Over the weekend, I gave in.
I gave in to every whim I wanted, from lounging around in bed watching old DVDs, to getting bagels (my first of this pregnancy!) with peanut butter and decaf coffee on an early Sunday morning stroll. As I walked while Alex slept, I felt the heaviness in my belly – my rotund basketball rounding out my gym tank top.
In a week (or less) she will no longer be there. Every time I glimpse my reflection, she will be a phantom; a remembrance; a story to tell one day. Instead, she will be in my arms, and I will have a face to put to the movements. I can hold her fists and heels instead of letting them jab me or crush my ribs. I can hear her voice instead of just imagining it.
We can finally stop pretending.
On Friday, I ordered pizza from Karyn’s on Green and got dressed up to go out in the middle of the day. I spent time with my husband. I cuddled my dog, looking deep into those eyes that are so much like a human’s.
I sat in my daughter’s room, rocking in her chair, reading children’s books. I cleaned. I napped. I drank a ton of water and chewed way too much ice.
I took a long walk and worked out and sat and sat and sat and read a book and didn’t check email.
I wrote nothing.
I thought about all that is to come; how I can’t quantify it or understand it or possibly measure it against anything else in my life. With every slightly intense Braxton-Hicks contraction, I wonder if this will be the one that will start labor. Every night, I look at my half-packed bag, going over the list of items still to be added. I straighten up the house. I put things in order. I wait and wait and wait for the start of the race.
I envision the finish line.
And finally, this: I have stopped preparing.
I trust my body. I trust my team. Quite simply, I trust.
And though I have a very specific birth plan, I am just eager to begin. To have my own journey, my own story, and at the end of the day, the ultimate result: a daughter.
I revel in this pregnancy, how long but swift, how nature continued to have a course of its own, even when I wasn’t always paying attention; and especially when I was. Even when I was complaining or uncomfortable or utterly in awe of the dance going on inside me.
And now, it is coming to an end.
6 days until my due date (and yes, I realize I can go as much as two weeks late, but this, my friends, is not even an option in my brain). I feel it will be this week. I feel it in my bones.
As I anticipate the arrival of my best friend, Nikki McFadden, on Wednesday, I wonder if we will have time to go to cafes and sit one last time, her and I, before all of this begins.
I think about the call I will make to my parents to tell them I’m in labor. Will it be the middle of the night? Will it be over their afternoon coffee? Will it be when they are just curling up to dinner and have to rush around, packing their bag and deciding whether to fly or drive?
All I know is this: Alex and I are looking forward to the change. To all of it. To sleeplessness and exhaustion and being overwhelmed and not knowing what we’re doing and memorizing and contemplating and loving… and the act of looking and staring and gazing, just to get to the truth of our daughter.
So, until I can write the story of her birth, until I can recall and capture every detail, I bid adieu to pregnancy. I honor and marvel at it. And I am appreciative of my body, for providing a home for the last 39 weeks.
For now, I close my eyes. I take a sip of tea. I watch the clouds roll in, yet another weather change to this bizarre season in Chicago.
I take a deep, cleansing breath.
I tell myself I can do this. I will do this. I can’t wait to do this.
I can’t wait to meet the other part of my family.
I can’t wait to bring Sophie home.