Maternity Leave Eve – here’s what I’ve learned so far. 

It’s maternity leave eve today. I am at the end of almost 7 months of maternity leave, a gift I recognize and appreciate. I have been able to be the primary daytime caregiver for my son for these months and have been paid to do so, and although I think of maternity leave as a necessity and not a luxury, it is a privilege I acknowledge and feel grateful for.

These past months have taught me a few things. After being hurled into motherhood and parenting as every parent is, I have sought answers from a variety of sources as so many others do. Maybe it’s a bit pretentious to share them here, but I hope you’ll take what you like and leave the rest.

My first lesson was to learn that everyone has an opinion. Some people keep their opinions to themselves and others don’t. I was most surprised by a 12 year old Tanzanian boy who demonstrated considerable concern that my infant son was not wearing a sweater on a day of about 25C. His concern was conveyed with urgency and certainty that he knew the best course of action and I did not. Other opinions have been shared less forcefully but many of them with equal conviction that the way they have done things is in fact, the best way. This is a careful and cautious space with a new mother because the truth is I really don’t know, other than what my childhood and my intuition tell me. So I am looking for ideas, for support, for opinions. But it is dreadfully confusing when each opinion is shared with equal conviction in opposite directions. You find yourself pulled back and forth like a tug of war, eventually dropping the rope to try to regroup and reconnect to what seems right to you.

The problem with varying opinions is that everything is always on the line. We are not talking about what colour of onesie you should dress your baby in. We are talking about their current and future wellbeing, their mental health, how well adjusted they will be, their relationship with authority and self-discipline, their safety and security, their nutrition and physical health, how loved they feel and their future feelings of self-worth. For goodness sake, their brain development is on the line. BRAIN DEVELOPMENT. And all that is just from whether you spoon feed purees or start with finger foods. It’s all so intense, too intense and although there has been a lot of research demonstrating a lot of different things, I can get so lost in all of it that I feel this incredible weight on my shoulders every time I try to make a decision about my child’s care.

Where all this gets tricky is that you are tired. Bone tired. Tired in a way you never thought you could be tired. And I am convinced that tiredness is the root of all evil, not money as the Good Book has been telling us. Tiredness makes you lose perspective, makes you see things in ways that are not true, makes you feel like the earth will actually cave in if you can’t get that baby back to sleep so you can close your eyes again.

The tiredness is complicated by ideas of independence and the value of self-reliance. We are supposed to do it all and we are supposed to do it alone. We can accept help in the first few weeks when our mind and body have been ravaged and we can’t tell our right hand from our left, but if we want help when our babies are a few months old, we are looked at with disdain or at least a smidge of judgment. But we were never meant to do this alone. They say it takes a village… such a terribly overused, pithy little phrase, but it survives because it’s true. Two parents caring for children alone is just too much. Single parents, parenting without a network of support, have a job I wouldn’t wish on anyone. We are supposed to have neighbours, paid caregivers, grandparents, aunties and uncles, and not all of the blood variety, who take our precious babes and love them in ways that we can’t. I think it’s good for our little ones to grow up knowing that they exist within a wide net of people who love and care for them. And when this safety net of carers take our little people, we are allowed to sit down with our partner, or with a glass of wine, or with friends, whoever and whatever, to just let the stress dissipate. Of all the advice I’ve heard, letting people in is the best of it. It is for you, it is mostly for you, but it is also for your babe.

Despite the tiredness, the confusion of differing pieces of advice, the enormous pressure of every decision, a baby’s smile really can cut through it all. You work for those smiles, you toil for them. I have been blessed with a baby who loves to smile and it can turn my bad mood on a dime. You find yourself doing almost anything for a smile, however ridiculous. And the milestones? You never knew you’d celebrate a baby learning to sit up on their own or to wiggle themselves forward on their tummy like you find yourself doing. You dance, arms in the air, hooting and hollering kind of dance. Genuine elation, like your home team just won the world championships. It’s good stuff, magical, glorious stuff.

In the midst of all of it though, there are powerful and beautiful women who really struggle. They will often show you their best face; they’ll probably talk about the joys and leave out the hard parts. They might be struggling with their experience of birth, maybe with the complications of breastfeeding. Some are facing postpartum depression or anxiety with bravery. There are women who are gifted with spirited babies, those with highly sensitive babies and those whose babies don’t hit milestones at the times the handout from the midwives says they will. It’s luck of the draw and you get what you get, and most of us Mamas are struggling with some part of it.

