This morning I woke up at 6am and the first thought that popped into my head was:
4 more sleeps!
In just four more sleeps, Mr. Level-Headed and I will be heading to the hospital so the doctors can remove Thing 4 from his or her cozy, uterine habitat. As excited as I am to finally be able to hold Thing 4 in my arms and to smother his or her little body in kisses, I feel bad for my little munchkin. For the past nine months, Thing 4 has been confined within the warmth of my body. Although he or she can hear sound (and I know this is true because the monkey goes foolish whenever he or she hears Avery's voice), it is muffled. There is no light to bother Thing 4's newly developed eyes, and I imagine him or her being soothed by the rhythmic sound of my heart beating and the rocking motion of me tending to all the tasks that greet me each day. Like the nurse said the other day at my final obstetrical visit, as she was listening to Thing 4's heartbeat:
Awww . . . baby still sounds pretty cozy in there.
Thing 4 is cozy in there. He or she seems very content to spend his or her days kicking and bouncing up a storm within the safety of my body, and I am very happy to have him or her there. Thing 4 has become my constant, little companion, and I love his or her company. But in just four more sleeps that is all going to change, and Thing 4 has no idea what is about to happen. He or she will be going about his or her daily routine of stretching, rolling and kicking, when all of a sudden his or her world will be cut open, and Thing 4 will be bombarded by the cold air and the harsh, bright lights of the operating room. Then, for the first time in his or her little life, Thing 4 will be touched. Not a soothing, gentle ,motherly touch, but touched by a firm hand covered in plastic and then pulled, and not very gently either. I am always shocked by the force with which the doctors must use to remove a baby from the womb. It must be terrifying! My poor Thing 4. But, in the end, it is for the best. We will be together, and I can spend the next few days comforting and consoling my little munchkin from his or her traumatic introduction to this crazy world of ours. I am confident, though, that as unpleasant and harsh as Thing 4's first exposure to life will be, he or she will quickly learn to appreciate just how wonderful this world can also be when you are surrounded by a family who loves you and who are eager to care for you, to teach you and to entertain you. I suspect this little one is going to have a pretty, spectacular life!
With only four more sleeps until the big day, I woke up this morning ready to pack our hospital bag. I eagerly pulled out some baby jammies that have been neatly stored away in my dresser drawer along with some baby wipes and some travel-sized hygiene products that my darling friend, Vanessa, gave to me on Sunday. Oh, and because Vanessa knows me so well, she also included lots of treats and a can of Coke in my "hospital-stay pack". She is so thoughtful! As soon as everything was neatly stored in my luggage and a list of the few things I still need to collect was placed on top, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought:
Now I am ready to tackle my day.
Just then Avery came bounding in and started playing with the diaper bag my mother-in-law sent home with Mr. Level-Headed last night for me. It had been hanging on the corner of the baby's crib.
Mom, you should put all the baby's stuff in the diaper bag.
Yes, I should, but not right now.
Well . . .
Do it, mom.
I gave in. I removed some baby items from my luggage and placed them in the diaper bag. Avery, after putting the bag on his shoulder and asking me a gazillion questions about what to expect next week, skipped cheerfully out of the room, ready to share with his brother all the exciting news he had just learned, including the fact that no, he can not hold Thing 4 up by the arms and teach him how to walk just yet . . . eeek!
Once he left, I picked up the diaper bag and stared at the tags dangling from the handles. Then I looked at the wipes and diaper cream still in their original packaging that I had placed in one of the many pockets of the diaper bag. Looking at the tags and the plastic wrap, I felt the urge to remove them, but then this terrible thought popped into my head:
Leave them on. You don't know what will happen. This way you can return them or give them to Emily or Kate when they have their babies.
At that moment, the dam broke, and the walls I have been meticulously building up around my mind and my heart crumbled. Tears streamed down my face and I began to sob. It was then I realized just how scared I still am that something is going to happen to my baby, but unlike my other two pregnancies which ended so soon and abruptly, I am deeply connected to this sweet, little person we all lovingly refer to as Thing 4, and I fear that if the unthinkable happens, I just may not have the strength to recover. In all honesty, I don't want to live in a world that doesn't have a thing 4 in it. Of course, I will, though. Life goes on, and as I have proved time and time again over the past couple of years, I will carry on, I will become stronger, and I will grow a deeper appreciation for the life I have been blessed with, but I don't want this to be one of my life lessons. So, as soon as all these fears of mine came rushing to the surface and blasted my protective wall to bits, I fell to my knees and cried to God. I spoke to Him of my fears and of my desires. I begged for his mercy and his grace, and I pleaded with Him to allow my family to have this miracle. Then, like so many times before, a pervading feeling of peace and assurance overcame me. I stopped crying, and I thanked God for always being there for me. I thanked Him for all those times he has comforted me when I have been overcome by fear or despair, and I prayed that He would continue to be there for me no matter happens.
Life does not always play out the way we want. Like Thing 4, we can spend many days, weeks, months, and years enjoying all the comforts of life, and then, unexpectedly, one day our world is turned upside down and can quickly become challenging, heart-wrenching, and even scary. One thing I have learned, though, is that no matter how bleak or difficult a situation may be for a time, it is only for a time. Life will go on. You will heal, you will experience joy once again, and in the end, all will be well. Thing 4 is about to experience this truth for the first time, and in spite of how scary his or her first exposure to the world may be, he or she has no idea about all the wonderful things that are in store for him or her here. Thing 4 also does not realize that he or she is not alone, and that within moments of his or her arrival, he or she will be wrapped lovingly into my arms and will be forever cared for and loved by so many people. At no point will Thing 4 be alone in his or her journey, and thankfully, neither are we. No matter what comes our way, we always have a loving, Heavenly Father to turn to, to guide us, and to comfort us. With this knowledge, as scared as I was and as heavy as my heart was for a moment, I was able to get up off of my knees this morning. I was able to wipe the tears from eyes, and I was finally able to take the scissors to cut off all the tags from my new diaper bag.
No matter what happens tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that, I know I am never alone and that, in the end, all will be well.