Monday, December 16th, 2013...10:16 pm
There’s something about this time of year that makes me remember. I remember sitting for hours upon hours on my left side, on the couch or on our bed. I remember taking my blood pressure over and over and over again. Counting kicks. Shifting around to get comfortable and then wondering what this all would be like when it was over.
Are you ready? Everyone would ask.
And I was never sure if I was.
Maybe it is reading so many birth stories lately of blogging friends who’ve just become mothers. They seem to remember so clearly what I have only foggy memories of. How many pushes it took. How long the contractions lasted. The music playing. The first words someone said after the baby was born.
I don’t remember those things anymore.
And I didn’t write them down.
I remember details in spurts. Memories triggered by a twinkle in her eye, a word softly spoken, a story to be told.
Six years ago I was on bed rest with early signs of preeclampsia. I sat in our dining room that had become our whole house as we aimed to finish our remodel before our baby was born. We had a kitchen and a bedroom and a dining room filled with a couch and a TV and Ken’s office and all the things we thought we’d need when a little one decided to join us.
We had a small tree in our unfinished living room, pine needles falling on paper-covered floors.
I sat on the couch and listened to hammers and watched the painters scrape fifty years of paint off the boards just outside the window. I got dressed and sat. I read. I watched TV. Friends came to visit.
Are you ready? Everyone asked.
No. I don’t think I ever felt ready.
It was too early. She needed more time. We weren’t done with the house. Her nursery was incomplete. I wasn’t done.
But I wasn’t in charge of my body.
37 weeks and she was here.
And suddenly I was ready.
She was here.
In the weeks leading up to her birthday, I stare at her, study her. I look for the splay of her arms as she’s sleeping, the set of her eyes, the spots on her skin that have been there since the day she was born. I study her year in her eyes, her years in her smile. I look for hints of who she’s always been and who she will one day be.
She sits nuzzled up close to me, asking questions and reading me stories and telling jokes. And I flashback to the days I sat on the same couch in our unfinished house and had no idea what motherhood had in store, had no idea how I would always feel not so ready and totally ready for the challenges of motherhood.
I look at her and I tell her that I can’t believe she’ll be six. I marvel at the power of time to move so quickly and so slowly all at once. I hold her hands in mine as we walk and sit and I try to memorize again their shape and size and feel. I want to remember them. This small. This stained with marker and calloused from monkey bars. I want to remember the sloppy paint she put on her nails all on her own. I want to remember what five felt like.