All of the normal anxieties and stresses are heightened, and the bone tiredness goes even deeper, somewhere into the soul. This is where our ‘villages’ become not luxury but necessity. We need people who will show up, who will just listen and who will bring good wine and the patience to bounce or rock or play with the baby for a while.

Motherhood is both the toughest thing I’ve ever done and the most beautiful. I have been surprised by the extremes of emotions and experience that sit intimately side by side. In the midst of moments of enormous struggle, there is also joy. Where I am terrified by the weight of decision, I am comforted by the guidance of intuition. Perhaps the truth is that having a baby is the most useful mindfulness reminder I’ve ever had. A small human that pulls me back and out of myself into the present moment. Out of the weight of each decision, out of the competing advice, out of the tiredness and into what is. Into what that moment has brought, good, bad and ugly. Into celebration of all the joys and little moments that bring fun and laughter and silliness into the frightened and overwhelmed places in my heart.

 

Catch the moments one by one

There is a certain degree of mindfulness needed to survive and thrive on maternity leave in Mwanza.

Mwanza is not a booming metropolis and as a result there are scant opportunities for Mum and Baby entertainment. Some entertaining activities can be created through one’s own initiative; others can be adapted to fit into something beneficial for both Mama and the little one.

With few groups to go and join, my mind turns to the desire for productivity at home.

I work in increments of time when the babe is sleeping and needing nothing from me, and keep a running To Do list that brings a genuine sense of elation as it is reduced by my efforts. It feels validating, as if I have done something worthwhile with my day.

Hold up just a second…

I’m on maternity leave, which is paid support from my employer to recover from birth and take care of my infant son. There are countries, like the good old United States of America, where parents are not always provided with this benefit. Even here in Tanzania, normal maternity leave is 3 months and by the time I return to work, I will have been blessed with double that amount of time.

So, why is it that just taking care of my son doesn’t feel like enough?

I think we know that motherhood has always come up short when ranked in the list of one’s accomplishments. Going back even just to my mother’s generation, it would be rare to find a woman who struggled to justify staying at home with her kids. Many women stayed home, at least for a period. Going back two generations to my grandmother’s era, women were expected to be at home, unless of course it was wartime.

And we mothers can rant and rave about the devaluation of motherhood. We can post on our mommy blogs that raising a child is the most important work we’ll ever do. We can talk about it when we meet together. And I hope we do, because the world needs to keep hearing that motherhood is valuable.

But there is something wrong when even I, a new mother, find myself feeling like what I do taking care of my son all day is not substantial enough to feel like an accomplishment. There is something out of place when I find myself irritated with my son’s inability to nap well because of its impact on my self-imposed need for productivity.

Until I learn to be still and present in the repetitive sleep-wake-play-feed cycle of babyhood, I will keep hustling for some other activity to make my day feel worthwhile. And perhaps more importantly, I will miss it. Miss the little moments, the little changes, the new discoveries. Finding peace in those moments, in both the beauty of babyhood and all the frustration, allows me to make the best use of this time and to ride the waves of infancy with my little one. By practicing being present, I can place value on what I do rather than trying to fill space with other things.

But as I learn the importance of being present, I also experience the struggle of it. It’s a lot like meditation. If you’ve done a bit of meditation, you’ll know that as soon as you get into the seated position and focus on your breath for more than a few minutes, your muscles start to fire and you feel like you would give anything to be able to move. Or to follow those tangential thoughts wherever they may lead. Focusing on the breath becomes challenging, requires discipline.

One of my all time favourite slam poets, Andrea Gibson says, “…anyone who has ever sat in lotus for more than a few seconds knows it takes a hell of a lot more muscle to stay than to go.”

Practicing being present is similar. I focus in for a few minutes at a time and find myself itching to do something more intellectually stimulating or productive. My small son reminds me to be present at intervals throughout the day. As I’m feeding him and reading about Trump’s latest escapades on Twitter, I notice his eyes locked on mine asking me to pay attention. So I do, I put the phone down for a few minutes and carve that moment into my memory.

It’s as if I am fighting with myself to savour and remember these moments. I find myself writing down the memory often; how soft his skin feels or how he smells, what he looks like when he’s sleeping. I don’t want to forget anything,  I am afraid I will forget everything and yet, I continue to be distracted.

