I packed the hospital bag the other day. Our baby isn’t due for at least a month, but it gave me a constructive focus for my nervous energy. I have a lot of sciatic pain at the minute, which makes sleeping difficult, so I usually lay awake half the night. Something about three in the morning makes one’s thoughts repetitive, have you ever noticed that? It’s like the brain is too tired to fuel new journeys for the train of thought, so the train runs on a circular track. After a week of nights of the train stuck on the “what would I do if I was in labor right now” track I finally packed the bag. I haven’t packed a hospital bag of this sort since 2008. In England I was always home within a few hours and could probably have brought just the carseat and a camera. Packing was surprisingly easy after doing it in my head 74 times.
I went into Hugh and his baby brother’s room and opened the top drawer to find two little onesies and a sleeper or two to bring for baby. I picked up the tiniest, softest blue pajamas you’ve ever seen and folded them in a little micro-stack for the bag, lining up two tiny sleeves and two tiny legs and bending the bitty waist. And without warning I was struck with the incredible miracle that is a baby. Holding that little sleeper in my hand and feeling the kicks and pokes of my son deep inside me, it was suddenly astounding to me that God crafts each unique child and brings them into the world in the way he does. Sometimes we can take it so for granted, this beautiful, continual creation of life. After all, it’s a miracle that happens 375,000 times per day.
And I can get so caught up in the pain and fatigue of pregnancy that sometimes I lower my gaze to that and forget the tremendous, indescribable privilege of carrying a child.
I made a scene at the 22 week ultrasound. I had just come through 15 grueling weeks of intense nausea and then a month of travel and exhaustion. It was a lowered-gaze kind of of day. Then the technician surprised me by suddenly putting a picture of my son’s face on the screen on the wall. I had never had this kind of ultrasound before, the 4D kind. They didn’t do this for my first in Boston; they don’t do these in England. I don’t know if I’d ever even seen one. I didn’t know what was coming. And suddenly, there he was. Curled up, his little face resting on one tiny hand. I cried. That’s no blob of tissue. That’s my baby.
I remember a conversation I had with my husband during the worst of the nausea last spring. He said something about how he wished it wasn’t so hard for me. “I would trade places with you in a second!” I said. And then instantly wanted to snatch back those words. “No, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t!” I wished so much I hadn’t said it, hadn’t implied even for a second that his is the more blessed place. Because it isn’t true. No one ever gets to experience the miracle like we mothers do. It is a precious gift, a soul-rocking experience granted by God alone. I watch my body swell to nearly 200 pounds (you read that right), I struggle to cope with the nausea and fatigue and pain–and every bit of it is worth that astonishing moment when my baby appears and makes his first sound.