You want us to KNOW you, there is no doubt in my mind about it. And you’re already teaching this Marmie what surprises are all about.
Here is the next part of the story of how we found out who you are going to be:
It begins with a couch.
Yes, a couch. But this is no ordinary couch. It happens to be the only piece of furniture in our home that was not owned by someone else first (we love old, story-filled things. we also love free stuff). Your Mimi and Poppy (my mom and dad) bought it for me before I even knew who your Papa Bear was. (Sidenote: that last sentence had entirely too many cutesy words in it.)
It’s a good one, that couch. It’s mission style, it’s cozy, it makes for the best naps…and it holds many memories, especially for your dad and I. On this couch, he told me he loved me for the first time (he whispered it, I pretended I didn’t hear him just so he’d have to say it twice), and he kissed me for the first time there, too. I’ve told him before that we can never give away this couch because it holds so much of our history.
Just a piece of furniture, but more.
So on Sunday night, we added another memory to our couch. We found out together if you are our son or daughter. The news was sealed in an envelope.
As he held it, he first asked, “what do you think this says?”
And I said, “wait. Are you SURE you want to find out?”
So he placed the envelope on my stomach and asked you. (I’m not sure why)
But we’re sure you want us to know, so the envelope was opened. And then I looked at my husband-who’s-going-to-be-your-father and he told me this:
"Beth, we’re going to have a SON in August.”
Tiny Bables…..you’re a BOY!!
We love you, our son. We can’t wait to meet you and have so many adventures.
p.s. I’m sorry I thought you were a girl and kept trying out girl names on you and dreaming of all the girl outfits I’d dress you up in. I thought I had that mother’s intuition thing going on. I thought the Chinese gender predictor was scientific fact.
Grandma Ables always said that “Ables only make boys,” and I think she’s grinning at us from heaven right now. A little I told you so smile. I guess I just wanted you to be different. And you know what? You will be different. You are the only you. And you are ours. You are love.
But now I think I need to clarify that statement. I like the surprises that I like. Which means that there’s a myriad of experiences in life that I’d rather go into prepared.
But we’re all like that, I think. A surprise party? Yes—loved ones gathered together for YOU? Awesome. A surprise gift? Of course—it’s something for YOU.
See the commonality? It’s all controlled, and the denominator is SELF.
Life-surprises are rarely self-specific, though, and child-bearing is no exception. No matter how many books I read, mothers I speak with, or experiences I visualize, this is a time of surprises. Of expectations exceeded, and also of expectations unmet.
Creating life is simply another part of, well—life.
If you’ve read this post, then you know that Mr. Ables and I planned to be surprised (the irony’s in that last phrase, I see it). I embraced the wonder of finding out on my child’s gender on the Birth Day, and not until then. I could vividly SEE that moment in my mind, and it blurred out all of the “why wouldn’t you want to find out?” “why not use today’s technology?” type questions. This decision was OUR decision, and we felt good about it. Not knowing Bables gender would be one more thing to look forward to. The surprise of all surprises.
Well, yesterday morning was our 20 week ultrasound. Mr. Ables and I both took the day off from school and the excitement seemed to crackle in the air on the car ride to the doctor’s office. Since I was the first appointment of the day, there was no waiting. All in a blink, I was on the table, the goo squirted on my belly, and we were looking at our tiny Bables once again.
The technician asked, or rather stated, “so we’re finding out the gender today.” And I said, with confidence: “No, we’re going to be surprised.” And, as an afterthought, “I mean…you will check and make sure everything is okay and normal down there, though, right?” She informed us that she would tell us to look away when she checked all of those organs. I relaxed and prepared to gaze at our baby, ready to soak it all in.
And, blessing of all blessings, Bables is healthy and moved around so much! Waving little baby hands, kicking little feet, and even wrinkling its little Bables’ brow. It was an experience I’ll never forget. A bit surreal, a lot reassuring, and heart-surgingly lovely.
As the technician zoomed out at one point, we could see Bables entire body. EVERYTHING. The ENTIRE body.
