When I was expecting mini, one of my closest girlfriends asked: “Do you just love being pregnant? I’ve always thought you would.”
I had to think about that for a minute. I felt grateful and awestruck and elated and knew that I would gladly bear the discomforts pregnancy presented a million times over, but — I couldn’t say I loved being pregnant. I was anxious for the time to pass. I was nervous something would go wrong. I was terrified by the unknown — labor, a c-section, a baby, a new identity, a seismic shift in the life I’d always known! I didn’t like the feeling of being out of control of my body. Every twinge and twang sent me into spirals of concern. I (wisely) avoided googling each and every symptom, but (not so wisely) let my imagination get away from me and would toss and turn into the wee hours of the night, wondering if that ache was something more nefarious than I surmised. I remember complaining to Mr. Magpie that time was moving in reverse. “I’m ready for her,” I would say to anyone and everyone who would ask how I was feeling by around week eighteen or nineteen; it was hard for me to kill the time. It felt like I was sitting in a waiting room for — well, yes. Ten months.
This pregnancy is different. I often forget I’m expecting — mercifully so, though I would do well to remember that I should go easier on my self physically. (I have been scolded multiple times for picking up my two year old daughter too much.) I have less time and energy to fret over the aches and pains that seem to come and go daily, and most days (and weeks) fly by. I am instead preoccupied by the wants and needs and affections and curiosities of a very active almost-two-year-old, and I haven’t had much time to philosophize over what changes our son will introduce to our lives. This may be for the worse; I am sure I am in for a wild wake-up call, and on occasion I feel badly that I am not giving this pregnancy the attention I afforded mini’s. But mainly I am relieved by the blessing of distraction. I am startled when I discover I am no longer x weeks along — I am now y weeks along! That much closer to the finish line. That much closer to holding my son.
With mini, the wait was endless because I did not know what to expect and did not have the diversion of a toddler. With micro, time is flying but I still long to be at the finish line because I know what’s coming and it is a good, good thing. I am eager for the newborn phase. A friend who gave birth more recently looked at me sideways when I said so: “um, I think you’re forgetting what it’s like.” HA! Maybe. God must erase the tough parts from our memories to ensure there are younger siblings to be had. But at the same time, I stood firm in my excitement, comforted by two observations: first, I have friends who have long said they disliked the newborn phase — but I have never felt that way. I have always thought of it as exhausting, bleary bliss — even when in its throes. Second, I did not mind the sleeplessness as much as other moms I know did; I knew it was temporary, had been sufficiently forewarned, and have never been one of those people who “needs eight hours of sleep.” (Well, I probably do need them, but have observed that I fare OK on a more limited sleep schedule than others.) Also, my mom has no patience for “I’m tired” whining sessions, having been through five infancies: the handful of times I mentioned I was exhausted, she gave me a kind of shrugging “welp, this is motherhood” answer. Her ruthlessness on this point has probably steeled me.
Finally, I feel like I’ll be able to enjoy the newborn phase even more than I did the first go around. With mini, everything was new and mildly terrifying — what was that noise she made? She spit up — OMG OMG what do I do!? Is she choking on my breastmilk?! This time around, I anticipate fewer flares of panic and a better sense of perspective. A friend of mine wrote a note along with a gift she gave mini not long after she was born: “Enjoy the newborn snuggles; they vanish quickly.” I remember thinking that was an odd thing to say — newborns don’t snuggle, exactly? I thought. I imagined holding an older baby who might cling onto me as a more satisfying embrace. But now I get it. Newborns are tiny immobile lumps that just want to be held and cuddled. They burrow into your chest. They snooze on you. They don’t squirm out of your grasp. They don’t shriek “NO!” when you try to kiss them. They don’t sprint across the room after removing a soiled diaper, laughing maniacally. They just lay on you and smell like heaven and make you weep with sentimental joy.
In short, I cannot wait for my son to be here. I occasionally lay in bed and feel him move and think: “Ohh but what I wouldn’t give to have you outside already, in my arms.” I want to see him, put my arms around him, smooth his perfect skin under my thumb.
When I was pregnant with mini and would bemoan the slow passing of time, moms would give me a knowing look and tell me to “enjoy the quiet now.” I knew they were right, but I grimaced at the advice. No. I do not want to enjoy this. I want the baby! I am surprised to find I feel the same way now, during this pregnancy, when moms of two invariably tell me with that same knowing look: “Just enjoy the (relative) quiet now. Two is more than twice the trouble.” Again, I know they are right, but I still grimace at the advice. No. I want the baby!
I know that life is going to turn upside down in late May. I anticipate many long and exhausting days, tears of frustration, and moments where I sit in befuddled shock at the state of chaos and disaster in my apartment. But excitement gets in the way of those practical expectations and I find myself radiating with anticipation when I have the time to stop and think about my son. My son! My son! (He kicked when I wrote that.)
Onward we go…
Post-Scripts: The Beginnings of a Wardrobe for Baby Boy.
When I first announced I was pregnant, I wrote that I had only purchased two articles of clothing and that I was strong-arming myself into avoiding buying too much now. In the two weeks intervening, I have lost my reserve and started to build his layette wardrobe. I had no idea what I would be drawn to, to be honest — as I smocked bubble kind of mom? a jon jon kind of mom? a button-down-and-cords kind of mom? — but here’s where I’ve headed:
+I had really good luck in the sale section of LouLou’s Baby Boutique, where I discovered a previously unknown desire to dress my son as though he is British royalty. I stocked up on sweater-and-short sets like these and knitted rompers like these (or, from a different label, these). The deals are so good — I snagged a ton of great pieces! I was drawn to sets in blue, gray, and beige.
