Sunday, January 31, 2010

Put a ruffle on it

When I was pregnant with Madeleine, 12 years ago, I was so ecstatic to be expecting, so happy to have the pregnancy progress well, that I barely thought of how it affected my mood. To tell the truth I didn't pay that much attention to myself, so busy was I counting kicks and sewing and painting in her sweet Dick and Jane nursery.

I worked at my dream job as an editor in the big city, floated through the days with a good deal less concentration than is flattering in retrospect, and gave serious concern time to the harmful effects of waiting at the Metro station and breathing in bus fumes. When I went into labor, it took my best friend who'd been through it before to tell me we needed to stop shopping in order to call my husband to take me to the hospital. I didn't even notice that I was in labor because I was so overjoyed to be having a baby. Silly but true.

When I was pregnant with Sarah, 10 years ago, I was of course 10 years younger than I am today. Basic and not very profound, but true. That pregnancy was so very different because I was chasing the precocious Madeleine, whose first and favorite word was "danger." We also were moving and for some part of the pregnancy I was working part time doing mind-boggling editing for a medical research outfit that was frankly WAY over my pregnancy brain capabilities. Sarah was a swimmer, almost never kicking or elbowing me with force but pretty consistently doing her baby water ballet. Of course it must be noted that at 26 weeks I was put on bed rest and we were simultaneously moving from city to city, renting a cute but ill-placed apartment amongst rowdy graduate students. I can remember one late spring night of every neighbor partying outside our bedroom window when I padded to the back door and shouted that they certainly didn't want to see the "wrath of the pregnant girl" so they ought to quiet down.

My husband thought that was really funny.

When I was pregnant with Grace I was selling a lot of real estate. I used to joke that she was such a quiet baby because she looked around, said "Mommy's busy. I'd better be good." My beloved grandmother was leaving her independence behind for assisted living. We were moving our family into my dream house on half an acre in a cute little town, in part to be closer to Grandma. I don't think I ever counted kicks because I was so busy running. Grace was a happy baby, born just in time to meet my grandma before she left the assisted living for heaven. I remember in the early days of Grace's life some rare moments sitting with her on the south-facing window seat in my dining room just wishing things would slow down.

When I was pregnant with Laura, we had moved to the country and begun to live a rural dream life. I experienced more peace surrounding her pregnancy than with any other. It seemed I knew how to do this, finally. I spent a lot of time on hobby farm chores, gardening and stretching fence wire in my maternity overalls. We left the public school system and figured out how amazing it is to be able to learn together. We ate organic food, a lot of it grown ourselves or by our neighbors, and took a lot of slow walks. Conversely Laura was apparently born running.

This time around, despite being more than a decade older than with my first pregnancies, I feel a lot like I did then. I live with a sense of the miraculous. And I experience a primal sort of protection urge surrounding everything that might happen to our little family. (That strikes me doubly funny: The fact that I feel even a tiny bit responsible for ensuring safety in this crazy world coupled with the fact that I think of our family as "little," which I really do.) I recognize that I've been snappish, even though there are no neighbors with late-night parties to take this out on. I realize that I'll drink a glass of juice and lie down to count kicks for no particular reason.

I'm sewing and baking and painting and nesting and I just find it all so exciting. Last night my husband and I went out on a date -- thank you, Mom! -- and I felt happy to be going out and thrilled to be heading home again. Wrapped up in a miracle.

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