"Momma? Are you sad? I see your tears? Everything OK?" She runs to me as fast as her nearly 4-year-old legs can carry her. She wraps her small arms around my no longer small waist and squeezes.
I thought I had hid them well but she somehow saw the tears. They started when I hung up the phone after hearing the words, "Head to the birthing center, they will be waiting for you." They became plentiful as I made the phone call to my husband, telling him what I was instructed to do.
I squeeze my tiny daughter back. We’d been through this before and had a beautiful little girl as the result. Everything would be OK, it would just be scary getting to OK.
The contractions had started weeks ago. The familiar, painless, tightenings that signaled that my uterus was "practicing" for the big day still months away. When they came on I would slow down, drink some water or juice and put my feet up. They usually left as quickly and uneventfully as they had come. This day was different. They didn’t go away. I laid down and they still were there, every few minutes. Then, cramping and pain started with them. So, I made the phone call. The one I didn’t want to make this time. Not this pregnancy. I wanted this one to be uneventful and perfect. It was most likely my last and such a miracle, I didn’t want a moment marred by hospital visits.
I arrived at the hospital soon after hanging up the phone. Within minutes I was hooked up to a machine that kept track of the contractions. A thousand questions later and I was left to lay very still, relax, and wait, clicking a button ever time I felt the baby move. My husband and daughter chatted and played next to me. I silently prayed, hoped and wished. "Please, let the contractions stop. Let me go home and enjoy this pregnancy. Let my baby be safe."
The contractions eventually stopped, just as abruptly as they had started. My OB was called and tests were performed. I was sent home with instructions to take it VERY easy. "Don’t do anything you don’t have to. Ask for help when you can. Be easy on yourself. That sweet baby is easier to take care of while she is still inside than if she is born early." Not prescribing full bed rest just yet, she suggested I do a modified bed rest and stick close to home. I nodded, wiped away the tears, and silently swore to comply.
As I fell asleep that night, my doctors words resonated in my head. "Don’t do anything you don’t have to. Ask for help...." Without knowing it, she had said something I had been needing to hear for months.
Between parenting a 4-year-old, spending most of the summer alone while my husband was away, and being six months pregnant, I had not slowed down since early Spring when the morning sickness knocked me on my butt all day long. Maybe these contractions were my body’s way of telling me to stop. Just stop. What was I running around for? What good was coming of this non-stop, have-to-do-all-the-things pace I was trying to keep?
No good. None. Instead, I found myself arguing with my daughter daily, not having time for my husband ever, and laying in a hospital bed at 26 weeks pregnant praying I wasn’t in labor. For someone who loved being pregnant and wanted to enjoy every moment I sure wasn’t acting like I wanted it to last.
My go go GO! attitude was taking it’s toll. On me. On my husband. On my daughter. And now, on my pregnancy and unborn baby. It had to stop.
I had to become OK with days filled with too much TV. Days spent snuggling on the couch or quietly playing Legos. I had to become OK with asking my husband to switch the laundry and bathe our daughter. I could not do it all and trying to was leading me to an early labor and possible delivery. It was not worth it.
I have less than 13 weeks until my due date now. That is only 10 weeks until I will be at the point when my first was born. This pregnancy, the pregnancy I didn’t think I could have, is flying by. Meanwhile, my 3 year old is going to be 4 in a week. Somehow in the flurry of trying to do it all, control it all, make it all happen, my dreams started to come true. The family I always wanted is being created while I stressed about laundry and appointments.
Dreams come first now. I WILL enjoy these last weeks of pregnancy. I will sit and feel my baby hiccup inside my belly, even if it means allowing my 4 year old to watch another episode of Scooby Doo or comb my hair into the craziest "makeover" you have ever seen. I will enjoy watching the transformation from 3 to 4. I will have longer conversations with this amazing tiny person and LISTEN to her instead of pushing back when she tries to get my attention. I will realize that my life isn’t the only one changing and that we all need a little slack and extra hugs. I only get these moments for a very very tiny amount of time. Before I know it, the hospital stays and stressful days will be a distant memory. Why allow it to dictate how I live now?
In the end those details won’t matter. The piled up laundry, missed appointments, and extra TV show won’t even register. What will matter is how happy I was, how much I loved and how much I was loved. It is time to focus on what matters and let the rest go.
Michelle writes from the home she shares with her husband, their 3-year-old daughter and two dogs. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her daughter is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the bumbling sidekick. Read more of her work on her blog at www.JuiceboxConfession.com. All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com.
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