It was just a matter of time. The early signs have all been there these last few weeks: more comments on my belly size, more strangers smiling at me. But today, we crossed a threshold. It wasn't anything concrete, nothing tangible, but in the eyes of my congregation members I could see it clear as day:
"Oh my goodness. Our pastor is going to have that baby right now, isn't she?"
I'm pleased to report that we made it through both services without any sitcom-worthy moments (on some level, this is disappointing to Sean, but on most levels he's as relieved as the rest of us.) We've definitely entered new territory, though. I call it BabyComingAnyMinuteNowAndWeAreWoefullyUnprepared Land.
The doc calls it 36 weeks, and my Mayo Clinic guide tells me that Walt could be safely born now, but to hope for a few more weeks for the sake of his health and wellbeing. I didn't think I'd be saying this, but I'm hoping for more than a few more weeks. Yes, of course, for the baby. But also for some more time for me and Sean ... we need to pack a suitcase, people. We need to set up a crib and have our emergency contact numbers handy. We need to make sure Sean's special labor hat is in the car and ready to go.
You may be wondering why we've let ourselves reach this point without being better prepared. At 9 months in we really can't claim to be surprised. ("What?! We're having a baby? No way!")
Some of our unpreparedness is due to physical limitations: I underestimated my 3rd trimester uselessness by quite a lot and Sean's been shouldering almost all our day-to-day life stuff. He's got good shoulders for it, but he's also been getting migraines. This is new for Sean and, frankly, scary. I know from personal experience that it might be a long time before Sean and his neurologist find a way to manage these debilitating headaches. On the (kind of) bright side, taking care of Sean has given me opportunities to feel a little less useless. And, evidently, my forehead kisses are magical, which should come in handy in the long run for us.
We are praying like crazy for healing. It's hard not to feel like it's just not fair ... we should both be healthier than we are ... we need to be at our best! But part of me knows that "at our best" is mostly mythological when it comes to parenting. We will give everything we have and probably be surprised at the secret stores of energy, health and love we come up with in the most difficult moments. I've found some of that surprising energy in the last week or so. That's something to give thanks for, and to pray for, too.
After church today I said a goodbye-for-now to Kate and her baby daughter Mia, who are heading home to Mexico. I baptized Mia a few months ago (my first baptism as a pastor) and have loved looking out and seeing that beautiful baby girl dancing with her mom and grandma during church. Today Kate said, "I'll bet everyone is asking you if you're ready. You're not ready are you?" I shook my head, no. "Good. That's fine. No one is ever ready."
It was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. We are not as ready as we'd like to be for Walt's arrival. Even if we make it to 40 weeks (or beyond) we won't be completely ready. But we are ready and excited to meet our baby boy, whenever the time is right for him.
Countdown to maternity leave has begun in earnest, which means this month has been extra busy at work. I'm hoping to catch up on some good baby blogging soon, though ... there have been fun things to report on, like a baby shower and child birth classes. Stay tuned!