I am learning how to sit still in that discomfort, to notice the little moments that pass by so quickly and to focus in on this little love who has come into my world and who has made that world so very small. I am fighting with my tendency for distraction and drive for productivity to stay in this, to stay with him, one tiny moment at a time.

For now, he wakes and I return to craft some way to make playtime a bit more interesting today. I raise my half-filled coffee mug to all the Mamas (and indeed Papas too!)  who do this every day, may you find satisfaction in what you do and the staying power to be present in these fleeting days of infancy.

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It takes a village … To quell the fears of motherhood

It takes a village… Such an oft used phrase in this short form and used in its entirety argues for the community that is necessary to raise a child. 

But what this pithy phrase fails to say is why we need this village. A variety of interpretations exist, many people say that children need a group to belong to, they need a slew of different people to teach them about the world and help raise them. They need support in different ways from different people. One or two adults just doesn’t cut it.

True, all true. But what I think we fail to understand is that the village is also, and perhaps mainly, for the parent.

Giving birth and entering into the wildness of the postpartum period is immense. But so many people, so many women especially, either have to do this alone or feel that they do. We can become paralyzed by our culture of individualism and our pride in independence, taking those values into motherhood where they don’t always serve us well.

I gave birth to my son just less than 3 weeks ago and until the moment they laid him on my chest, I felt so afraid that I would not be able to handle the relentlessness and strain of motherhood. I doubted if I could really meet his needs and care for him well. But my experience as a new Mama has been surprisingly without fear. 

I have not once felt afraid because I have not once felt alone. 

I have been blessed to be surrounded by care and support through Ethan’s birth and in these first weeks postpartum and the gift that has given me is the freedom to make this remarkable transition to motherhood free of fear.

As new parents, I am learning that our instincts are one of our greatest resources. But when we are afraid, our instincts are overrun by the noise of our frantic thoughts and we can’t find the voice inside that knows what to do. We become wild and frustrated in this abyss of self-doubt. In many places around the world, mothers feel this inner chaos. In many homes today, mothers do not have the freedom to hear their instincts with so much pressure on them to do it all alone, or with their partner only. 

It takes a village to raise a child, yes indeed it does. But it takes a village to raise a child, because the village cares for the parents. A new mother (or father) can rest in their embrace, she lets them take care of her, she leans back into their support and she feels held and at peace. And as a result, she takes care of her child. She has more to give him because of what she has been given, she gives him her peace, her love, her attention. 

The best advice I got before I gave birth was to let people in. And my dear Mama friends, I say this to you too. Please, please invite others into your birth and your postpartum days. Let them come over and coach you, counsel you, cook for you, clean your house, bring your favourite takeout. Let them hold your baby and change his diapers. Let them listen to your heart as it breaks on the tough days, because even in a village motherhood is hard. They are there to hold you so you can keep going ahead, so that you can keep caring for your little love and so that you can be at peace. 
I have been blessed with an extraordinary “village”. My birth support team with my husband, my doula and my midwife. The healthcare professionals who had to be called in when things didn’t go as planned, the nurses who cared for me in my first days after birth and the surgical team who brought my son into the world. My parents, receiving us into their home, cooking and grocery shopping, doing laundry and holding our baby when we’re tired. My friends, some close and some far away, who check in and offer me their love and support. 
To my village, my gratitude knows no bounds. I firmly believe that I could not do this without you and it means the world to me that we are in this together. I will continue to lean on you as long as you’ll let me and if my instincts are right, that could quite possibly be for a very long time. 

Tell me the whole truth, the good and the struggle.

People like to tell war stories, especially when they’ve been through something hard. It is validating and liberating to speak about the pain, to break the silence. Mamas especially love to tell a good war story. Whether it’s a blood and guts tale of labour and delivery or a jaw-dropping story about the trials of breastfeeding, Mamas love to tell you they’ve been to the brink and lived to relay the details.

This makes total sense because mothering is damn hard work and birthing is pretty heroic, so it is important for these stories to be told and for space to be opened up for honesty and authenticity. Trying to figure out all the uncertainty, the not knowing, the learning on the spot in every stage of childhood and with every different child, is tough going. Giving life to these little ones is called labour for a reason.

But I wonder sometimes if in our search for authenticity and honesty if we have swung too far toward the harrowing. Not only Mamas, but my generation and possibly others, are in a period of exposing the truth, living with vulnerability and seeking to be authentic in how they present who they are and what they are going through. This is a remarkable time. A time when shame gets more of a kick to the curb as people speak openly about struggle, heartache and difficulty.

