It was a gift.
I took a long bath. I think I sat in there for almost an hour and read a book my mama gave me a few days ago. Jeremiah came in to stand beside the tub and jabber away and run his cars along the ledge. Once in awhile, he'd drop one in and have me retrieve it, a quiet giggle and sparkle in his eye as he pointed and said "car!" Then, "dank doo, Mama," and back to vroom-vrooming them along the porcelain.
After I got out of the tub, I put on a comfy flowing skirt and short-sleeve shirt and sat on my exercise ball as I continued to read the book and simultaneously play with my son when he wanted my attention. A gentle breeze floated in and out of the open windows and sliding glass door, calming my normally frazzled mind.
So I sat there, gently rolling back and forth on my ball, thinking about this baby who will be here in less time than I really understand. I think about her in her small fragility, not so much floating around inside me as she once did, but stretching and pushing and moving to find room for her rapidly-growing limbs. I think about her eyes and if she'll have blue like 4 of my children or brown like my current middle child and her daddy. I think about the birth and how I am frightened and at the same time, excited.
I think about the what-ifs and the never-wills and all the lessons I will re-learn and learn anew with this baby. And I realize how utterly tired I really am. How exhausted my body and my brain are. How for the last 10+ years I have been either pregnant or nursing and how this baby will continue my streak of life-giving capabilities, and I'm both honored and humbled by the very idea. I think about all the negativity I have and will receive for having such a big family in today's "two-at-most-a-boy-and-a-girl-are-perfect" world. And I think how in the bigger picture, it really doesn't matter.
I think about my c-section scar; my battle scar from my very first birth. And how far I've come from that naive and scared 22 year old's view of life. I think about the stretch marks that grace my belly, and how I have a love-hate relationship with them, and with my extra baby weight. I think about these things - little moments I remember from my past as a new mother, snippets of all the times I failed over and over, memories of joys I found in each newborn babe - all of it mingled and intertwined into one long stretch of motherhood where giving birth and surviving the first year were really not the horrors I thought them to be at the time.. and I breathe deeply in, I sigh, and I realize.... THIS is what life is about. I AM living. I'm holding on, traveling the parenting tunnel, taking my children along by their hands as they take me along by my heart.
I received a text from my husband telling me he was on his way. I geared up for the noise and chaos that would ensue when the door opened and they all rumbled inside with the breeze and the spring sun still warm on their skin. I've been having issues lately with noise and my nerves and I knew it wouldn't be pleasant to have their noise return. But I also knew that those hours I just had to myself were indeed a gift - but were not THE gift. The gift was my family, coming home to me after a few hours of time to themselves, filling my home once more with their laughter, scent and yes, even their chaos. It was having them rub and love up on my belly, talking to their baby sister inside, and then just as quickly flitting off again. It was the snuggling my almost-5 year old is so good at, and the easy way my older son settles in to alone mode to play with his Angry Birds for a time. It was that familiar and comforting atmosphere of the past 10 years of life enveloping our home, regardless of the difficulties or the negative.
It was pure, unadulterated Love.