Monday, November 16th, 2009 • No Comments on Anticipation
I’m sitting in Starbucks, watching the manager put up the holiday decorations. This is a week of strange anticipatory excitement and nervousness for me. Thanksgiving—probably my favorite holiday because it means a 10 day break to play while Sheri visits—is next week. Yet, I’ve hardly been thinking about Thanksgiving at all as I worked to get ahead on the baby (and holiday) preparations.
I always go into nesting mode around this time of year, breaking out the flannel sheets and pajamas and the recipes cut from magazines 10, 15, nearly 20 years ago. Being nine months pregnant at this time of the year has magnified that nesting instinct to the point that has me almost manic—at least on the inside. On the outside, I’m moving almost as slow as the dark corn syrup that I use to make Jay’s favorite pecan pie. Which I won’t be making this year because he will be in Dubai for Thanksgiving. Unless baby comes early, of course.
I have a few things left to get before baby arrives—a new birthing ball, because I can’t find the pump to the one I have now and I desperately need to use it to help get this baby in position. A diaper genie, because apparently it’s the thing to have. A good baby-wearing wrap (I want a Moby wrap). Other things, that I probably don’t know I need but will find out (or be told) I need in the next couple of weeks.
I have a ton of cleaning to do before Sheri gets here and about a quarter of the energy required to do it. But it will get done, because once the cleaning is done the Christmas tree can go up and the train can go under it and the presents that are piled in the guest room (“Sheri’s room”) can go under the tree with train. I need to get a Christmas stocking for baby—or maybe three new ones for our new family (even though it doesn’t look hopeful that Jay will even be here for Christmas). I need candy canes for the Christmas tree and pillar candles for the candelabra in front of the fireplace. I need Christmas candy (that I can’t eat right now) to share and stuff into stockings. I need some cold weather so it feels like Christmas!
Of course, before that I need the Thanksgiving food (which will be a small affair this year, with just Sheri and me—unless someone needs an invite!) that kicks off the season. I’m already craving the salt-brined turkey I will make next week (unless baby makes an early appearance, in which case Thanksgiving will be held as soon as I feel like it) and the starchy, high-carb foods that will blow my blood sugar but will be well worth the one-day indulgence. (Seriously, just one day—I’ll be good, I swear!) It doesn’t seem likely there will be a Thanksgiving brunch this year—at least not at the Jefferson Hotel. It’s a bit of a drive and most of the food isn’t gestational diabetes-friendly, sadly. So that yearly tradition will be on hiatus until next year.
There are appointments to be kept and scheduled—doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds and meetings with the doula and a much needed massage (or two) and a last minute hair appointment to make me feel pretty even though I’m big as a house. There are the fun things to do with Sheri close to home in the (hopefully) two weeks before baby arrives to help me stay active and let gravity do its work. There are names to be chosen for the “short list” and a hospital bag still to pack. There are pets to snuggle while I have the energy to devote to them. I’m especially worried about Henry (the almost 14 year old dog who has gone almost completely deaf), who is used to being top dog and Wilbur (the almost 20 year old cat), who is blind and frail and never even ventures downstairs anymore.
There are bills to pay and holiday cards (and thank you cards) to write and there will be a birth announcement to stuff into envelopes soon. There is a book review I must write this week to wrap up my reviewing commitments for the year and author contracts to file and author bios to submit to the publisher. There are two stories that need to be written while I still have the brain cells to write. There is book promotion for Fairy Tale Lust to start planning (hopefully tomorrow) and future books to contemplate.
There is one friend’s new baby arriving in a couple of days to celebrate (both baby gift and mom’s and baby’s Christmas gift are already wrapped and ready to go) and another friend’s baby coming a few weeks after mine (and the congratulatory card is waiting with the holiday cards). There are still a pile of childbirth books by my bedside—some read so long ago I need to re-read them, some only half-read or skimmed. The newborn and breastfeeding books haven’t even been opened yet. There are movies to record for those weeks when I can’t find the energy to read a book and television shows to catch up on and delete to make room for the movies. There are friends to have lunch, coffee, dinner with while I’m child-free.
The freezer is nearly filled with food, but there is still food shopping to do to stock up on the staples for a month or two. I am preparing as if for a hurricane—or a disaster—but I know that I’ll be too tired to haul myself and baby to the grocery store to buy cat litter or toilet paper, especially as the cold days set in. There is still room in the pantry for an extra box of dog food and a few more canned goods, maybe some of those treats that I haven’t been able to indulge in but will be able to have post-baby.
Then there is the all-important detail of getting Jay home. We won’t know how that’s going to happen for at least another week or two, but then the wheels will be in motion. There will be that stretch of time while he’s here—probably only 10 days—which seems like nothing, really—to enjoy and savor as best we can in our sleep deprivation. There will be pictures to take and videos to make, all to be uploaded and shared whenever there is time. There will be sleep—blessed sleep!—to enjoy whenever I can. Right now, the afternoon naps are like heaven and I revel in them like a cat in a sunspot.
It hit me last night that this is the last week I will ever be alone. I know people who can’t stand to be alone; people who would rather spend time with people they hardly know or don’t even really like rather than be alone with their thoughts. But I am one of those people who likes to be alone. I crave my alone time and when I don’t get it, I feel my sanity (and temper) slipping. The Navy has facilitated more alone time than I’d ever care to have, but I’ve made the most of it. We’ve been through many separations over 19 years, ranging from a few days to eight months (this one is the longest), and I usually don’t mind the solitude. Even when Jay is home and on shore duty, I get my alone time during his scuba diving trips and weekends. After Sheri arrives next week, I can’t even imagine the next time I will be truly alone. It scares me because my most creative times seem to be when I’m by myself for a stretch. I can’t quite imagine a life where I’m never alone. I know there will come a time when I can go away for a few days or Jay will go off with baby for whatever father/son things they might do, but those times are far in the future. What will I do? Make the best of it, I suppose. Find a new rhythm and a new way to create, even if it’s only a few hours alone rather than days or weeks. I hope to go away on at least one or two short trips next year after Jay gets home—I think it will be good for all of us—but that’s still at least 8 months away. Incomprehensible to this loner.
Along with the holidays comes the biggest life change I’ve ever experienced. My anticipation grows as my stomach expands, with so much to do and so much coming up. I feel this way every year in the week before Thanksgiving, but now it all seems bigger, brighter, more overwhelming. Mostly in a good way. Mostly.