Dear Charlee: A message for you before the baby

Dear Charlee Kate,

You’re about to be 17 months old. And your life is about to change. Big time. But before it does… I just want you to know a few things.

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I was a bit nervous. Scratch that. I cried (sloppily) and thought I might crap my pants (don’t use that word until at least college). Don’t get me wrong, I have always liked babies. I mean, who doesn’t? I even love children. I’m a teacher for crying out loud. If choosing to love on 6th grade, pubescent, stinky, awkward 12-year-olds doesn’t scream “Lover of Children!” I don’t know what does. Even so, upon seeing that little plus sign, the idea of your father and me masquerading as responsible, adult, nurturing, prepared parents was a joke. We were anything BUT prepared OR responsible OR adult. We were two babies that suddenly found themselves creating (two) babies. Did I say were? I meant are.

I say all this to reiterate that God knew my heart better than I knew it myself. He knew that I was prepared to be a mother when I had just recently decided I couldn’t take care of a dog. I wasn’t exactly confident that I was ready for all the selflessness, the sacrifices, the duties of motherhood. But I didn’t realize how much you would change me. I didn’t know I was capable of being so completely enraptured by another human being — especially one so small… that does so little to earn it. I loved you wholly, infinitely when all you did was cry, sleep, cry, poop, and cry. Why? How? It really is beyond me. I don’t know how it works.

I didn’t feel like a mom at first. Having you around all the time was surreal, like I was the eternal babysitter and your REAL mom was going to come get you at any second. I don’t know when it hit me or when I began believing and truly acknowledging to myself that you were my daughter and I was your mother. Those maternal attachments crept up on me gradually until one day I found myself acting and feeling like a full-blown mommy. I’ll just give you some examples of my ridiculous (borderline obsessive) mommy-isms…

It’s literally difficult for me not to kiss you when I’m holding you. Your cheeks are so pudgy and sweet. I try not to constantly smooch all over you because I’m afraid you’ll start dodging my kisses or getting annoyed by them. That would break my heart.

I have a shameful amount of pictures and videos of you (and only you) on my phone. Don’t worry, I don’t share them with strangers or offer to show them to company or anything — I’m not THAT mom… yet.

I sometimes hold your hand while I drive. Not because you’re fussy. Just because I like you.

When you get hurt and cry on my shoulder, there’s a part of me that relishes it. Not that you’re hurting, but that I know I am your safety, your help, your person.

Sometimes you just want to lay your head on my shoulder and rock in the rocking chair. You’re not tired, you just want to cuddle. These are my favorite times of the day. Will you do this in high school?

It blows my mind to watch you learning new things. Even though I realize that you are no prodigy and every toddler does what you are doing (or more than), I think to myself, “I can’t believe she just did that. She is so _______ (brilliant, awesome, hilarious, precious… fill in the blank).”

Is it clear that I love you? Well let me be clear elsewhere as well: your father and I agree that you will probably earn a lot of spankings in the future. I am totally aware you’re not perfect and don’t expect you (ever) to be. You are a little toot sometimes, but it makes me love you all the more because I know you get a little (a lot?) of that from me. 🙂

With all this being said, you’re going to have a brother or a sister in 12 days. Honestly, I’m a little scared. I’m scared of how you will respond, of how to juggle both of you, of how to make sure you never feel neglected but also never become spoiled. I’m scared of how to be fair with my time and going through the tedious process of teaching you how to share (because you’re really bad at that right now).

But also, I’m scared that I don’t know how to love another as much as I love you. I know that God must add a chamber to the heart or an extra pump or ventricle or something to make it possible. But at my current state, I just can’t imagine it. You have captivated your father and me, and we love you with an intensity you won’t understand until you have kids. (And to have kids, you must have sex… so you’ll never understand, because you’re never going to do that.)

I just wanted you to know, ya know, before everything goes crazy and I don’t have much time to tell you, that you will always be the one that first made me a mommy, and that before any other title, I am most proud of that one.

Also, good luck with your sibling. I know you will be the best big sister… eventually…

Love,

Mom

Dear Men, This is Pregnancy

Dear Men,

My husband might disagree with me, but I don’t consider myself a man basher/hater. I’m not one of those women that says in disgust, “Ugh, they just DON’T understand how hard it is to be a woman…” I have several men in my life for whom I have an enormous amount of respect and love. And seriously, I wouldn’t want to be a man. Not just because your bodies look uncomfortable to me (which they do), or because I would be missing out on some fabulous Girls’ Nights, or because being tackled looks painful and masochistic. But mainly because I think being a woman is awesome. All PMS and feminine hygiene products aside, this is a good club to be in.

Except for right now.

Other than about 12 blissful, quasi-normal weeks God squished right there in the middle for our sanity, being pregnant kinda blows. And my two fetuses haven’t even been all that mean to me (oh Princess Kate, bless your soul). I’m going to attempt to paint a picture for you, men, even though I know I don’t have the artistic skills to paint one well enough for you to ever be able to vicariously experience, empathize, or understand these life-creating, uterus-expanding, back-breaking 40 weeks that we call pregnancy.

