It is rare that life affords the foresight to anticipate and prepare for a moment that will forever change your life. More often than not, those big moments sneak up on us and are usually reactionary in nature. However, one wonderful exception is pregnancy.
Pregnancy offers the gift of time to absorb every change to your mind, body, and soul in preparation for parenting. Perhaps because of this gradual evolution, my pregnancies and births took on a slow-motion quality. Even now, almost 25 years later, I can close my eyes and recall the sights, sounds and all the feels of my three pregnancies and births. Although I am sure I have blocked out some of the feels or I never would’ve progressed past one child.
Even when I can’t remember why I walked into a room or my grocery list, I can tell you what time I checked into the hospital for each delivery, the days’ weather conditions and how long I labored. Even snippets of conversation with doctors and staff will pop into my head. This usually happens on one of the kids’ birthdays and the annual retelling of the day they entered the world. These moments are a part of my story but more importantly, my children’s life stories.
While pregnant, I never could have anticipated how often my kids would ask me to narrate the timeline of their arrival. It is a tale they never tire of as it is the beginning of all they know and trust in the world. It is reassuring, I think, for my kids to envision how the structure of our family came to be. Realizing that had the events been any different, the shape of us would not be the same as well.
Like Legos with a million options for assembly, a shift of a day here or a different choice of name there would mean the way our family fits together would be altered. The retelling brings my kids comfort in a sometimes not so comforting world.
Another surprising aspect of parenting is how often my children want to look at their baby pictures, particularly those first moments in the delivery room. I have albums of these pictures and many more and love nothing more than seeing them scattered about the basement or family room after a trip down memory lane. I suggest that if you print nothing else from your phone or the cloud, the newborn photos make the cut. I am sure printing pictures solidifies my status as a boomer, but your kids will be too engrossed in flipping through albums to judge you.
You don’t have to go all crazy and make a baby book with captions or stickers, even just the pictures will do. My reasoning for enjoying baby photos differs from my boys in that I can’t believe I was charged with caring for something so little and somehow it thrived under my care.
That is the real miracle of pregnancy. The fact that women are given three trimesters to absorb the next chapter and reflect on the hardest job in the world. And do it anyway.
If I could give one piece of advice to my swollen, frightened, pregnant self it would be “take it all in because one day you will be the historian and the keeper of the stories that span generations. The seeds of your nuclear family are growing right now.”
Aren't you the lucky one with the privilege of a lifetime, ringside seat?
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