You will be so tired, they say. Sleepless nights for months, they reminisce.
You will be tired like you’ve never been tired before, they warn.
I listen, I nod, I smile. They mean well, they want to share their experiences, relive those precious moments of their pregnancies with me as I experience mine. It’s a sweet gesture and it’s one part of pregnancy I am enjoying more than I thought I would. I have always watched that bonding occur between mothers as an outsider, and now I enjoy being part of the celebration in a whole new way.
But in the back of my mind I can’t help but think of other sleepless nights. Of days I fell asleep at my desk at work from sheer exhaustion. Of lying in bed with my hand on my husband’s chest all night so I could be sure he was still breathing. Of sleeping on the floor next to him when he could no longer get up the stairs. Of sleeping whenever he slept, waking to his murmurs, rubbing his back and holding him as he fell back asleep.
It’s a strange parallel, the last few months of life and the first few.
The summer of 2011 comes to me in flashbacks, vivid and strong, sometimes attacking at inconvenient times. It’s been happening a lot these past few months, as I anticipate the birth of my child. I suppose I am comparing this life changing event to the other most significant event in my life, the one that changed everything forever, as I know my son’s arrival will.
During the darkest time I wrote this in our Caring Bridge journal:
You know, I’m almost 32 years old. I spend my days taking care of someone I love so much it hurts. I feed him watermelon and bits of popsicle. I tell him the nutrition shake is chocolate milk so he’ll take a few sips. I wake up every few hours each night to rub his back and soothe him back to sleep. I’m trying to rest whenever he does, because I’m just so tired. I have a hard time leaving him with anyone because I just don’t think they will take care of him the way I would. I always thought I would be doing all these things as I cared for our child, not for my husband.
I will be caring for our child in a similar way, but I have to keep telling myself it will just be similar. Not the same. This is the beginning of a life. I have Jeff beside me and we will watch him grow together. God has our boy in His hand, and knows the days He has planned for him. This experience will change and evolve as he grows and I have to remind myself that this time it’s not the end of something beautiful, it’s just the beginning.
Ask me in a few months if I feel this way still…but right now, I can’t wait for that exhaustion. It was so worth it to be present for every moment while Jason was dying, and it will be worth it again to be there for my son as he grows. I can’t wait for the lessons I will learn from him. If death taught me so much about life, imagine what I have to learn from being a mother?
For now, I will smile when they say it. You will be so tired. Yes, I will. I will be so tired, and I will be so grateful. I will listen to him breathe, I will soothe him back to sleep in the middle of the night. I will rest whenever he does, and I will have a hard time leaving him because no one will ever care for him like I will. This time though, Jeff and I will do these things together. We will do this for the child we will cherish, the child we are so thankful for. This time it will not be the end of a beautiful, well lived life, but just the beginning.