Our girl, Charlotte Emmellyn McGinnis, is due on Valentine's Day. Appropriate, I think, for the child we have loved and prayed for almost as long as we have loved each other. Ever since I have gotten pregnant, my husband Chris has become even more gentle and caring, something I had no idea was possible. And yet, there was a subtle shift when that second line appeared, and it grew even stronger as the days went by and I was wracked with morning...afternoon...evening sickness, IV fluids, and a lack of self-esteem so deep, I yearned to hide somewhere. I could imagine coming out when the pregnancy was over, holding my yowling child over my head like a victorious warrior woman, presenting her to the world like a magnificent gift.
Alas, I am not so strong. I need to be held and soothed, snuggled and taken care, nourished and sometimes (okay, many times) put up with as I ask my beloved for the millionth time if I'm still pretty. I hear these words coming out of my mouth, and I want to take them back, but it is always too late. And so I wait, feeling injured, as I hide my face from this man who loves me far more than I deserve. He never gets exasperated, he only pulls me close and tells me I am beautiful, I am loved, I am safe, and I will never not be so. In that moment, I believe him. I know there will come several more moments of insecurity before my hormones return to normal, but I am not afraid. He will speak this truth to me as often as it's needed.
Over the weekend, I mentioned that he should consider a career as a doula. I figured he has been an immense help to me since I got pregnant, and there is no shortage of single moms-to-be who could use some comfort. I imagined, I suppose, that he could be a sort of stand-in husband to these women in their hour of need, giving out back rubs, ice chips, and coaching them to breathe as they fight to bring their children into the world. Upon further research, however, we found that even after a few thousand years, this is still a predominantly female profession. Fine. I get to keep him all to myself then!
Last night as I climbed into bed, Charlotte started her nightly salsa dancing. As Chris leaned in to tell her goodnight, and how much we love her, she delivered a kick that felt like lightning. Several more followed, taking my breath away. "Let me OUT!" they seemed to say, "I want my DADDY!" The thought made me laugh. As a preemie of over three months, I wondered if a similar idea had entered my head before I made my early entrance. I rubbed my belly and sent calming thoughts to this girl who has become the center of our universe. I cautioned her to stay put and keep growing. As much as she might want to meet us now, it's simply not the right time.
I consider how lucky I am. I am bound by eternal marriage to a man who has wanted children for as long as I've dreamed of horses. The adoration I see on his face astounds me, to her for simply being, and to me for being her vessel into this life. It's a beautiful thing.
To my husband: I love you, and I always will. Thank you for loving me and taking care of me. You are my best friend and my eternal companion; there isn't anyone else I'd rather have by my side.