We rounded another bend in the road towards parenthood: we’ve started our birth class.
The punch list is getting smaller and smaller with every passing week. Items are being checked off the list with efficiency; we’ve chosen a pediatrician whom we really dig, the hospital bag is just about packed, the bouncy seat was put together, her bed sheets have been laundered, and her “go home” outfit has been selected. I’m still planning on taking a one-night nursing class (on the calendar as "Boob 6:30 pm"), just to get some of the basics down.
School is back in session which means I’m back to work. And boy oh boy am I feeling a difference in my level of energy – I have none. By the end of the day I’m socked and my feet and ankles have all but disappeared into fleshy loaves of bread. Because reaching my toes is a bit of a grunt-inducing task, last night I asked Big Red to press on one of my feet so I could see what it would do. To my horror his thumb left a depression that took several seconds to recover and plump up again. It was like a Tempurpedic mattress! I also now have a small numb spot on my belly thanks to the last leg growth of the baby. Both of these symptoms aren't anything too terrible, and mostly just annoyances. The evenings are kind to my feet and by morning they've returned to a reasonable state (I can see definition in my ankles again). I’m sure it helps that Big Red is willing to give foot rubs, too.
For most of this journey I've had very little to complain about and much for which to be thankful. I’m lucky in that I've been around babies my whole life, even working in the infant room of a daycare center while in college. Wobbly heads, changing diapers, and the general handling of a baby is not something I ever worry about. In fact, I love babies and can’t wait to hold my own. Last night though, the instructor at our birth class said something that stuck with me in a way that it hadn't until just then. She was talking to us about early labor and the stages of the whole process, what to expect and all that jazz. She encouraged the class to, while in the segment of early labor, take time to be with our partners. Watch a movie, go for a walk, even to cuddle because once we leave the house, “You leave as a couple and return as a family.”
For thirteen years it has been just us. We've had each other all to ourselves. When she made that statement, even though logically I've know this is what will happen after I deliver, the tiniest hint of panic and sadness came over me. And not because I’ll have to take care of someone else, or the energy required to do so, but more so because the era of just us will now be put on pause for at least the next couple of decades. I thought about it again on the way to work and to my surprise I got a little teary-eyed. In that moment I wanted to turn the car around, drive home, and give Big Red a giant hug. This is the first time in all these long months I've felt emotional in a way that I could not control.
Thirteen years has been amazing – all the ups, downs, twists, and turns, and I’m so glad we took the path we did and have had those years to be just us before we become a family. I know my husband inside and out, and can predict with sniper accuracy how he will react in virtually any situation. And he can do the same for me. No doubt that will aid us in this next chapter. This also makes me more resolute to remember to work hard to create those moments of just us, when we can, even after the baby arrives.
Today happens to be Big Red’s birthday. We’re going to go out to dinner to celebrate. I still need to wrap his gifts, and thankfully I get home before he does. But when he does get home, I’ll give them to him, along with a great big giant hug. And the evening will be that much sweeter.