Today I am finished my 7th month of pregnancy. Yesterday I stepped inside a baby store for the first time this entire pregnancy. Not just any old store that happens to sell stuff for babies along with everything else it carries, but an actual store with the sole focus of selling all things baby-related. Over the years, I can count on two fingers the number of times I have done this. In general, I have avoided these places. It was just too damn difficult to walk around in them and think that perhaps I’d never be buying anything for a child of my own.
Maybe it was the two days of sunshine in a row after such a long, cold winter but yesterday marked the day where I felt I could start to accept that my dream is finally coming true. I looked at cribs. I looked at bassinettes. I looked at strollers and baby monitors. I looked at change tables and I even touched them. I opened drawers. Imagined my child lying in the crib. Pictured the delight of lifting my baby from out of it. My own baby, at last!
Over the years, I have knit gifts for baby showers I have had to attend. I do believe homemade gifts to be the nicest. But the selfish excuse attached to this is the fact that I was loathe to enter these baby-focused stores for the regular type of gifts people purchase. The one or two attempts I made to do so had me leave the lineup, put the items back and get the hell out – it was just too much of a challenge to my courage to watch pregnant women walk around with their spouses, so excited about choosing crib bedding, to have to listen to the chatter waiting to cash out, each of them asking the others when they were due, was it their first child? To have to bite my lip listening to those women who would actually complain about all they’ve had to endure or how bored they are with the pregnancy and wishing it were over by now. During the span of six years between my two miscarriages, there were 16 babies born to either my immediate family members or close friends that lived within a half hour of me. Some on their second or third children by the time I was finally pregnant for the second time only to lose that baby at 8 weeks. Attending the showers was my singular act of sacrifice because of the love I felt towards these sisters and girlfriends themselves, but I resolved not to enter these stores again to save my life. I simply could not bring myself to do it.
Yet here I am, finally. I actually purchased some burping cloths. I bought little words made of twigs to hang in my baby’s room. The words speak as much to me as I hope they will to my child. Dream. Laugh. And Shh (for over the crib). I am allowing myself to believe, to accept this is finally happening. To ME. It has felt such a long journey and I realize I have been holding my breath, not really permitting myself to believe it is coming true even after I’d reached my second trimester for the first time.
My mum has kept asking me when I’m going to start knitting for my own baby. All those little baby clothes I’ve knit over the years for gifts for other people’s Bundles of Joy. I know I’m surprised, too, that I have not begun this for myself and my own child. So I go up to the closet where I've stored tiny balls of yarn for the baby blanket I’d planned six years ago now. I bought them when I purchased other yarn for the same blanket I knit for my twin sister’s second son. I knit his first and planned to knit mine after. I was still pregnant the December he was born, but lost my baby in the weeks that followed his birth so I hid the small bag of yarn and the pattern away. Everything baby-related was tucked safely away from sight in storage.
And now I am 9 weeks away from my due date. I finally dig out the bags and boxes of these items I've kept hidden for years: the baby photograph frame my mother bought me almost 11 years ago when I was first pregnant, but which I’d packed away after I miscarried at 12 weeks. The little rust-coloured knit booties I purchased secretly in the Dingle Peninsula when my ex and I traveled to Ireland in the September of 1999, almost a decade ago, for the dream of a baby again someday. The little suede moccasin-type boots I bought in the village where I live maybe 8 years ago because they were so adorable and I still hoped that I would one day have a child of my own who would don them. The little knit hat I bought at the Danforth Music Hall the night I went to see Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) in October of 2007. His sister, Sarah, had knit it and there were a basket of her items at the front where you could purchase the vinyl albums and CDs. As I unpack each item, I feel finally that I am freeing a hidden burden of sorrows in my closet. In each their tiny way, these items represent the dreaming I have held for years of a child of my own.
