we had another. Here I am, three weeks out from my due date as a third time mama, trying to remember what babies need, unfolding these clothes piece by piece. I’ve been marveling at the smallness.
I found out back in December. I was home alone and I couldn’t remember when my last period was, so I took a test on a whim. Two lines. Crap, I mouthed. I started pacing around the kitchen, muttering I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant. Again. We had been not trying/not preventing, and waiting for it to happen, but not expecting it so soon because of my history.
I wanted this baby. We planned on having another. We hoped to have another. It just took me by surprise. When Tim was coming home, I made him a cup of tea in a chalkboard mug with the message, “Merry Christmas, Baby!” scrawled across it. I gave it to him with a card, the pregnancy test, and shaky hands. He knew by the look on my face before he even glanced at my presentation.
“Three!” He said. “That’s great!” He told me it was a good time for it, and that we had wanted three, and that we should celebrate and order Chinese. We had a peaceful, cheerful night. The initial shock was over, and now I could settle into accepting this pregnancy.
But I don’t always handle my fear and stress well, and pregnancy hormones don’t make it any easier. I’ve been apprehensive again- scared of my ability to mother three children, scared of how my kids will adjust, scared of my new daily routine… Doubtful of whether or not I’ll be able to hold it together.
Take courage, I’d tell myself. Many, many women have had more than three children for many, many years before you were here fretting over your third pregnancy. If they can do it, so can you.
“We can’t let ourselves be overcome,” Tim reminded me. “You can’t dwell on the negative.” Thank heavens for this guy. He keeps assuring me that I’m doing fine. He tells me I’m more frightened than I need to be, and that we’ll make it, and that we will find a new normal.
As I neared full-term, I saw friends’ photos on Facebook displaying perfectly coordinated nurseries, diapers stacked neatly on the changing table, monograms hung above the crib, gorgeous little outfits laid out with care, smiling big brothers rubbing mama’s belly….
Us? I hadn’t pulled out the cradle, or ordered my birth kit, or looked for clothes, or put my midwife’s number in my phone. We still don’t even have names picked out for this kid. Maybe if I close my eyes and ears to the baby’s impending arrival, then I can delay it til I feel more ready. Right?
But I know that’s not true. So I pulled out the newborn clothes. I held them up- every single piece- to see the designs, the colors, the size.
The size! How tiny. Babies don’t really come that small, do they?
Warm memories flooded me. The pushing, the agony, the wishing I could give up and let someone else take a turn. The first sight of tiny wrinkled hands and squishy cheeks. The rolls and the vernix and that little tell-tale wail that gives me permission to breathe. Inhaling that newborn smell. The rooting for the breast, the first latch, the first diaper. Living on the couch for a few weeks, nursing, sleeping, changing, nursing. Floating through the sunny hours in an exhausted, sometimes tearful, sometimes blissful fog.
I caught myself smiling. This baby is coming, whether you’re ready for it or not. Why not prepare your heart to welcome him or her?
I cannot raise a child on my own, much less three of them. I will fail, sometimes drastically. There will be times I will think that I never should have started on the journey at all.
But I will climb this mountain called motherhood with sweat and tears- and one day, I’ll reach the top and be able to see the vista. I’ll see the steep spots I thought I would never be able to hike and the valleys that seemed impossibly endless. But I’ll also be able to look back and see the beauty of it.
Newborn clothes. They make you think.
You are coming, little one, whether I’m ready or not. And I will love you, always, and we will not lose heart. Our family will grow, and we will be sustained. His grace is sufficient.