But I am worried we are missing the other side in our pendulum swing toward exposure. We have inadvertently assumed that everyone knows the good stuff and it is just the struggle we need to expose. So when I read blogs from new mothers, what I read is how hard the postpartum days are. I read about the nightmare that a 2 year old toddler can be. The stories centre on the child who won’t listen, the mother who is exhausted, the body that won’t return to its former glory post-birth.

What I don’t hear nearly as often is the transformation for the positive. The space that little life fills that you didn’t realize was empty. The joy you feel when that baby is first placed on your chest after birth. The rush of taking a baby home for the first time. The beauty of lying next to your sleeping baby and just watching their little chest rise and fall. Seeing your toddler get themselves dressed, watching your little one try something new for the first time. Laughing until you can’t breath at some weird and wonderful thing your tiny human just said to you.

But I want to hear it all. As a soon-to-be Mama, I want to hear about the struggle and the difficulties, they help me to be well prepared for the momentous transition that lies ahead of me and I also want to hear about the joy and the elation, they help me to look forward to what is coming. I want to know what it’s like to sit in between such extreme and bold emotions and to hold onto your head in the midst of it.

For me, pregnancy has been relatively easy. I haven’t struggled with morning sickness or back pain, I have been healthy and comfortable enough to keep doing most things. I don’t sleep well these days, but I sleep enough and I have the freedom to rest during the day if I need to. For the most part, I feel peaceful in my spirit, as if this is very much meant to be and my life to this point has been preparing me for it. These things feel awkward to say, because so many women struggle in pregnancy. They hate it, feeling uncomfortable, unwell and anxious. But to falsify my experience, claiming it’s been the worst 9 months of my life to fit into the Warrior Mama club is futile. So I stand in my good experience, give some gratitude to the gods and hope that the Warrior Mamas don’t hate me for it. I choose to go into delivery and postpartum hoping for a bit more of the same. Maybe it will all hit me upside the head when I get to that stage, or maybe it won’t be as awful as people say. My guess is that there will be enough goodness to savour and a lot of struggle to get through; I expect a good dose of both.

I am profoundly grateful for the Mamas who have told me both sides of the story. The ones who are boldly honest about the struggle and beautifully celebrant of the joys. I hope that as all of us seek to be authentic and honest about our experiences that we remember the necessity of speaking the whole truth, exposing both the difficulties and the joys. It’s never all struggle, even on the darkest days and being able to share both sides of the story is a gift to others and a gift to ourselves, helping us to maintain perspective, to hold onto hope and keeping all those pesky fears at bay.

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Dear little one, from your soon-to-be Mama

Hi little one,

How’s it going in there? You doing okay? I can feel you kicking and squirming around quite a bit these days, so I just hope that means you’re feeling comfortable and having a good time.

People say that I should be talking to you now, trying to bond with you. They suggest that I talk to you like you’re here already, but I just can’t get my head around talking to my protruding belly, it feels so very strange. So instead of talking to you, I’ve started to write you notes. I started about 10 weeks ago, things I’m thinking about, things I notice and want to tell you about. It’s been fun; maybe someday I’ll read them to you when you’re here and on the outside.

I am so very excited to meet you, little one. I am, of course, nervous about how you will arrive and what that process will be like, but I just can’t wait to see your little face and to find out what it’s like to hold you. I am so curious to know what kind of little person you’ll be and who you will grow up to become. I can’t wait to see your character emerge, your likes and dislikes, your temperament. I can’t wait to see whom you will most resemble, your daddy or me. It’s strange to be so intimately connected to you, carrying you around in my body, but to have no idea who you are yet. I am looking forward to discovering all of who you are once you are here.

But little one, I am also terrified of being your Mama. It scares me so much to know that in a few short weeks, I will be responsible for you.

I really don’t know how to be a Mama at all, little one. I have been collecting good tips, reading good books and talking to friends and family who are brilliant Mamas, but I don’t know how you and I will be together. I think it will take us some time to figure each other out, to know how best to connect with each other. Maybe it will be a life-long discovery as we both grow and change in the years ahead. For now, we’ll have to just take it one step at a time. We’ll first figure out how to deal with the wildness of your first weeks on the outside. You might have to be a bit gracious with your dad and I as we try to figure out what you need. It will be hard for you I’m sure, especially after 9 months of being comfortable all the time, but I promise you, we will do our absolute best. It will be a big change for you being exposed to the outside and for us, being responsible for you, but I am pretty sure you’ll be okay and we’ll be okay together.