"Whoops." she quickly clicked to another angle. My heart began to pound to try to catch up with my whirring thoughts: did I just see what I think I saw? Did this surprise really just get spoiled? Why do I feel disappointed? Did I really see that? Is my baby some sort of exhibitionist? Is Bables already disobeying me? Did anyone else see it? Do I ask, and confirm my suspicions? Did Mr. Ables see it?
Oh, dear. Surprise, indeed. Four months too early.
Mr. Ables and I didn’t talk about it until I was in the exam room. I leaned over and said (sorry, Mom, these are my real words. You raised me to be a fine young lady, I promise),
"Did you see a little wiener? I think I did."
"Yeah, I mean—I guess. What do we do?"
Since we had no answers, we went the rest of the day talking of other things, and celebrating the joy of a healthy, lovely baby. Even if the 3-D image did make Bables look a little like a frog…
Last night, around 9:00 though, I lost it. Sobbing, messy, snotty…lost it. My heart was broken. My plan—our plan—was lost. And in a sense, I felt lost, too. The vision wasn’t the vision we thought it’d be. I couldn’t get it together. This was a fit pitched in the largest, most out of control contexts. Embarrassingly enough, I fell asleep in my clothes and woke up at 7:30 am and cried a little more. I felt like I was in mourning.
I was mourning a dream deferred. And I know it’s silly. I know in the scheme of so much going on in the world and in my life it is NO BIG DEAL. Yet, I needed time to look my selfishness and my bratty-ness in the face.
After a lot of talking with my husband, here’s what we’re doing. Mr. Ables is 75% sure of what he saw, and I’m 90% sure. We have Bables’ gender written on a card, sealed in an envelope. Tomorrow, we’ll find a favorite place, open the card, and Mr. Ables will tell me if our sweet baby is a boy Bables or a girl Bables. Though this still seems like a let-down, I feel peace about it. It is now a part of this story, of this loved baby knit together within me. Looking like its father…or maybe a little like a frog.
After we tell some of our close friends, I’ll reveal it to you all—dear readers from all over the globe (so no guessing yet, please). Thanks for sharing this journey with me, thanks for appreciating honesty, thanks for all the love you send our way.
Well, we’re halfway there. Halfway to a family of three. Halfway to meeting our tiny Bables.
From now until we meet the wee one, I thought I’d post a photo and a few things Mr. Ables and I are experiencing each week.
I am feeling too much these days. Angry, hungry, sad, worried, happy, joyous, heart-surged with questions, and an entire spectrum more. I’ve always been an emotional person, but my feelings are heightened tenfold. I try to embrace the blessing in this rawness, to understand that it is with all of these feelings that I am truly aware and awake to the changes unfolding in my life. Of course, bursting out crying over something that might require a simple question of clarification makes me feel like I am, well—a baby. Is this why I go through this? So that I understand a child’s’ rush of frustration? I think Mr. Ables should be the one responding here. He’s the one that’s “experiencing” all these feelings of mine.
I am seeing my body change daily. Yet, the blossoming of spring as my own life blossoms and grows is lovely. The dual unfurling makes these changes more coherent and beautiful. The seasons of my life and of the world align.
I am hearing a heck of a lot of advice. Much of it I welcome—much of it is unsolicited. You know what I’ve realized through all of it? Nobody’s figured out the whole parenting thing. The best thing I’ve heard is a bit of advice for new mothers: it’s your baby’s first time being a baby, just as it is your first time being your baby’s mother—you are learning it all together. I am also hearing many exclamations at my ever-growing midsection. When you are pregnant, anyone can (and somehow feels obligated to) comment on your body. Hear me out: I love the hands on my stomach, the celebrations of all things Bables, I do NOT like hearing, “Mrs. Ables! Your stomach like BLEW UP overnight!” Even if it’s followed by, “Like…in a cute way.” It could be simply that I heard this at 8:15 in the morning (see above under “I’m feeling”)
I am thinking that all the worrying my Mom’s always up to is just part of the territory. I guess soon my spit will possess dramatic cleaning properties, and I’ll be carrying around Kleenex, dental floss, and peppermints in my purse. Where the heck is my purse anyway? I am also thinking oh my lawd I’m halfway through this thing and one day I’m going to be in a heck of a lot of pain and then I’m going to have a baby to care for and one day that baby is going to be awkward and twelve and one day that baby will be in high school and think I am the most clueless person on earth and I’ll still be doing that teenaged baby’s laundry and cooking that baby meals…. Yeah. Whew. I need a milkshake.
