It’s nearly 4 o’clock in the morning, and I’ve just woken up to pee for the third time because that’s pretty much all you do when you’re pregnant. As soon as I open my eyes, I know I won’t be able to fall back asleep. I wake up a lot these days and have developed a knack for predicting when I will be able to go back to sleep and when I will lie in bed until my alarm goes off.

I can feel her squirming about up near my right rib cage. The doctor told us we could have her any day now, but she still doesn’t have a name. It is no secret that I will not miss much about pregnancy, but it will be strange not to feel her little kicks and tumbles each day. I’ve grown fond of the constant reminder of new life.

It is now 4:32 and I’m hungry, so I decide to go ahead and get up. When I do, it throws the bed into chaos. Our cat, Tony, immediately jumps down, deciding it must be time for breakfast. Balto, the dog, leaves my side of the bed to go curl up next to my husband. Tyler sits up abruptly and asks what’s wrong. Even though this getting up before the sun happens a lot lately, he always feels the need to make sure I’m not going into labor or in any kind of pain.

I fix myself a bowl of cereal and wander into the living room unsure of how I’ll spend my extra hours. The house feels too quiet to be disrupted by the sound of the television, so I leave it off. I might dabble on a project for work or do a little reading. Still contemplating what to do, I take a peek into the nursery. Perhaps there’s some tiny detail that needs to be finished. A book I forgot to put on the shelf or an outfit I didn’t wash. Did I write all of the thank you notes? 

But as I flip on the porcelain lamp, sitting atop a classic Peter Pan book, the room appears to be complete. Maybe too complete. It’s baffling to think that less than three months ago, this space was a disaster. The walls were bare, there was a hole in the ceiling and we didn’t own a single item fit for a baby. No crib. No rocking chair. No teeny, tiny little footed pajamas. But now I just look around the room, and it’s waiting for her. The antique Jenny Lind crib in the corner with the freshly laundered sheets. The Cypress floating shelves Tyler insisted on building himself. The delicate quilt my Mawmaw had crocheted for her, before she passed away just last month. The teddy bear named Annie that I toted around as a child. It’s all here, just waiting.

It’s good that it’s all finished, isn’t it? The mile-long to-do list I made for us just after Christmas is complete. And while that should bring peace, I can’t help but feel restless. Did we do everything we were supposed to? Surely there’s something we forgot.

I settle into the glider in the corner and dream about how this time next week I’ll be rocking her back to sleep, likely at this same early hour. Looking down at her rosy cheeks and tiny nose. She’s still such a mystery. I place my hand on my belly and think about the thin layer of skin that separates us. “What are you like?” I want to ask her. “Do you have your dad’s red hair? Or your mom’s green eyes? Are you a good sleeper? What do you dream about? Will you think your dad is as funny as I do? 

Are you going to be a writer? 

An engineer? 

A dolphin trainer?

I hope you have freckles. And a silly laugh. I can’t wait to take you on trips with us. We’ll climb mountains and swim in the ocean and explore other countries and cultures. I hope you’ll love them as much as we do. 

I want you to be compassionate and adventurous and brave. A strong voice for yourself and for others. Mostly I just want you to be you. Unapologetically yourself. I don’t want to ever make you feel like you need to be someone else. I hope you’ll know how deeply and specifically you were loved before you ever existed. To never doubt how much you belong in this family.

So in a few days, I will hold you in my arms. I’ll rock you and read to you and sing off-key to you. But for now, I will sit in your quiet, expectant room  – waiting for the sun to come up and waiting for you to come home.”