+I find I’m generally drawn to the aesthetic of European brands like Babidu, Foque, Jacadi, and La Coqueta — something like this, this, or this looks precious for a special occasion, with neatly parted hair.
+To my surprise, I am finding myself choosy about pieces that are smocked/monogrammed. I loved them on mini (i.e., in girl form) and have seen so many adorable boys wearing those styles but some of the designs I have found out there right now are cloyingly “Little Lord Fauntleroy-esque” to me for some reason. That said, I am drawn to shortalls/jon jons by Florence Eiseman (love these and these, both on sale) and Busy Bees Kids (love these). Thanks, C, for those recs!
+For true newborn/layette wear, it’s all about cotton jammies/coveralls. I love Kissy Kissy (this, this, and this), Livly Baby (I bought a few pairs of theirs for mini and ADORED the prints and the quality — I love this one for baby boy), and 1212. I also found a few pairs of RRR jammies in infant sizes on sale here.
+Love this affordable knit set.
+I bought one pair of swimming trunks (12M!) that coordinate with a swimsuit for mini from Sal E Pimenta’s sale section. I couldn’t not. I just hope that I estimated the sizing correctly…
+Now is a good time to stock up on basics like polo shirts, cable-knit sweaters, and rompers at Polo. They are an extra 40% off, bringing the cost of a polo shirt down to $8.40. Can you believe?! You can’t even get a knock-off polo from H&M for that price.
+I’m working on a list of what I’ll need gear-wise for baby boy — but it’s going to be fairly brief, as we saved almost everything from mini and frankly don’t have the space for anything else (though I wish I could have had one of these with mini — I know I would have used it in addition to our 4Moms rocker and our Boppy lounger back when we had three floors). I shared a couple of early thoughts here. My main priority is to find a carrier I like more than the ones I have because we are determined not to buy a double stroller (are we insane? possibly). Here’s our rationale: navigating New York with a one-baby stroller is challenging to begin with. Navigating New York with a double stroller is…impossible? They are so BIG. The Bugaboo — the one I’d want to buy — is a side-by-side double and way too wide to get through most doors in the city. I mean, it’s hard enough to get into a single door when you need to prop it open on your own with the stroller. But you’d have to somehow open TWO doors (if the store even HAS a set of double doors) to wield the Bugaboo. So that means the option is the Uppababy, which I understand people love, but is so freaking heavy! I tested one out the other day and was shocked at how hard it was to push. I also don’t care for the fact that one kid is so low to the ground in it — especially in New York, where puddles, cars, debris, etc, are everywhere. So. I think we’re going to buy the Bugaboo kickstand attachment and see how that goes. I’ve heard it’s not particularly useful since kids mini’s age will just hop off. But, I figure between the kickstand and a good carrier, we can get most places we need to go. And, if we need to, we can bring our umbrella stroller alongside our Bugaboo (of course, this means both parents would need to be present). So that brings us back to the carrier question. I am intrigued by the Solly Baby wrap, which many of you have recommended, and the Baby Bjorn mini carrier, which is designed specifically for infants/newborns. I’m going to take a field trip up to Albee Baby with a girlfriend to explore more carefully.
+Unrelated, but we have begun to toilet train mini. There are so many different approaches to this process and so many strong opinions on this topic that I’m a little scared to share our hippie strategy/non-strategy — but her goes. We have felt that mini has been giving us signals she is ready for the past month or two. She talks a lot about toilets, poop, etc., and is very interested in accompanying me to the bathroom, pulling off toilet paper, and flushing. She also will tell us before/during/after she is relieving herself and express a desire to be changed. So my first step was putting this on top of our toilet and having her sit on it, fully clothed. She loves it (“beee-uh” she says, pointing out the bear on the top) and beams with pride every time/sprints over to let Mr. Magpie know. Now we routinely find her bringing her stuffed animals and dolls to sit on the toilet and “poop.” The next step has been putting her on with no pants whenever she asks for it. She’s not yet been successful in completing things there, but she’s beginning to connect the need to go with running to the toilet. So there are lots of “dry runs” in the truest sense of the words. I am trying to make it super low-pressure. If she asks, we go. If not, we don’t talk about it. I have M&Ms saved in a little mason jar for when things go right. Now my biggest debate is what to do about diapers, which are a big pain to take off/put back on while she’s standing up and waiting to mount the toilet. I think I might order some pull-ups for this transition. It feels way too early to put her in underwear at this point. Maybe we’ll graduate to those when she’s had a few successful attempts? I have my eyes on these (cute prints!) and these (a classic – I think I owned a variation on these, too, growing up – – that rosette brings back nostalgia!). OK. That was way too much on toileting. But there we are.
P.S. If you can stomach it, now is a good time to snag Christmas jammies for next year. Lots are on sale!
P.P.P.S. A few of you have asked whether I will be bringing back my two-post Thursdays, where the second post is focused on mini. For the time being, I am going to be mixing in motherhood/children posts with my regular content rather than writing separate posts on a designated day of the week. I hope this isn’t too confusing/disappointing (let me know if it is) — I might aim to bring back “two post Thursdays” at some point but am trying to spend more time incubating each post before I publish, and feel that motherhood is increasingly seeping into a lot of my longform content anyway. It’s harder to isolate!
P.P.P.P.S. (This is getting ridiculous.) Thank you for all of your feedback on the carousel of products in yesterday’s post! I am so excited that it yielded such a warm reception. I usually write my posts well in advance of publication so you probably won’t see carousels until midway through next week — but THANK YOU for the feedback and know that they are coming!!! (Didn’t want you to think I was dropping that feature!)