(Grateful to Deb Schwedhelm for my maternity photos.)
Sweet baby-to-be: In five weeks (or seven if you take after your brothers) you will arrive in this world. You are special. I know this now, and I have not even met you yet. You are our third child, but are already first in many ways.
You are our first “surprise.” I never thought my insatiable curiosity could withstand nine months of suspense, but I am enjoying this much more than I could have imagined. My mind wanders often, daydreaming of whether you will be my third son or first daughter. I am so eager for the moment of your birth, when you emerge from the warm tub of waters and answer the most pressing question I have known.
You will be the first to make your entrance in the comfort of our home and into my arms, minus a required time line or drive to a birth center. You will be surrounded by a relaxed mama and other gracious women — gentle midwives, loving doulas and perhaps your brothers (if they don’t drive your mama crazy–that negates the relaxed part). There is something primal and powerful and nostalgic about this. It is a rare experience in our modern society.
You will be our first baby to arrive while your daddy is away. This breaks all of our hearts, but I think his most of all. Sweet child, he will hold you for the first time when you are at least two months old, when some of the newness of you has faded and you are more of a baby. You will meet in a hangar bay surrounded by hues of reds, whites and blues. He will smell like oil and airplanes. His flight suit will wrap around your tiny body and he will hold you close. We will all cry–maybe you too? (At this stranger you do not yet know, but will love with all of your heart soon.) I look forward to this day and dream of this moment almost as much as your birth.
(Maternity photos courtesy of Deb Schwedhelm)
He departed when you were just beginning to blossom in my belly and carrying you as a “single mama” while taking care of your two young siblings has challenged and refined me in ways I never anticipated. You have made me more grateful for our strong family and more compassionate for women who must raise children on their own (with no daddy in sight)–and even to my own mother, who was a single parent for most of my life.
You may be the first to be the last…of sorts. We don’t think you are the last of our children, but it is quite possible that you may be the last baby I carry in my womb. This fills me with excitement and wistfulness all at once. You are the essence of bittersweet. I treasure the feeling of your movements and the blessing it is to grow a tiny life inside of me. When I am exhausted or achy, I work harder at being thankful for the many reasons why I feel this way. I want to experience you fully, both the pleasures and pains. I yearn to remember these complex emotions and fleeting sensations with gratitude.
Little one, you don’t have a proper name yet, but I love you with all of my being. You are a blessing from God, even in your difficult timing. You have an eager family waiting for you…and you will be treasured and celebrated and admired. For all of these things my sweet, you are not the first, but the next–the next chapter of our humble family story as it unfolds. I would like to ask you to hurry–I am tired, and wobbly, and ready to meet you soon. Instead, I will wait patiently for you, enjoying you on the inside. Come as you are, my dearest son or daughter. And come when you are ready.
With every ounce of my heart,
I read another mother’s letters to her children a few years ago and loved the idea of documenting my family this way. It began with a “Letter to My Sons” and will continue each year on their birthdays (or at other special times). Have you written something similar? Or are you planning to write your own love letters to your little ones? Please share your links so we can enjoy them.
Co-editor Stephanie Beaty is a blessed mama of three children and military spouse. After a 10-year career as a professional writer/PR pro she began Lifeography, a modern child + family portrait studio where she focuses on capturing relationships and connections. Although her growing family currently resides in Virginia Beach, Va., home is wherever the Navy sends them. Write to her at email@example.com.