I hope you can tell that I am excited. Oh, tiny Bables, we love you so. August can’t get here fast enough.
a list for Saturday night under the fullest of full moons
I just got home from helping with the high school play. I was a waitress in one scene, and tonight I stuffed a wad of fabric under my shirt, making me look about seven months pregnant. One of the 11th grade boys was very confused: “Mrs. Ables, you didn’t look like that yesterday, did you?” I told him no, I did not. And to remember that on Prom night.
My mom told me that whenever I felt Bables move, to tell the baby “I love you.” And though at first that seemed a bit silly, I tried it. And each time, I feel closer to my child.
I don’t talk to Bables in public. Wouldn’t that be amazing, though? I’m in the checkout line at the grocery store. The cashier asks, “debit or credit?” and I respond, “Hi, little baby. I love you! Keep growing strong! …Debit.”
I ate a Dunkin Doughnuts old fashioned doughnut this morning. I don’t know why, but those things sure taste good to me these days.
Last night I dreamt that I gave birth to a little polar bear, and though it fit nicely into a Christmas-themed onesie, when I undressed the baby bear in order to bathe it, I noticed it had fleas. I was unsure whether to take it to the pediatrician or the vet.
Don’t worry, I read that dreaming of polar bears signifies a “reawakening.” Interesting, right?
Sounds I hear right now: Sun Kil Moon on the stereo, Matthew’s shower, and the dryer. A harmony of home sounds.
We went to the beach today. Dolphins swam so close to the shore that you could hear them breathing whenever they arched out of the water, glistening in the sun.
My skin has that warm, tight-stretched feeling it always has after a day in the sun. It makes me feel about eight years old, it makes me dreamy and longing for summer days. Or at least a sprinkler to run through.
You are reading this list. You are awesome. Go outside and look at that moon, closer to us than it has been in years. Think about the fact that you’ve never seen the other side of it. Think about the mysteries we’ll never really understand. Find the beauty in that.
“I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”—
We’ve been busy lately, little bell-pepper-sized baby. I’ve felt you move, and have a poem in the works about it. I love the word for these first movements: “quickening.”
I’ve especially treasured the last few weekends, and I know one of the reasons is because I am enjoying them for both of us. You already have improved my life. So small…and so so big. Thanks for that.
One weekend, your Aunt Meghan came to visit. We walked a whole lot and talked and one morning ate cinnamon rolls :
…can you tell these two lovelies are related? Hello, dimples.
Then, another weekend, your papa and I went on a walk. We took some pictures of my growing self and the two of us. Here I am, 18 weeks pregnant:
I had an emotional meltdown in the middle of the hustle and bustle of King Street (hooray for hormones), which led to a healing talk in a graveyard. Yes, a graveyard. In Charleston, they are everywhere and—at least that afternoon—made a private place for us to talk about our dreams for you. Sniff sniff. It was such a restful, and honest talk that I took a picture of where we sat:
Perhaps the spirits in that Lutheran church yard soothed us (me), but after a bit, our words faded and stomachs began to rumble. So we enjoyed falafel and Dutch fries:
And it was SO GOOD. I am thankful each day in new ways for the husband I love and the city I live in.
As for this weekend, we took an adventure with our friends Michael and Rita to Botany Bay on Edisto Island. Thousands of acres of unspoiled marsh, beach, and farmland.
We explored, took pictures, talked, and then ate some really delicious barbecue. A lovely day!
At one point, Michael walked close to Matthew and kind-of mumbled, “Can you believe you’re going to have a little kid in a few months?”
