Today is the official due date for our third child. On and around each due date, a calm seems to descend upon our house. I feel a deep desire to be with my family alone, to observe each child, each person in the house, their role and the dynamics among us all. It's all about to change. I want my kids and my husband near me (and my dog to just leave me the hell alone and stop getting under my feet!). I want my house clean and organized and lots of baked goodies around me.
All I can really do is get things ready. Usually, I have all the baby and birth supplies ready about a month in advance. As I get closer to going into labor, I tend to bake sugary goodies and buy cleaning products. In the past three days, I've made oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins and chocolate cake with chocolate icing, all from scratch (okay, so the muffins were from a box, but I get points for pulling most of this off while the kids were awake and orbiting around me). On this morning's Target run, I purchased a double pack of bleach disinfectant wipes and a 4-pack of Magic Erasers. Maybe I'll clean the stair railings and door jams filthy from the constant touch of little hands. Surely, the new baby will notice and be disgusted by these things.
The night before Danny's birth I remember that we could have had family over for dinner but decided against it. I just wanted to be alone with my husband. We had spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and one minor contraction right after dinner. The night before Fiona's birth our son Danny played on the floor, putting a Little People figure through a wide-mouth funnel and quietly chanting "Come out, baby, come out," a phrase he had surely heard me say. Meanwhile, I sat on the sofa and timed a few contractions in a half hour's time.
He knew that his baby sister was on her way. I remember dropping him off at Parents Morning Out on the day I went into labor. He went happily, but then stopped, ran back to my arms, crying "Mommy." He just wanted a hug before I left, unusual for the very independent little guy that he is.
Now that baby sister is over a year old. He is almost three and a half. They play together, they hold hands, they take turns, they chatter away at each other, they wrestle. The past few days here have been glorious. Perfect weather, meals on the back porch, playing in the yard, working in the garden.
Despite the calm, there is always a lingering fear or worry. What if my water breaks in public? (It never has before.) What if labor starts hard and fast while the I'm alone with the kids? What if the midwife doesn't make it in time? But with no real physical signs, only emotional and mental markers, as to the imminence of labor, we just wait quietly, hopefully, eagerly, but not too anxiously.
Experience has taught us that logistics and timing are all things out of our control. Those things always work themselves out. I went into labor with Danny on a Thursday, had him on a Friday and Jim got a three and a half-day weekend from a job that he had just started and had no vacation time to take. I went into labor with Fiona on a day when a sleepover for Danny at Nana and PopPop's had already been planned. Danny came home the next afternoon to meet his new sister.
Everything slows down for me when I'm about to have a baby. I'm more sensitive to my surroundings, my needs, my family's needs. Last night, my daughter cried in her crib shortly after I put her down. I just went up and held her over my shoulder, her long body draped over her new sibling encased in my very large belly. There was no fear that I'd spoil her bedtime routine by going in there. I just did it. We rocked for a few minutes. That's all she needed. That's all I needed - a few minutes to be with my soon-to-be middle child, for us to connect and say, silently to each other, "Yes, I know, everything is about to change, but it will all be okay."