Once we get that down, we’ll figure out what comes next. You’ll find this out when you get here, little one, but your Mama is not good at uncertainty. She loves being in control and being prepared. Your arrival is throwing that all off and she has to figure out how to let go, to embrace the not knowing, to be willing to ask for help. Little one, you will teach me more than you can possibly understand.

The great thing is that there are all these amazing people who can’t wait to meet you. When you arrive, you will change us all into something new. You will make me into a Mama for the very first time and I’ll never lose that as long as I live. You will make your daddy into a Baba, our parents will become your grandparents, our brothers and sisters will become aunties and uncles, and our friends will become the same. Your arrival will change us all; we’re pretty excited about being something new because we are connected to you, what a gift you will give us.

For now, little one, I am loving carrying you around with me. Feeling you move every day, shifting around inside. I am reading all about what you are doing in there, how you are growing and developing, getting ready for life on the outside. I am doing what I can to get ready for you, but for now, I am soaking up these days we have together. Days when I know you are safe and comfortable in there, when I know you are fed and content. Days when we can get up and go places together without planning ahead. These days are full of so much hope and anticipation.

You will be here so soon little one, and I can’t wait to see your little face, to smell your smell, to touch your skin.

Stay safe inside for now and when you’re ready, there will be so many of us to welcome you.

With so much anticipation for when you get here,

Your soon-to-be Mama xx

 

 

Quitting the Hustle

There are some habits that we cultivate over a long period of time that become so deeply engrained in our patterns of behaviour that we start to feel like they are part of our character. We say things like “that’s just who I am” or “that’s the kind of person I am”. But I’m not sure I believe it. I think that we develop a collection of habits that inform our behaviour. Some of those habits we deeply value and want to hold onto, others we do not and wish that we could let them go.

I’ve been thinking about one of those habits recently and decided it’s time for this particular habit to take its leave. My long-standing habit of hustling, of observing people closely to try to figure out what they want from me and who they want me to be so that I can be that to them. It’s a terribly tiresome habit taking a lot of my energy and focus so I want to kick it to the curb and move on.

The thing of it is though if I get rid of this habit, it means that I’m checking out of watching you to see what it is you want from me. I’m done trying to figure out who I should be in each different social context. I will no longer watch your reactions to what I say as signs that I’m on the right track, that maybe you do like me, that maybe, just maybe, this time, I am okay. I’ll stop, and if you want something from me, other than what I’m giving out, you’re going to have to ask.

You see it has been a long game for me of trying to figure out who others want me to be so that I can feel loved and okay in my skin. Maybe you’ve played this game too, sitting in a new social situation, unsure of yourself in the mix of people and instead of letting yourself be seen, you watch and try to figure out which version of you will be most accepted in that space. You try to match the level of intellect, the sense of humour, the interests of the group. You don’t want to let on that you really are not interested in the political conundrum being discussed or the pop icon being praised. You fit in, you blend, you adjust in order to be liked.

But the problem with all that is it’s bloody exhausting. You can’t let up because if you do, you’ll slip and the charade will be over. You’ll say something that will give you away and those you have been working so hard to impress will realize that you don’t really fit. Oh horror of horrors, this you cannot allow to happen. So you play, you watch, you create a version of yourself that will work. And when you go home or wherever it is that you don’t have to hustle, you collapse into an exhausted heap and swear to yourself you’re never leaving your house again.

I have for many years mistakenly assumed this meant I was an introvert. That it was the social dynamic itself that drained me, but I no longer think that’s the case. It is not being social that drains me, because in fact I find some social encounters distinctly energizing. It is the hustle that leaves me empty and in need of reprieve.

So I’m working on breaking the habit. Practicing showing up and being seen seems to be the antidote to the hustle and thus far, it’s working well. When we have the courage to let ourselves be seen as we are, we offer ourselves permission to engage from a place of authenticity and honesty with whomever we are with at the time. We are free to admit what we don’t know, what we are and are not interested in, what we feel. Now, I don’t mean let it all hang out and just be an ass. This is not permission to be rude or unkind. It is permission to just be, as you are. If you have had an exhausting day and your head is distracted by whatever your day held, let that be said and known so that others know where you are starting off when you come together. If you have had an amazing day, let that be shared as well. If you don’t catch the pop culture reference, don’t pretend, even if it means admitting you have no idea who Taylor Swift is.

