Baby,  Essay,  Life Story,  Pregnancy

On not waiting

hallway

I have always been one to strive forward, ready for the next thing and the next level, breezily leaving the past behind the bend and looking to the future. The woman we’ve hired as my doula suggested I try to cherish these last weeks with only Lux by my side; to focus on the ending of something instead of the impending beginning. The three of us were sitting next to each other with our feet in the murky duck pond of the Public Garden. It was 90 degrees, and Lux was periodically jumping up to gather sticks and then tossing them into the water, joyfully shouting “stick!” with each throw. She was almost completely soaked with pond water and she was loving it. Lorenza said words like “cherish” “dwell” and “relish.” I was sweaty and thinking about how many diseases Lux might be contracting from the water which contained at least three different kinds of bird poop.

But later, when the heatwave finally broke and as the rainy days have come, I have engaged this intention. We stroll through June’s afternoons, rainy or not. We stop to sit on stoops along our street. We pet whatever dogs have the time (according to their owners) to stop and talk to us. We wander on for ‘treats’ (one of Lux’s first firm words), trying chocolate croissants across the city, lemonade from a street vendor, a new box of cereal at the grocery. We climb into bed with a pile of books and share the pillows. (Somehow our hand sign for share turned out like most people’s ‘hang loose’ so I find myself reminding Lux to both share and just relax, dude). We sit in the garden behind our building and meow, hoping the nameless neighbor cat will hear us and climb over the wall, as he does every now and then. “I wait,” she says when I ask if we should give up and head inside. “I play,” she says when I suggest it’s time for lunch instead. We buy strawberries and melons and eat the whole thing in one sitting. We finish our dinner so we can have popsicles. We discuss when Dad will be home, and how he took the train to work, and how he’s probably going to be all wet because it’s raining.

hallway_down

It’s a season of receiving advice, most of it terrible, some of it is gold. My midwife Connie finally told me to quit it with trying to talk to Lux about the baby.”You’re just stressing her out.”

What a relief. I thought back over the times I’d attempted the conversation, all of them met with confusion, anxiety, or denial. The future is a frustrating concept to someone Lux’s age. It better be five minutes away, or don’t bring it up.

And it’s a little hilarious to imagine what I thought all that prep work might ideally add up to: was a screaming infant going to arrive in our apartment and Lux was going to walk up and say “soo good to see you! at last! just what I’ve been waiting for, someone to completely screw with my life and schedule!”

Connie also suggested I encourage Lux’s interest in talking about the baby growing in her belly. A parallel imagination game that, I’m really sorry to say, I’ve so far been correcting. “No, I have a baby, you don’t have a baby,” I’ve actually said.  In hindsight, I feel like a real jerk. Now, we’ve started talking about the baby in bunny‘s belly. It was Lux’s idea, but to me this feels like a very wise and safe proposal: a tiny fluffy baby from bunny could hardly do us any harm, right?

So here we are, we’re not waiting. We’re relishing. One of us might be a little tired, a little sore in the back, and little overstretched, but we’re relishing all the same.

17 Comments

  • bridget

    You and your midwife named Lorenza sitting by the pond discussing birth and such. What a novel idea. I’ve spent some time with Lux, and she’s pretty remarkable in that she’s chill, easy-going, and overall a sweet one. (Am I right? Or is she like, “Jokes on you!” when she gets home from playdates and her terror-reign begins?) I think it’ll go well even when she realizes that it’s not a baby bunny.

    • Rachael Ringenberg

      It’s the DOULA whose name is Lorenza Bridge, geez. You’re right though–she’s a pretty sweet girl. I am imagining (counting on) some antagonism and suspicion up front, and then she will find herself wooed and all maternal and I’ll walk in on her attempting to swaddle/strangle the baby so she can carry her around.

  • Julie

    I suffer from that always striving forward thing, too – so much “on the next” that I have to work really hard to value the present (and even attempt to get in touch with some nostalgia for things in the past!). So happy to hear you’re doing such a nice job relishing!

  • Christy Milford

    Beautiful! I read this a few days ago, and now I’ve just come back and read it again. I can’t wait to experience the relationship you have with Lux. Hope you’re feeling all right as you near the birth 🙂

    • Rachael Ringenberg

      Thank you! I just visited you and Ada Mae are both names we love! I don’t know if either of them will actually come into our life, but I really love that combo. I always think of the Nabokov novel “Ada or Adore.”

      • Christy Milford

        Oh,you must have visited the blog I commented on most recently, Writing Chapter Three. That’s someone else, and she’s a great blog to follow 🙂 My blog is Sweet and Savoring, but I do appreciate the ‘visit’ and I also love the name Ada Mae 🙂
        I don’t have children yet (hopefully we’re no more than three years away…), but I love blogs like yours and Writing Chapter Three to give me a sense of what it’ll be like!

  • Erin

    This is such great writing.

    On a slightly related note, I had a dream that I met your youngest brother named Pat. Once I woke, I thought through the line and found it oddly comforting that I couldn’t find Pat in my conscious memory. Not that Pat wouldn’t have been welcomed; I think he probably would have been great.

  • Jenna Sietsema

    Though it has now been over a week since I read this post, I wanted you to know how much it impacted me. I don’t have another little one to be enjoying right now as I await this new babe next month…but I do have plenty of other things to enjoy that I find myself so easily passing over for the excitement and anticipation of the things to come.

    Things to come:
    – the completion of Ben and my new home (and the peace that will come when the construction is over!)
    – the arrival of our son (which almost seems like a dream at this point)
    – the return of my pre-pregnancy body (maybe someday…)

    Things to enjoy now:
    – the daily progress of Ben and my new home (and the satisfaction that comes with each newly completed project)
    – the anticipation and possibilities of our coming son (at this point, anything is possible)
    – the intimacy of feeling him move inside of me (the feeling that he and I are sharing a secret when he kicks and I’m in the middle of a crowded room…)
    – the femininity and grace of my pregnancy body (though I may not feel particularly graceful, this body seems to bring a smile to others’ faces and speaks boldly of God’s design…I’ve never felt so much like a woman)

    Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the present even as I long for the future.

    • Rachael Ringenberg

      Beautifully said!! This stage of pregnancy is fascinating in that it’s really hard to feel beautiful, but to others you are nearly breathtaking. And the presence of another being that comes with you—it’s immediately palpable to everyone in the room. The strangest thing for me in the weeks post-birth was thinking, “this baby used to be with me all the time…and never cried!” So yes, there is so much for you to relish and enjoy right now. I’m so glad you can do that! it’s tough.

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