Heartburn and Heartache: A Tribute to Mothers

The 37th week of pregnancy has brought with it an unexpected emotion: I want to stop time. 

The heartburn is so bad I have to sleep sitting up, I want a nap about an hour after I get out of bed, and the baby's incessant, claustrophobic punches assure me that she's ready for action. But if I could only suspend time. 

Cassie, my two-year-old, has reached a kind of golden age. She is curious and honest and kind. As her language develops at pace with her self-consciousness, I have to hide my giggles - and my outright admiration - until she is tucked into bed and I can share the day's gems with my husband. 

Now, I don't doubt that I will love our second child as much as I do the first. And I'm sure that holding daughter number two will bring the same indescribable flood of emotion that holding Cassie does. But I also know that, in some small ways, things will change, and everything is so very, very good right now. 

And so the unexpected emotions continue: A bit of guilt in the knowledge that there will soon be someone to compete for my time and attention. A bit of fear. A sense of mourning for the loss of my one-on-one relationship with this precious little person. And the yearning to stop time. 

Because Cassie's delivery was early and fast and because we're a good two hour's drive from the hospital, we are packing for a temporary move as delivery day nears - doctor's orders. Both sets of grandparents live in the city where we'll deliver, so we'll hole up at my mom's house for a few weeks before and maybe a week after. Early in the pregnancy, I was relieved that we had a plan, but, as the day approaches, the idea makes me weepy. 

It's not because I'd rather be home. I love visiting my parents. And it's not because I'm afraid of breaking Cassie's routine, though that's what I've been telling everyone. My motives are much more selfish. It's because I know it will make me let go of her two weeks before I'm due. 

You see, the very presence of one of her grandparents pretty much ensures that she won't notice her mom is even in the room. And if she does notice, instead of climbing my legs to settle on my hip or asking me to play "run real fast," or to draw a pig or to dance to Blondie, she'll push her arm out at me in classic two-year old defiance. Sometimes, she even asks me to go away. 

I smile and try to understand the way my husband does. I try to understand that it's because she doesn't see her grandparents as often as she sees me. That she knows I'll always be there for her so she doesn't feel the need to cling. That I am the enforcer of rules, and the rules are different at Grandma's. But it kills me. I mean, it hurts somewhere deep to see just how quickly the irreplaceable is suddenly and firmly replaced. 

Having lived the pattern nearly each weekend for a while, I'll make the move knowing what is to come. But, for the next week or so, Cassie's daddy and I will be hogging her, night and day, and hogging all the time we have left. And I'll be thinking about how the whole situation is a metaphor for motherhood and the sacrifices we make each day for the good of our kids - for the health of the soon-to-be born and the well-being of the child that is. Even when it means doing something that just may hurt our hearts. 

And I'll be thinking about all you moms who recognize that, even before our children are born, their needs are paramount. I'll be thinking about all of you who recognize the fundamental nature of being a mother and who inspire yourselves each day to be the best mom you can be in spite of your own wishes and wants and motivations. 

Here's to you all.