To really break the habit though, means reminding myself over and over and over again that I am okay as I am. That I don’t need to prove myself to others, that they will like me as me and appreciate the honesty that I bring to engaging with them. And that if they don’t, they are not people I want to surround myself with. It is reminding myself that people are pretty good at detecting bullshit and can see through a cover story better than I may have thought. It is also understanding that bravery encourages bravery and if I am willing to show up and be seen, just as I am, I give someone else permission to do the same. And when we can engage with each other from a place of honesty, we are saying to the other, I trust you. I trust you to accept me as I am, I trust you to let me be myself in this space. I am not sure there is a greater compliment or a more profound gift than that kind of trust, both for the one who gives it and for the one who receives it.

 

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I don’t love my unborn baby… And that’s just fine. 

Pregnancy is a very weird and wonderful time and pregnant women are a very unique group of humans. In today’s modern world, there are apps for everything and you can be sure that there are a plethora of apps for the woman who is pregnant.

 
These apps will tell you what type of fruit or vegetable your baby most closely resembles that week: a pear, an avocado, a sweet potato. They will tell you how best to exercise, give you tips on nutrition and health, explain to you what to expect in antenatal care and labour, the list goes on, and on…. and on.

 
In each of these apps and websites, there are community forums, full of expectant mothers who share their joys, discomforts, fears and excitements with each other. These boards are a minefield of abbreviations, acronyms and short forms, which to the outside eye seem like words in a foreign tongue. Apparently, writing about pregnancy and birth needs its own language.

 
But in the midst of the confusing abbreviations, the questions about what foods are and are not safe to eat and the abundance of ultrasound photos is one resoundingly common statement…. So many to-be-mothers express an immense amount of love for their unborn baby. Oozing statements of profound love, being in love, feeling overcome with love. It’s like everyone is on their first date with the love of their life and texting through it for all to read.

 
This was a bit concerning for me at first as I didn’t connect at all to these sentiments. Was there something I should be doing to better connect with my baby? I just did not feel this sense of profound love, and I still don’t.

 
I wholeheartedly love the idea of my unborn baby. I love that in November, a tiny human will join our little family. I love that there is a small life growing inside of me. I love that I am in the process of becoming a Mama, that a dramatic shift in my identity as a woman is only a number of weeks away.

 
But right now, at this 20th week of my pregnancy, half way through, that is all there really is to love. It is still abstract, it is still disconnected, it is still only an idea.

 
There is nothing tangible for me to love. I am only just beginning to feel the flutters of the baby’s movement. A weird and wonderful sensation that is a bit like a fish swimming around in the lower part of your abdomen and bumping up against the fishbowl. It is thoroughly exciting and of course, makes the pregnancy feel just that little bit more real. But does this fish swimming tiny human conjure up love in me?

 
I have seen the baby through the wonders of ultrasound technology, as a tiny bean with a fluttering heartbeat and as a fetus fully formed and kicking away. Truly remarkable and awe-inspiring. Seeing those images cemented in me the idea that I would actually have a baby at the end of 9 months and not just a bigger tummy.

 
But are these feelings I am experiencing love? I really don’t think so. At this point, I have absolutely zero knowledge of this little life. Who is he or she? What kind of a little person are they? What do they look like? What will they smell like? What kind of things will they love?

 
It is a bit like the bride of an arranged marriage saying she loves her fiancé before they have ever met. Maybe you love the idea of your fiancé, the fact that you will marry and all that will bring, but you cannot yet love him, not without knowing him first.

 
I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will love my baby. In fact, I’m already afraid of the heart wrenching that will happen when he or she is first laid on my chest. I am sure I will be torn open, loving that little human in a way that is all new to me.

 
But for now I wait to love this baby. I settle for loving the idea and loving the transformation of both of us that is underway. I wait for the moment my heart is wrenched open. I wait to smell their smell, to see their face, to know their touch. I wait to see their characteristics emerge and to discover who they are once they are here and on the outside. I wait, in a beautiful anticipation of all that this relationship will be and become. But right now, at 20 weeks, I cannot yet say this is love. Right now, it is much more clearly hope, a deep and tangible hope of what is to come.

Actually I don’t, not yet anyway 😉