I wake to the familiar urge to pee. It's dark, early morning I'm guessing, and this is probably the second or third time I've had to go tonight. My hips ache, exhausted by the weight of my seven-months pregnant body. I close my eyes and pray for supernatural intervention on my very full bladder. Nothing. Finally, I succumb to the three-point maneuver (and I do mean maneuver) it takes to get out of bed without straining my now non-existent abs.
On the opposite end of the bed, which might as well be the opposite end of the world, my husband sleeps peaceful and oblivious. I sigh. I can't help but feel he should have to get up too, even if he doesn't have to pee. You know, just for moral support. This terribly irrational pity party lasts only moments before I hoist myself up and walk seven steps to the bathroom, which may as well be a half-mile trek carrying a bowling ball as far as I'm concerned. I'm in boot camp, I know. This is God's way of preparing me for the inevitable. The closer I get to my due date, the more uncomfortable it becomes to sleep soundly, sit for long stretches or remember what happened yesterday. It's all simulation for the sleepless nights and mindless multi-tasking that come along with caring for a newborn. I know, I know, but the wee hours can be lonely.
Instinctively, the baby moves, feeling me drown in despair perhaps. Any other time his sweet kicks would be a welcome comfort, but tonight they are not adorable hiccups or soft rolls. They are low, hard kicks that take my breath as if to say, "Hey ma, snap out of it and get over yourself."
* * *
There is this mystery happening inside that I could never understand. Our family is literally growing. Right now. Our party of three is closer to becoming a party of four every single day. I find my head space more and more consumed with questions about how all of this is supposed to work.
As you might expect, I don't worry about the small stuff that seemed so mysterious before - labor & delivery, nursing, sleep schedules. In fact when people ask what I need for the baby, I struggle to come up with anything worth saying. Truth is, if the baby were born healthy today or tomorrow, we'd survive just fine I'm sure.
It's the mechanics of it all that terrify me. The thought that I could be in the grocery store pushing a cart with a newborn and a two-year-old when suddenly my son has to pee. Like, how does that even work? Or the thought of not one but two bath-time routines. Or a toddler meltdown at precisely the exact moment that the baby needs to nurse.
I am keenly aware that I am the only one worrying about these things. People assume, expect even, that since I have a kid already, I pretty much know what to do. There is no celebration this time around. No reading pre-baby books or parenting classes or hospital tours. All the rites of passage have been completed and they seem trivial now. There is only quiet longing and waiting and sometimes anxiety. And I'll admit - sometimes it's a bit lonely.
* * *
My toddler has been more clingy than usual lately. To understand the shift, you'd have to know he is a daddy's boy to the core. He has absolutely no problem slipping his hand out of mine in exchange for his dad's, or begging for his dad to hold him while he's in my arms. They use you and leave you these kids, I promise.
But as my pregnancy goes on, it is becoming more and more apparent that this kid wants his mommy. Out of the blue, he's reverted back to crying when I drop him off at school in the morning. He raises his arms over my big belly and gives me puppy dog eyes while he pleads to be held for no reason at all. He snuggles next to me in bed planting kiss after kiss on my face. And his new thing is wanting to be cradled like an infant around my massive belly the moment he wakes up in the morning or after a nap. Putting him down is like trying to pry a jellyfish off your face. You're probably better off just waiting it out.
The old wives' tales say kids can sense when change is coming. They say they start clinging because they know something is up, or that they have baby instinct - kind of like a sixth sense. Meanwhile I can't help but wonder if it's God's way of combatting the loneliness. What if my son's rapid-fire kisses are reminders that I'm still loved even though I feel huge and unsexy in my stretched out yoga pants? What if the endless cuddles are affirmation that things will be OK even though our family is about to transition to a season of the unknown? What if his surge in affection has nothing to do with the fact that he's getting a baby brother, and everything to do with the fact that his mother is changing in ways she can't describe?
* * *
The lights are low. All across the room, bodies sway to the rhythm of guitar and drums and keyboard. Hands are raised. Eyes are closed (mine too). We are in church, singing in unison:
"I see your face in every sunrise. The colors of the morning are inside of your eyes. The world awakens in the light of the day. I look up to the sky and say, 'You're beautiful.'"
It's from a Phil Wickham original, one of my favorites we haven't sung in a while. I pause long enough to reflect on the beauty of an unseen God in all that I can see: nature, life, art, emotion.
Without warning, Lincoln's face flashes on the screen of my brain. I see the gap in his teeth and the dimple in his left cheek as he smiles up at me even though at this very moment he's in nursery. I see him nursing as an infant, and the moment he took his first steps, and his signature grin. I see the light in his eyes when he looks at me tenderly. The tears come hot on my cheeks, followed by unmistakable joy. Sunshine floods the room of my heart where the lonely ache lives. I smile to myself as I practically sprint from the sanctuary to save what's left of my foundation, but even if it runs, I could care less. I am remembering now. The beauty and mystery and the joy of it all. The face of a loving God in the reflection of His creation.
And even though the estrogen rages, and fatigue threatens, and the ache still hangs low in the wee morning hours, this stubborn hope, this longing for a world I've never known and a God I've never seen, this joy ... I know for sure is heaven's cure for the lonely.