“Mommy, can you come here?” Susanna yells from her bed.
“Nope. I’m sitting down now and I can’t get up,” I shout in the direction of her bedroom.
She responds with a desperate plea. “Mommy, I’m scared!”
I respond with apathy. “That’s too bad. I’m not.”
Silence. Then, “Mom?… You usually deal with this better.”
“Susanna, my legs are so sore. I just can’t…” I trail off, still sitting on the couch. “Maybe daddy can sing or hum a little?”
Stan picks up on the cue from his spot by the computer. He starts humming a single note and doesn’t stop. It’s more like the monotone drone of a faraway engine than anything resembling a song. Either Susanna feels comforted by the noise or simply gives up on her parents. And it’s wonderful. Until the creature in my abdomen starts hiccuping and I’m reminded we’re going to have to step up our parenting game a little. An infant won’t care if I have sore legs and won’t be pacified by remote humming. Yep, there will be some big changes in the next few weeks, or days, around here.
I’ve already gone through this twice before, so I have some idea of what’s coming but it’s all rather hazy; as if the eight years actually passed in dog years. Other people seem to feel the same way–like I’m a first time mom–and friends and neighbours have showered me with advice and resources. I’ve diligently read their books on hypnobirthing, watched their CD’s on deciphering infant noises, and noted the advantages of perineum massage and eating your own afterbirth. Though I’m the first to admit it’s been a while, one thing remains crystal clear despite the passage of time: everyone has ideas about birth and infant care. There are so many different approaches and bandwagons to jump on it’s like trying to decide which whirling ride to try first at the fair. When you’re seven. But some rides are too much; they make you feel awful, so, if you’re an especially wise seven-year old, you’ll stick to the rides that are fun. The ones that work for you. Parenting is at least as overwhelming, and certainly as chaotic, as a carnival. To stay sane you have to try as hard as that dizzy seven-year old to stay the course. You have to remember that you’re the mom. And a mom gets to do, will do, has to do, what a mom’s gotta do. Even if all the other moms are lining up for the ride around the corner.
I’m practising the “I’m the mom” line because it’s already a little confusing around here. My daughters are so excited by the prospect of a baby they’ve assumed significant ownership of the whole process. When discussing whether or not their new sibling will come out bald Susanna comments, “I think it’ll have hair because we produce hairy babies, right mom?” As if this pregnancy is a family event and I just happen to be the surrogate mother. Belén assures me she’ll be the first to go to the baby in the wee hours of the morning, stating I shouldn’t be surprised to find her at the change table before dawn. When my friend asks me who will be delivering the baby, I wonder if everyone else is confused, too. Why, I’ll be delivering it. Who else would be giving birth? My daughters? It turns out she was asking about my doctor.
Adding a new family member is a physical, spiritual and emotional process and we’re making progress on all accounts, though in some areas more than others. Our catch-all room that looked like this not too long ago now looks like this:
We’ve also figured out how to fit a third child into our vehicles after weighing a very serious suggestion to “bungee a seat to the hitch of our car.” Mental strides are being made, too. If you’re an educator you know what teacher-dreams are; nightmares where you yell at the top of your lungs, standing on your desk, trying to get the attention of a wild wolf-pack of students. Well, until lately, I’ve been having mommy dreams instead; I forget my baby at home while I go to work, or leave it in the same dirty diaper for days on end. But as I get closer to the due date, these dreams are more and more rare. Perhaps the new-found confidence is due to the youtube videos we’ve watched on how to swaddle babies, or maybe it just takes nine months to get those mother instincts in gear. Stan’s fatherly tendencies are also kicking in, despite being overheard repeatedly, saying, “The key to babies is to get them out of the baby stage as fast as possible.” Just last Saturday he compiled a spreadsheet of hundreds of baby names, indicating patterns of popularity throughout the last century. I’m not sure this will make the task less daunting but I was happy to see him engaging in the process and getting prepared in his own way.
Ready or not, kitschy or plain, sore legs and all, this baby is coming, so I’d better get to my spot on the couch and enjoy a few more quiet evenings before humming and apathy don’t work anymore…