I am beginning to lose touch with the way life felt before all days and weeks were numbered... before there was a specific date looming in the future. Usually, in the past, when a date has outstretched itself in front of me, it was something temporary that would happen (such as a vacation, a date, a birthday) and then life would resume. I would return from vacation after so many days and be back in the same life that I left, only days before. But pregnancy is different. Pregnancy is different because this far off, distant day that has seemed so far away for the past 8.5 months is suddenly six weeks closer than I ever thought it would be. Yes, I knew this time would come, on some level anyway. But back in November when a doctor handed me a piece of paper with "July 10, 2014" printed on it, it didn't mean anything other than a date that felt very distant and surreal. A date that extended far beyond that crisp early November morning, which already felt so far from any sort of warmth from mother nature.
And then the cold fall days turned into the death and dying of winter and everything else seemingly stopped except the growing baby inside me. The birds stopped chirping and the deer stopped eating and snow fell every few days until there was enough to cover the ground in a marshmallow-like frozen cover that would not thaw in months. The life that came with the colors of the fall were a suffocated memory that faded in my mind as the winter holidays approached and I succumbed to the lifeless, listless cold. That date in July began to feel so far away and out of touch that in some ways, it began to lose meaning in comparison to how I was feeling in the moment, which was isolated and cold.
Sometime in the middle of what was the coldest of cold and now, something began to happen. My body began to change and grow, the physical proof that despite the lack of warmth I had felt, life had indeed been growing inside me. My body -- much like a flower turned upward, drinking in the nutrients of the sun -- flourished and widened and grew to accommodate the new life inside me. But still, the warmth of the spring felt like it wouldn't come.
Sometime in late April and early May, Spring exploded and popped out it's vibrant colors of splendid pink flowers and deep green leaves filling all of the trees. And around the same time, this life inside me also popped and became physically obvious to not just myself and my partner, but to strangers walking down the street. In what felt like both a half a second and a lifetime, this baby inside me began to feel real in the sense that birth would soon come. And this is where I am now, in a cycle of counting upwards my days of pregnancy and downwards my days to meeting our son. My life exists in a sort of standstill that is still somehow always moving and revolving, yet seems to come back to the same starting point which is: It feels like this will never end. But this date, this "July 10th" is now something that I see printed on food cartons as expiration dates, warning and taunting me that it is not as far as I believe it to be. Part of my mind feels tricked into believing that this date will occur and this blessed event of our baby being born into our lives to be taken care of by us, only for everything to resume as it did before, or as it does now. Yet the other, wiser part of my mind reminds me that this is not like any other date set forth in the future, but the date in which no one thing will ever resume again as it does now.
And in all of this "waiting," I am realizing that the entire establishment of the foundation of who I am has changed. Yet much like witnessing a great fire, it is a challenge to speak of the fire as it is happening. People are running about, gathering belongings and loved animals and trying their best to flee the scene without causing any harm to themselves or anyone else. The inhales and exhales grow more rapid and sweat forms as adrenaline increases and cortisone kicks in. During the fire, there are no words or gestures or subliminal messages. The fire consumes us all in the sense that no distraction could possible take us away from the darting and erratic behavior of the deep orange and red flames. We are captivated in staying alive.
After the fire, when we have seen that we survived and the damage is minimal, we begin to talk. We share about the cortisone and the adrenaline and the fear of what we have encountered in our experience. We reflect on parts of ourselves that we lost and new parts of ourselves that, when faced with a life-altering event, we discover and begin to nurture as new parts of who we are. We begin to form a new way of life for ourselves deeply influenced by what we have just gone through. And it is my belief that the emotional, mental and physical changes that occur during pregnancy are much the same. I can't yet talk because I am still trying to learn to breathe. I can't yet relate to those on the other side (with children) because I am not yet there. Yet I can no longer relate to those who have not yet felt the pulls and pushes of pregnancy and growing up because there is a lack of empathy and understanding on both parts. The fire is still burning in the sense that the changes are still in rapid session and though the "July 10th" deadline approaches closer each day, I know that day is just the beginning of the era that will not ever resume in the life I know now or knew before now. The adrenaline is increasing, the cortisone is fluid in my veins, and the bright lights of the beautiful flames keep my mind alert most of the time. I feel the kicking and rolling in my stomach as our baby begins to decide when he will come out and meet us, to join us in this fire that the three of us -- mother, father and son -- decided to walk through together. I feel his tiny hands on the inside and wonder with hope, fear and relentless child excitement when I will hold his tiny hand in mind and reflect back as the flames settle. Because it will be that moment in which we all take a step forward together and enter into a new era, one which is new for us all.
In the meantime, I will my days as they count up and count down. I find my voice in writing (after months of hibernation), I fold tiny t-shirts and learn to put on diapers and snap carseats in and out of strollers. I try to keep my mind clear but occasionally, like today, succumb to the intensity and deepness that fills me as parenthood approaches and childhood releases. I do laundry and care for myself and my partner, a beautiful man who is the father of my child and whom I love so deeply I realize he is the only one I would choose this path with. And I do my best to remind myself that all of this is a transition and that it's simply OK that I do not remember life before this. I am eager to meet our son and care for him and love him and allow my life to transform into a life where I'm a mother. So most days, I wait. I reflect. I move forward in ways that I feel and also in ways that I do not feel. I watch as spring turns to summer and the birds sing and the trees become even fuller and thicker, as my belly becomes bigger and rounder. I spend my days in the in-between. The sacred and beautiful space that exists between not being a parent and being a parent. A place that I will never again spend so much time and so I remind myself to enjoy it.