But, here I am.
I have watched as the hours have passed today.
9:30 AM – I was walking. My first mile after months of being told not to push myself. Just a mile. Just a mile.
10:30 – I was picking up Asher, wiping down counters, kissing my husband goodbye for the day.
By 11:00 – they were coming in small waves. A soft stirring. I picked up my son from the school bus and I fed my children lunch.
Noon – I rested. On my side, glass of water in hand, talking to the stirring, asking my own body. Stay or go. Call or sleep.
By 1:00 – I called.
3:00 – We weren’t there to deliver and we certainly weren’t taken seriously. We were there because I called. Because I listened to myself. When they asked if I’d like to be checked out, to see if the contractions were real or not, if they were doing anything, I insisted. Please. This is my fourth child. Yes, I can talk through them, I can walk through them. No, I am not wincing or yelling or crying. But I know my own body. These are not pretend, this is not practice.
3:30 – Finally hooked to monitors, the doctor came. Drink water. Take a shot. See if these go away.
4:00 – Nurse leaned in, told me she didn’t think they would.
5:00 – I was smiling at the doctor, as she apologized for not admitting me sooner, as the nurses buzzed around me to hook up IV’s of antibiotics, to set up the warming light for a newborn.
6:50- There was pressure, just enough to tell me it was time. I told a nurse, who then caught my daughter’s head.
6:54 – My daughter slid from me, effortlessly on my part, she appeared on her own, in the midst of a flurry of bodies, everyone rushing into place, like they had all missed their cues.
The doctor arrived in time to cut the cord.
That was last week.
And today, I’m reliving every moment as they pass.
Meanwhile, my two year old is crawling under an empty laundry basket, like a turtle’s shell. My older children are running amok. My husband is running with them. Our house is busy, busy, busy – but I’m sitting on my bed, with my tiniest child, listening to her sleeping breath and appreciating this quiet moment as it happens.
My last baby is one week old. The pregnancy and giving birth chapter of my life is over.
The last week is over.
Before I know it, this little girl beside me will be running into the world without me too.
Before I can even catch my breath, she’ll be the one calling me, asking if I think it’s time.
Or maybe not. Considering how she chose her own day and time, nearly a full month ahead of the doctors predictions – considering how she didn’t need me to even push for her to make her way into the world – I’m hopeful she won’t even need to call, that she won’t question herself at all.
I’m working on something new.
Pregnancy has this affect on me. Some women nest and prepare their homes, I get anxious to create. I see the due date looming on the horizon as a deadline of sorts. Must accomplish so many chapters, stories, projects, before this baby arrives and throws my life into a whirl.
This new project is a combination of things. It is part fiction, part personal, part photography, even, in some part, this (and my former) blog.
And on the side of this new side project, I have an MFA student who has asked if I would write along side her, that we might keep in touch with one another and exchange fiction-in-progress.
It occurred to me recently that I went an entire year without submitting a single piece of writing.
This must be remedied.
There is this terribly cheesy scene in the movie Face-Off where John Travolta essentially pets his children’s faces. It’s intended to be a means of recognition, a loving gesture of seeing someone with more than your eyes. Or…something. It’s awkward and weird and made my husband and I chuckle.
Fast forward to now, to our own little home with our own little children. We tuck them in each night, sing, pray, kiss…and noggin. It’s something my husband started, a gentle rubbing together of foreheads while saying “Noggin!” It’s cute, though, probably something outsiders would consider a little odd. (Not as odd as Lila-Bean’s “Give me a bear kiss!” that she clamors for every night, wanting us to growl at her like a bear, but I digress.)
This afternoon, Asher-Doo and I shared a hug after a boo-boo. I asked if he would like a kiss and he nodded that did. But when I went to put him down, he reached up and patted my head. I thought perhaps I had misunderstood where his boo-boo was and I kissed his forehead again. He patted my head again and said “Nana” then leaned in to me, awaiting a noggin.
And I thought, how wonderful is it to be family, to be marked by silly, but comforting ritual and routine, to be included in something so small and personal that all the world can look in and snicker for all they want, but my heart won’t be any less warm and my children won’t be any less happy.
It’s a silvery blue morning and I don’t want for anything more.
Up before the day begins, I have a vicious cough that won’t let me sleep. I’m brewing coffee and looking out the window at the hazy sky over my neighbors roof. Their driveway is directly outside my kitchen sink and we hear every car door open and close, every engine rumble, every step from door to door.
Our neighborhood is small. Our house is small, but this is not a complaint. This is a blessing. A small house means less to clean, less space to heat and more of a need to be close to and conscious of one another. We are cozy, not cramped.
Our neighbor leaves for work – car door opens, closes, engine revs, tires drag over pebbles – I hear my children stir beneath their blankets on the other side of the wall.
The pellet stove turns clicks and shushes into life behind me, and I’m overwhelmed by warmth. Not from the fire that hasn’t yet begun to blow, but from the rush of comfort these small ordinary moments bring me – my children shifting in their slumber, a fire stirring in the next room, coffee filling a pot before me, the silvery light over pouring over my counter tops, reminding me of winter, of advent, of peace.
The house breathes quietly, the stove still warming, sleeping bodies still resting.
The coffee finishes brewing, and I am thankful.
For the first two months, I was exhausted and nauseous.
Then there was a sub-chronic hematoma and extra ultrasounds, no exercise.
And last week, we learned that my Lila-Bean will have a sister.
Life at the moment is consumed by editing photos for clients and trying to find that balance between work and family. Some days I fail. Some days I succeed. Most days, I think of writing and look forward to the winter. My inbox will not be full of inquiries and requests.
It will be an entire season to write.