All I know is that God chose us, exclusively, to carry, labor, and deliver your children that you implant within us. There is no “your turn.” You’re welcome.

Here are some things you might consider, though, the next time you stop feeling sorry for me or any other knocked up gal-pal:

— Bladder control? Let’s talk about that. It’s like, every 15 minutes, this tiny mite atop my bladder gains 28 pounds and starts using it as a trampoline. Well, apparently, bladder trampolines have a weight limit. And running to the toilet is not a solution. In fact, running will only expedite the inevitable. You will wet your pants when you’re pregnant. You might even think your water broke, start crying, call your doctor, your mom, and your husband thinking you’re going into preterm labor, get a sub, and go to the hospital only to be told you wet your pants. And then, you might have to go back to school forced to tell everyone that has been praying for you (EVERYONE) that “No, I, in fact, was not in labor. The doc said I peed my pants.” Yep.

— I realize that you think you are often hungry. No. You don’t know hunger. We are hungry. All the time. This hunger is the type of hunger that makes you feel like you are going to throw up if you don’t eat something RIGHT THIS SECOND. Wait… come again? Isn’t that a paradox? Yes. It’s the worst paradox in the history of the universe. Why would I want to eat a million cows when I simultaneously feel like puking? It’s inexplicable. But we do.

— Have you ever had a Charlie horse? You know, when your toes start curling and your calf starts cramping like you just ran a marathon? We could eat 13 bananas a day and still wake up at 2 am writhing in pain. It eventually passes. For about 24 hours.

— Every time we sit down, lie down, bend down, look down… our entire back becomes one giant nerve bundle of anger. Standing up is impossible without assistance. But I have halfway mastered the roll to the side, prop up on one arm, push up to the knees, and find something sturdy pull up on. I am a 78-year-old arthritic woman.

— There are no words to describe the exhaustion. Your wife is not joking when she says she literally can’t keep her eyes open. This is the tired that extends beyond drowsy, way past fatigued, right into dead-man-walking territory. Oh, did you say I’m raising another child that fully relies on my constant wit and wisdom? Welp. Maybe this next one will have better luck.

— Here’s the kicker. We can’t sleep. I know, I know. We’re so tired. That doesn’t make sense. Nothing about creating a human inside your body from a minnow and an egg makes sense. This, least of all. I will be dog tired all stinking day and go to sleep at 9, only to wake up at 3am. I will lie there, eyes closed, wide awake, for hours, willing myself to fall asleep, reminding myself that in 2 hours… 1 hour… 45 min… 10 min Charlee is going to throw her paci at me from her crib. Knowing that as soon as she wakes up, I will be ALMOST asleep, because that’s just how life works.

— I’m sorry we cry all the time. We are embarrassed by our instability. Don’t ask us why we’re crying. We don’t know. Don’t say, “Well, there must be SOME reason.” Because then we will have to think REALLY hard and we might come up with a reason that is, in fact, not the reason at all (because, seriously, there’s not one). This fake reason will sound ridiculous (because it is), turn into a huge fight and then we will just cry harder.

— Don’t get me started on what this thing does to our bodies. And don’t suggest to your baby mama that she workout. Do you remember how tired we are?

— We not only lose our bodies. We lose our minds. God grants us the ability to forget what pregnancy was like (and thus forgetting most everything else), so that we will continue to get pregnant. For example, I will walk into a room fully intending to grab something before we leave, stand there, look around, walk out of the room and walk back in trying to jog my memory, and then just leave. Then, I’ll realize once we get wherever we’re going, I have no diapers or wet-wipes. THAT’S what I went back inside for. Dang it.

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While this is a rather abbreviated list of the hundreds of other (unmentionable) side-effects of pregnancy, it’s also a bit of a satire.

Don’t get me wrong, I am dead serious about all I just wrote. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s more like a walk into therapy. Physical and mental. But what an incredible experience to actually get to grow a person inside of me. I am a walking miracle. Go ahead, guys, be jealous. I am already so extraordinarily bonded to this being inside of me, and I don’t even know its name, gender, personality. I just know that I am this baby’s mom. I’m a mom. And since I get to be a mom, I think I win.

And if I’m being completely, totally, 100% truthful… there’s a part of me that actually LIKES being pregnant. I know. Mind-blowing. Nonsensical. Insane. But true.

So, dads, we’re not asking that you carry the next one. We’re not asking that you rub our feet every night or bring us breakfast in bed (but we won’t turn it down). We’re not even asking that you feel sorry for us. We just ask that you add a dollop of patience to your personality for a few months. We ask that you give us hugs when we’re being crazy, tell us we look beautiful when our faces are as round as our bums, and let us take a few naps on occasion. Because it’s not just our bellies that are changing, it’s our entire world. And we all know that we don’t have the emotional stability to handle that kind of thing right now on our own.