We can’t wait, Bables. See how lovely the world can be?
Mr. Ables and I are not going to find out Tiny Bables’ gender.
…well, at least not until August. :)
We’ve always said that “being surprised” would be the best for us, but when I found out I was pregnant, I had second thoughts. I was so certain that Bables is a girl that I wanted confirmation…or to wrap my head around this “girl” really being a boy.
As we get closer to what I call The Big Ultrasound, I’ve released the desire to know if we’re having a boy or a girl. I’ve read that this is a way to make the father feel like he is a part of things (I don’t really understand how that works…), and since Mr. Ables really seems to want a surprise, then that makes me want it for him. For us.
Honestly, the only reason I really want to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl is to please people. My mom (hi, Mom! You’re on the Internet!) says, “this is 2011…use that technology!” and even others ask, “how will I know what kind of outfit to get your little baby?” Of course, my students think this is a big bummer: “ugh, really? Mrs. Ables, that is SO BORING.”
But much urges us the other way. My brother and sister in law did not find out the gender of my niece, and she has plenty of sweet dresses. Our few friends that have children urge us to be surprised. I even received an e-mail from a former student’s mother asking me to consider waiting until the baby’s Birth Day to find out if we have a son or daughter! Besides, I prefer the “neutral color scheme”. Our baby’s nursery wouldn’t have been airplane-monster truck-construction worker or princess-ballerina-Pepto Bismol-themed, even if we did find out the gender. And I know it’s not all about the decorations and the outfits, but I feel connected and close to this baby already.
These are all of the things I say to justify our decision.
I’m fighting my people-pleasing tendencies, and setting aside all justification. When I envision the end of labor (haven’t really tried to think about the beginning or middle yet), I well up thinking about that gentle husband of mine looking at me and telling me whether we have a daughter or a son. My heart bursts at the thought of it. Think of that experience!
You are 17 weeks old, which means (the books tell me) that you can hear now. And I made sure you enjoyed your first sounds this weekend.
See, months ago, when you were no more than a dream, Mr. Ables and I found out that one of my favorite bands, the Old 97s, were playing in Charleston.
Over the years, your Uncle Brandon introduced me to all kinds of music, and I’ll never forget going to see the Old 97s with him in Asheville—he’s usually reserved and oh, so cool, but that night…that night, Uncle Brandon was yelling song lyrics and cutting loose. It was infectious, rowdy, and such fun. Since then, I’ve looked forward to seeing them again.
Little Bables, I want to somehow express to you how often life (if you allow it) will give you moments like this: moments of music washing over you, surrounded by a singing/yelling crowd…you’ll look around at all of the faces washed in colorful stage lighting and think: we are ONE in this moment. It’s a bit holy, really. Your papa bear and I have talked about this many times.
Here we all are, second-row, in a calmer moment.
Okay, fine. Your papa bear is mellow. Reeeeeaaaally mellow. I think in this picture he’s watching me watch the lead singer Rhett Miller (who’s pretty dreamy, and at this point, ridiculously sweaty). I might have been oogling. Your papa thought that was funny. He laughs at me a lot. Will you join him one day? Or will he laugh at both of us instead?
One of our friends was there and told me, “I can’t believe you’re on the second row! Do you want that baby to be deaf?” It made me feel like a bad mother, and then I remembered about six or seven years ago when I saw (then indie band, now supergroup) Coldplay at a gym (yes, really) in Charlotte. I remember vividly this family two rows in front of us: two kids and their parents, all rocking out at a show. The mom kept looking back at the kids, her face brimming with delight, as if she was saying to them, "Don’t you love this? Aren’t you glad we’re all here together?" They were. They were united. Your uncle and I both agreed we wanted to be those kind of parents one day.
I want to share with you who I am right now, not the “perfect mom” vision that plagues me all the time. I want to enjoy what you enjoy as well…and so this weekend, my Bables wish was for a concert moment with you one day. A golden moment of singing at the top of our lungs, smiling so hard it hurts as we look around and realize that we’re a a part of Something bigger.