This is a unique Christmas in our home. Where two stockings hang year after year, a third has been added. The first two read “Emily” and “Tyler” in matching monogrammed fonts. One features a jolly looking Santa Claus holding a star. I have no idea why Santa is holding a star. This one is Tyler’s because though he has few opinions about Christmas decor, he insisted on “being Santa.” On the second is a reindeer with long eyelashes and a poinsettia positioned delicately in her antlers. This one is mine. The newest addition features a baby polar bear eskimo-kissing its mother, but has no name on it.
We are six months into this pregnancy thing and have practically done nothing to prepare for all of the changes that are about to take place. We do not have a name. We do not have a crib. Or really any part of a nursery. We do not have a registry. I keep telling myself we’ll get to all of these minor details eventually, but I’m starting to feel like eventually is creeping up on us.
This week someone asked me how pregnancy was going, and I responded, “We’re just ready for her to be here.” “Aw, what’s her name?” he asked. “Oh she doesn’t have a name,” I informed him.
“That’s ok,” he said. “I’m sure y’all have been busy getting the nursery together.”
“Um, no,” I said. “We actually haven’t started on that either.”
So maybe we’re not so much ready for her to be here, but rather eager to meet her. She is like Christmas. Every year, I say I’m “ready for Christmas,” but I don’t mean that I’m prepared. I buy all of my gifts at the last minute, scramble around to squeeze in all of the holiday activities, and am devastated when the day arrives because it passes too quickly. I want to enjoy it. To sit in it for just a while, taking in all the feelings of gratitude and light and warmth.
The best way I can describe this time before her birth is a season of expecting. I don’t mean that in the literal sense that we are expecting a child, but in a deeper way I can feel in my bones. There’s an unfamiliar energy in our home. It’s like nothing I’ve felt before and I really can’t think of anything to compare it to. I suppose it’s like missing someone you’ve never met. An abysmal longing for her to be here that continues to grow with each passing day.
I’ve always been able to picture what the next chapter in my life would look like. When I moved away to college, I could picture the late nights with friends, being on my own for the first time, and maybe even going to class every now and then. Years before I got my first job as a news reporter, I could see myself standing in front of the camera with a microphone. When Tyler and I were engaged, I imagined us brushing our teeth together. I don’t know when or why I decided synchronized teeth-brushing was a sign of a happy marriage, but now you know our secret.
However, this next chapter – this whole parenthood thing – I can’t see. I try to imagine what she will look like and my mind can’t do it, though we’re all praying she inherits her dad’s fabulous red hair. I want to hear her tiny giggles and spit-filled babbles, but the sound isn’t there. Every time she kicks in my belly, I think about how it will feel to hold her for the first time. What her little body will feel like pressed to mine. How her tiny hand will feel wrapped around my index finger. But my brain can’t show me. It’s like a photo that’s out of focus. For the first time in my life, I can’t picture what the next season holds. I just know I want it to be here.
I know that it is not going to be easy. That we’re going to lose sleep and possibly our minds during the first few months. That she’s going to be mad when she doesn’t get her way in those early years. That she will say mean things to me when she is a teenager because let’s be honest teenage girls are horrible to their moms.
But I also know there will be more good moments than bad. That she already makes me want to be a person who lives and loves more deeply and who she is proud to call “mom”. That Tyler is going to be the most comforting, patient and hilarious dad. And that she will always know she is loved, despite her imperfections, and that she belongs in this family.
So as Christmas passes too quickly next week, I am going to try to appreciate this season of expecting. To not wastefully wish it away, but to embrace the feelings of longing and love and maybe even buy a crib and come up with a name.