My sister is 8 months pregnant with her first child. When I visited her last week, it was fun to help her get ready for what lies ahead. I installed her car seat, helped her sort through baby clothes, assembled her baby swing – all those things that, when you’ve never done it before, can easily overwhelm.
I couldn’t help but feel a bit of deja vu, remembering when I was in that pre-baby, hugely pregnant state. The idea of giving birth, let alone raising a child, is so surreal. You’re kind of ready, in part because you only have one shirt that fits and can’t take another day of swollen fingers and cankles, and yet you are totally unprepared.
I could see that expression on her face at times. I tried to reassure her that it’s normal to feel that way – but on my flight home, I worried I may not have been the most comforting resource.
One day she was having cramps and felt like the baby had dropped. I asked her, “Does it feel like a hand is about to stick out of your vagina?”
That’s how I ease her nerves? Give her a haunting image of the baby clawing its way out?
She asked me how I knew when I was in labor. I repeated what I heard several times when I was pregnant with my first, and what is easily the most useless piece of guidance you can give to a first-timer: “When it’s the real thing, you’ll know.”
Honestly – what a dumb thing to say. Clearly the person doesn’t know, or they wouldn’t have asked.
In the end I don’t know if any words would’ve been very calming. Everyone has to endure and figure it out for themselves anyway.
But witnessing her in that state – on the precipice of motherhood – I was reminded how it is the end of so many things. She and her husband eat dinner at 9 pm. They light candles on the table and discuss their day without interruption. As I scrounged for snack food, I found kale chips and brie. No cheese sticks or juice boxes in sight.
The thing that struck me most was her approach to laundry. As she washed baby clothes, she opted to air-dry several items on a rack so they wouldn’t lose their color in the dryer. Ahahaha. These days I’m winning if I manage to rinse out the poop before I shove something into an overstuffed washer, and it all goes into the dryer on the same setting.
The poop I’m referring to here is from a baby. When I poop my pants, rest assured I always rinse it out.
One of the things my husband and I miss most from our pre-baby days is the ability to take a nap. Weekends consisted of Home Depot trips, some other stuff, and NAPS.
I am intrigued to see what my sister will be like as a parent. How will it affect her? How will her personality translate to motherhood?
Apparently she wondered the same thing when I was pregnant. When she arrived at my house to meet the baby, I was changing a diaper and the first thing I did was exclaim, “You just missed the biggest poop!” In her words, that’s when my role as a mother clicked.
I’m just realizing – do I have some sort of poop fetish?
Obviously life will change for my sister. She may not have time for candlelit dinners anymore. Then again, maybe she will if she makes it a priority. Sometimes I wish I put more effort into retaining my pre-kid pleasures (aka more naps).
But when I think about what’s in store for her – the unimagineable love you have for your child, and the deep, soul-fulfilling joy that parenthood brings – I am so happy for her, and excited for it to be another experience we can share. It’s well worth those missed naps 99.9% of the time.
Always give yourself leeway for the occasional day when you’d rather crawl back into bed.