These women, many of whom were at my doorstep last year with food, flowers and comfort, had again reached out and said to me, we won't let you not enjoy this, at least not for today, not for this moment. Just for these few hours, you will be a mom to be who is allowed to hope, to dream, to believe, that in a few days, you will bring a healthy baby home to love. Just for now, put the fear down, release the worry and revel in this child who is here, now. Just for this instant, let us surround you with our faith and our love and our conviction that this baby and you will be okay.
These women, many whom have known tragedy in their own lives very recently, a son's death, a grandson's death, a father's death, a son in Iraq, a brutal divorce and yes, even a stillbirth (which preceded Caleb and was only told to me after he had died, in quiet confidence but with the telling came the beginnings of the realization that I could survive and live despite my belief to the contrary), bestowed upon me and this baby, new beginnings, tiny new sleepers, tiny new slippers, quilts made by hand, each stitch its own gift, hangings custom worded for the wall wishing a little one Sweet Dreams, a diaper bag stocked with all the necessities for travel, at the ready and crafted by the fingers of a grandmother to a little boy named Caleb, (who was in my daughter's class last year and who was the first child I had to work with, on my first day back to volunteer in her class, after losing my own Caleb, calling that little boys name out that day nearly broke me but I told myself if I ran out at that moment I would never be able to return and so I sat with him and worked on phonics while holding back tears and visualizing the za.nax that waited for me in my car) each gift a small reminder of the women who have stood beside me in the last year and who have quietly but ever so strongly said to me day after day, you can do this.
So for a few hours I let myself be the happy(well, mostly, it was hard) pregnant woman, opening gifts, eating cake, sharing stories of being pregnant, and detailing the nursery developments and painting escapades. My Caleb wasn't far from my mind that afternoon, all the things that were never to be for him and me, our story will always be one of sadness and loss. But that day was not about him anymore, it was about a new life, a new beginning, a new baby.
When I got home I brought it all inside. I didn't leave it out in the garage, hiding it away until certainty was upon us. Instead it all sits downstairs, cards lined up on the shelves, gifts in neat piles on the floor, waiting patiently for the room to be finished so that they can take their place and wait, like the rest of us, for a new baby to come.
Feeling a bit brave and a little feisty, I took the kids and the ever growing belly of mine and we decided to mark the moment. No matter what happens, I want to remember that day. I want to remember the day I lived my life like a shiny happy pregnant person....even if it was only that day.
So this is what we looked like, the leprechaun and I...that day.