They speak to me from my past and I can finally concede that my dreaming wasn’t actually in vain; that all the years I thought I had given up Hope (especially once I miscarried my second pregnancy), I actually hadn’t. A small ember of Hope kept burning somewhere deep inside me that refused to extinguish. It fanned itself into a flame again and I remember the specific moment this happened. I was sitting in a small room in the fertility clinic in Hamilton in June of 2008. The clinic at which I’d been a patient for almost five years, years with my ex-husband and then, on my own. The moment that ember burst into flame was when my doctor advised me not to go through with the In Vitro Fertilization surgery I was planning. He relayed to me that he felt it would be a waste of money as my chances seemed very remote. I replied that I had to do it anyway – for my own self, for my soul, my spirit, even if it was only for some kind of closure. His words could have stamped out that ember once and for all, but they had the opposite effect. By refusing to listen to his advice, I had opened the wrought iron woodstove door on my heart and blew that tiny ember into the flame that has been burning since last August when I initiated this entire journey on my own. Be careful how close you come near me now. That fragile flame of last June has blazed into a virtual bonfire over the last 7 months beneath my right breast, my belly has become its own oven baking this bun, the warmth of which consumes my entire being.
I am two months, perhaps less than that, away from holding my baby in my arms at last. I am 42 years old. I am single. I am going to finally realize my dream of being a mum.
I am over the moon.
I admit now nothing is impossible. Dreams can come true. What seems unimaginable CAN manifest. These thoughts are a little dangerous to me these days because the flames begin to lick at other areas of my life. But I remain afraid to push my luck, really. I am feeling pretty damn blessed right now that at least this one dream of a child is coming true and I feel too afraid to dare to hope that other dreams harbored in my heart might also be fanned into flame. So I am closing the wrought iron door. I’m stepping back. I don’t want to look a gifthorse in the mouth. This is enough of a blessing for me right now. I’m afraid to get burned if I make an attempt for even more Happiness than is now growing in my belly… don’t want to jinx myself.
I will just focus on this new little love of mine coming to my arms and not be greedy for other dreams to also come true. This is a big one and, when I look at other people’s lives, at so many other women I know who’ve dreamed of it themselves but have been denied, I feel more than lucky and that Life has been more than good to me.
I know when I look into his or her eyes, the Joy I will finally know will ease my heart where any other dreaming is concerned…God, I hope so. I cannot ask for more than this blessing right now in my Life…this is a helluva massive dream to manifest already.
My baby, I cannot wait to meet you. To embrace you.
I will hold you so tight and snug to me, all the more closely that it might help me let go of other dreams held within my heart. Someone once wrote me a special note about the struggle of letting go, of the kind of cry that is loneliness mixed with feelings of wanting to be alone. When you are born, I hope and pray your little eyes, your hands, your tiny feet, your giant heart will help pull me through this struggle of letting go and just be thankful for the Joy I am already blessed to feel.
Until then, kneeling amongst these little boots and balls of yarn, books and bonnets, in the sunlight of what promises to be a week long warm spell to properly welcome the Vernal Equinox on March 20 next Friday, the official beginning of Spring, I whisper a little tune that, ironically (or maybe not so ironically) was recorded by The Mamas and the Papas, as I journey through this final stage of becoming a mama myself. A song of night breezes and sunbeams and leaving worries behind…a song of stars shining brightly above. In a sad way, it’s a song of farewell, but in a happier way, it’s more than just that: it’s a song of Love. I sing it to you, my baby, as a kind of first lullaby. I sing it to my heart. I sing it as an ode to soft skin, to wolf eyes, to the aurora borealis and to the magic of cold, starry, wintry nights. To the leaping of years and of hearts. To the courage of risk leaps represent. To love that holds the depth of mermaid-ridden oceans and the majesty, power and strength of horses.
Tears of sorrow, of longing mix with those of joy, slide over my freckles as to My Soul, I sing it…
Stars shining bright above you
night breezes seem to whisper
I love you
Birds singin' in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me.
Say "nighty night" and kiss me
just hold me tight and tell me
you'll miss me.
While I'm alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me.
but I linger on dear
still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger til dawn dear
Just saying this:
Sweet dreams til sun beams find you
sweet dreams that leave your worries behind you.
But in your dreams
whatever they be,
dream a little dream of me
Maternity Photography: Mattitude Photography
Music: Dream a Little Dream of Me, Ukelele Cover of The Mamas & the Papas