I’ve heard this question a lot through this pregnancy from my 4-year-old, who always refers to the baby as “the newborn baby.” Time is such a hard concept for young kids to grasp that I’ve often been unsure how to respond best.
Initially, I wanted to put off telling the kids I was pregnant for as long as I could, so the wait would not seem as long. Because the girls would be attending my midwife appointments with me, I ended up telling them on the way to my initial appointment at 13 weeks. They got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, but I told them that the baby would not be here for a very long time.
I started showing earlier this time around, and the questions about when the baby would be here increased with the size of my bump. It was fall, so my responses usually included different holidays, “Not for a really long time, like way after Halloween and Christmas.” And then after those holidays passed, “Not for a really long time, like when it is almost your birthday.” My girls have birthdays in April and May, so they became the new finish line in our marker of time.
It started to get warmer, and I kept getting bigger. I got some of the baby stuff out of the attic, and the car seat and diaper changing pad quickly became props in my daughter’s play, serving as a reminder that it was just a little bit longer until an actual baby would be needing those props. I told my daughter that the dogwood tree in our front yard would probably have flowers on it before the baby came.
This last week, it hit me that I could really have the baby at any time. I went to the store to get some newborn diapers and groceries, noting that the expiration dates were beyond my due date. We picked out some flowers and talked about how the baby could be coming soon. We wondered if the tulips we got would still be blooming when the baby came and decided if they were wilting we would get some more. The timeline was becoming more tangible for my girls and definitely more real for me.
My first was born on her due date, and my second was four days late. All along I figured that this one would be on the same schedule until I started having actual contractions one night this week. I had spent the day washing baby clothes and putting them away. Maybe the baby thought that meant it was time. As I debated whether or not to wake up my husband or give the midwives a heads up, I realized how unprepared I was to have a baby. After three hours, the contractions stopped, and I went to sleep. Prodromal labor is not something I had ever experienced, and it felt the same way my other two labors started. When I woke up, I had mixed feelings. While I was relieved I had some time to get some more things in order, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed about having to wait just a little bit longer to hold my baby.