Memories I do not want to forget.

Realizing we had two separate bathrooms in our new home, our first home, the one we bought together. We each shouted from the bathrooms. It was silly but it was our home.

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Sitting at the table, the kitchen nook behind you, your red sweater and gentle face backlit by the setting sun. What we ate, I don’t know, though I do know it’s documented in a photograph somewhere. Music played, we danced in our seats. You bopped your head and snapped your fingers and swayed this way and that way. The excitement of our first dinner in our new home, our first home, the one we bought together. Nothing else mattered in this moment. 

Memories I do not want to forget.

Waking up in Florence, Italy. It was September of 2017. They had already left the Airbnb we were renting (they: my husband and our two friends). That morning I told my husband to go, I’d be fine staying behind. It was our last day in Florence and though I could barely get out of bed–morning sickness was strong–I wanted at least one set of our eyes to see the city. I could relive the day through his photographs, it was enough for me. After much persuasion, he left with our two friends.

I slept all morning. I slept into the afternoon. Finally, I stepped out the front door, lush greens everywhere, wildflowers and rolling country hills. The air was warm against my seafoam green sweater. You could hear the birds singing, the air dancing, the wind blowing ever so softly. I sat on the chair on the hill and breathed. The stillness felt more alive than the city.

Was it as beautiful as I remember? Or does my memory make it more?

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It was the day before and I was still wearing my seafoam green sweater, the one I purchased in Annecy, France. I’m not sure why I forgot to pack a sweater. It was warm, in fact, I think I had my sweater tied around my waist. Giardino Di Boboli. We wandered what felt like a maze. The Fountain of Neptune and many others. The trees blocked any sounds coming from the city. No cars, just the breeze, your hand in my hand, a pack of saltines in my purse to keep nausea down. Still, we were happy. I felt free. Our own secret garden, just you and me. The sun was hot and beat against our skin and so we sat for awhile in the grass, on the stairs, on a bench, too. We watched tourists roam, tourists ourselves. It was us and the 7-week old baby inside of me. She’s due in 3 weeks.

Writing, become a mother and uncertainty.

My husband has been asking me why I haven't written more during my pregnancy. Writing is practically a part of my DNA–I have stacks and stacks of journals starting from when I was only 5 or 6 years old–and yet I've hardly written about this experience. I think for two reasons.

The first is that I haven't wanted to write my own agenda for my daughter. I haven't wanted to put into the world any preconceived ideas of who I want her to be (other than to live a healthy, happy and long life). It's taken me so long to find myself, to be comfortable in my own skin and simply be okay with who I am and who I am not that I think I have feared writing about my daughter and putting certain expectations on her that simply are irrelevant. I want her to be *her*. That's my biggest prayer for her, perhaps: is to simply be herself. I want her to not only be okay with herself but to love herself and to always stand up for herself. I want her to always know that she is important and worth it, purely because she exists and is who she is. I want her to be kind, to work hard and to be independent. But again, I just want her to be her and be comfortable in who she is.

I think the second reason I haven't written much about my pregnancy is that my pregnancy hasn't been easy and I have a lot of guilt surrounding this. Since it hasn't been easy, I haven't entirely enjoyed being pregnant, and I think this is where a lot of the guilt comes in. It's not that I'm not grateful. I don't resent my daughter and I am so happy that she exists. It's such a blessing that we got pregnant and that I've had a healthy pregnancy. I am so incredibly grateful to God for all of this and I'm humbled by the experience. But it has been hard for me. I haven't written much because I haven't wanted to write about the negative and difficult aspects of this pregnancy. I think also, this pregnancy has been so hard that I haven't even felt enough like myself to even want to write. Who wants to write when you're nauseous and throwing up and hormonal and everything else that comes with pregnancy? I've simply wanted to rest and some days, just endure. 

The second trimester "high" didn't come for me until my third trimester. I'm okay with that, simply in that I'm finally here now (yeah!).  I feel "normal" again... I feel like a functioning human being who can think straight and isn't just trying to get through the day. I enjoy my days again, I feel good, I feel inspired and excited again. I feel so much more comfortable with my third trimester body than my first trimester body. I feel pregnant AF, but I feel like me again (who is also always looking for the nearest restroom because baby has great aim when kicking my bladder).

I question everything now. Why am I wearing makeup? What message will this send to my daughter? So I've stopped wearing makeup most days. I question how much time I should be spending on my phone. I don't want my daughter to ever think of her mother as someone who was always on her phone and so I try and not pick up my phone as much as I can. I read more books, do more activities even if it's simply something like cleaning. I want her to see me doing stuff and being present in the world. I want her to see a mother who works and has dreams (both inside of the house and most definitely outside of the house). I question where I'll feel comfortable sending her to school in a world filled with so much violence. I question how I'll teach her about Jesus when I, myself, have so many questions about God and issues with religion in general and church. I question her entire teenage life and how I will survive as a mother if my daughter is anything like my teenage self was. I suppose this is what parenthood will be like: figuring it out as you go. Not having all of the answers and admitting that to my child.

Mostly, right now, I am happy. And I hope to be the best mother I can possibly be to this magical, super human. 

We bought you a house.

We bought a house for you.

Your room is next to ours.

The gardens are bigger than both of our rooms put together. 

I don't know much of how to raise you, 
but I'll raise you by my side.

We can sit in the garden while the sun beats down.

You will sleep at first and I'll fumble my way through planting, pruning and picking. I'll try the vegetables first and then I'll puree them for you.

Eventually, you'll pick the vegetables, too.

There is a chicken coop. 
We're probably crazy to buy a house, have a baby, pick up gardening, raise chickens, raise you, all at once.

