I lifted my daughter up to the freezer door recently to look at all the family pictures held in place by magnets. She pointed at the ultrasound.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Your little brother,” I said.
She frowned, then wiggled free from my arms and left the room. It’s hard to distinguish much on that alien-shaped black and white photo. Could that be a nose? The ultrasound photos are like staring into a deep sea and trying to make out a shape of something swimming at the bottom. A trained eye can point out the detail, but not me. And it’s hard to make the connection between that blurry photo and the next big word in my life — son.
My daughter hasn’t been so sure about the new word in her life — brother.
“Am I smart?” she asks, getting a quick “yes” in reply. “Will the boy be smarter than me?”
My wife and I talk some with Addie about the big change ahead, but neither of us feel we need to pressure her too much to feel acceptance. She’ll come to that on her own time. And I guess we’re just as busy trying to prepare ourselves for the change, too. It’s a little overwhelming.
I keep thinking about the actual birthday. As Jana started contractions with Addie four years ago, I went to bed and told her to wake me up when she needed me. Looking back, I can’t believe that was me. I’m a pretty horrible worrier, but I slept soundly that evening. I remember thinking that at least one of us needed to be clearheaded when we actually went to the hospital. So, I put my head on the pillow and was immediately gone.
In retrospect, I don’t know if it was confidence or ignorance that allowed me to sleep that night. Maybe it was a confident ignorance. Don’t the two often go hand in hand?
But this go around, we’re still several weeks off and I’m often struggling to shut my mind off at night.
Of course, the world feels pretty different than it did four years ago. Life feels a bit more fragile to me than it did back then. Our society, in general, feels like it’s been knocked wobbly. And we’re waiting to see if we can stay on the bike.
I can go on and on about all my apprehensions, my worries. I can get pretty grim if I let myself. In fact, I’m quick to do so. And I think I can offer some pretty good reasons for expressing a sour attitude at times.
But I don’t really enjoy being like that.
It’s a constant fight inside, one that I often lose. But I don’t want to crowd out the good with thoughts of the bad. I don’t want to let the good pass by without really enjoying the special moments.
We sat in a childbirth class Sunday at St. Mary’s with Heather Shaw, a nurse from Madison County, cracking up the class. She was really good. Her class was very comprehensive and entertaining. And she addressed the scary stuff in a matter of fact way that puts you at ease.
She held up that belt that will go around my wife’s waist to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. I remember that sound coming through the monitor four years ago.
We will hear it again soon, the thump tha thump of an arrival.
We look forward to meeting our son, Noah Edward, and seeing our daughter hold her brother for the first time.
That’s one photo that might never leave the refrigerator door.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.