But on the days that we're all much too tired, 
we can sit on the patio and rest.

The patio gets sunshine all day long. It faces south and so we'll see both sunrise and sunset.

Once it's warm enough I'll buy you a kiddie pool and we can sit together in the water to stay cool. 

I imagine you'll love warmth as much as I do. I imagine you'll crave the sun and find the sunny corners of the house, just like I do.

There's a reading nook in the kitchen.
A reading nook in our bedroom.
Both, with sun.
And we'll read. I know we'll read lots.
We'll read until we fall asleep.

When you're older you'll discover the downstairs of the house next to the sliding door where your play room will be. 
In and out, you can run. 
In and out, with the dogs.

Across the yard you'll see your dad's workshop where you can ask him questions and learn how to build. 
You'll learn about metal, wood, micarta, and all sorts of other materials that you can turn into anything you want.

The workshop will be yours just as much as it is his.
Just as our house is really for you.

29 weeks, 6 days.

This morning I felt your back against my hand and the
bump, bump, bump
of your body vibrate as you hiccuped again,
and again,
and again,
and again.
Your father felt you, too.

And then on the other side of my belly, suddenly your foot poked up and I held either side of your tiny foot pressed against my skin.

You're magical.
You give me butterflies.
You make me feel the depths of my soul I had forgotten about–not realized were there.

My fingers tap these keys, writing, and there you are.
thump.
thump.
thump.

Your tiny, little hiccups.

you're the only one (for me).

You're the one I love when the storm clouds are thick and grey.
You're the one I love when water pours into the boat.
When the waves feel sixty feet high, you're the one I love. You're the one I crave.

You're the only one I want to fall down this mountain with. 
You're the only one I want run across this desert with.

You're the only one who makes my heart beat and fills my lungs with air.
You're my Jupiter up in the sky, and you're my hand to hold at night.

Tangled in blankets, shivering, wrapped around each other, hoping, praying.
"I don't know,"
you say.
"I know,"
I reply.

You're the only one I love amongst so much unknown.

Still, you're the only one who sees the beacon in the distance and rows with all his might.
You're the only one that sees the rain and builds a dam to withhold it.
You're the only one who hears the word no and turns it into a yes. 
You're the only one who keeps his eyes open amongst the hail or  dust.

You're the only one I love. The only one I crave.

This is why I love you.

This is why I love you,

because when I lift up my skirt to show you the new stretch marks forming across my thighs–spider webs intertwined with one another–your eyes light up and you see the universe in my thighs. You see planets and bright starry galaxies and a world where anything is possible and everything is beautiful.

 

This is why I love you,

because when I lift up my shirt to show you my growing belly–a mountain growing out of the earth–you see a fortress, a castle, the home caring for your daughter, the vessel making room for change to come and inhabit our lives, something we've longed for for so long.

 

You love me for who I am, what I speak, the things I do and think, the woman I am. You see me not as the world sees me, not how the world makes me see me, but as both your equal and your other half. You see my flesh and my soul, the deepest parts of my being, and you still love me. 

 

I do not entirely recognize this body I live in. It changes each day and aches in new ways. And while sometimes I feel lost in myself and I can only see the new blue veins forming across my chest, you see rivers and setting suns, moons and wild flowers. The moon flickers back in your eyes, and you remind me of who I still am. 

Rest and restoration.

I've been in this weird creative rut lately; perhaps it's not a creative rut but simply that there are a lot of changes going on right now. Normally, change is when I find myself writing, but this time, this time things are different.

But suddenly when I woke up, I felt inspired in the way I only feel at this time of year. It's cold. It's dark. You study the light glowing through the window and realize how sacred it is. You pull you socks extra high, tuck in your undershirt and sip on a cup of tea. Things are sleepy and a bit gloomy, and I suppose it's in this meloncholy I find both rest and restoration. 

My relationship with photos is different than it used to be. I feel less inclined to capture the moment and more inclined to simply gaze at the moment and breathe it all in while it lasts. The credenza in my living room, the plant that sits on top, the spinning record and burning candle. It's a still life that I can photograph to remember or it's a still life I can sit in front of and contemplate the reality of its existence, my existence. It is here. It is now. I am now. 

Which brings me to words, and why I love words. They aren't digestible in the way photographs are, the ones we see on Instagram and mindlessly scroll past, catching only a glimpse of life here and life there. With words, you can't scroll past. They either don't exist and are merely dark shapes and negative space, or, they become an entire new world. 

Here in my home, I create an entire new world. I learn to play the ukulele and even pick up our old guitar. I play piano on my iPad until we find both the money and space for a real piano. My office is no longer my office, but a new room, slowly filling with new things for a new human I have yet to meet and yet who knows me possibly more intimately than I know myself. 

It's the time of year where things slow, things quiet, things sleep. The solitude and the silence: space created in order to let new things grow. But first, rest. We rest.

So the story goes.

So the story goes,

the house hums: the heater.
steam rises: a cup of tea.
words float; melodies dance: a record plays.

So the story goes,

he types; i type: we're home.

Our Home grows.
my belly Grows.
rain keeps us inside and you stay inside, too.
and when the rain stops and the flowers bloom,
so, Here, You will be.

and then, 
I don't quite know how the story goes. 

the house will still hum just in a different way.
my tea will probably be cold by the time i get to drink it.
words will still float and melodies will be dancing. 

he'll type; i'll type; you'll be asleep.

maybe you'll fall in love with the sound of these keys, 
the way i have.
maybe you'll fall in love with the sound of the rain, the way he has.
maybe i'll hear you type one day and i'll watch as you create another world in our home.

And so the story goes.