Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Evangeline,
This is the first letter that I've addressed to you, by name. Before now, it has always been a heartfelt, but impersonal, "Dear Baby,". We've known for quite awhile what your name would be, almost from the moment we found out you were a little girl actually, but I've been in no hurry to announce it. I don't know how to explain why, other than to say it's been out of selfishness. I don't want to share you. Besides the sonogram pictures and movements I feel each day, your name is the most tangible thing that we have of your existence. When other people, who haven't felt your presence in their bodies or yearned for you, call you 'Evie' or 'Evangeline,' I cringe inside and grit my teeth a little. I realize this is your name, what people will call you your entire life. It will be said a million times a day in our house, I'm sure, and at that point it will no longer be as significant as it is now, but when I hear it on someone else's lips right now, it feels like they're stealing the magic of your existence away, like they're making you less than you are, someone ordinary, and in my eyes you are anything but.

The weeks have been flying by! So fast that I hadn't realized that the last picture we took of my growing belly was at 18 weeks. This Friday, I will be 30 weeks along. This has your Papa feeling anxious and excited, but my feelings are bittersweet. I'm sure this is only the beginning of the bittersweet feelings of parenthood. In 10 weeks or less, I'll be staring at a bright eyed newborn wondering where my pregnancy went, and in a short time I'll be staring at a little girl wondering where my baby went. So I'm trying to relish this homestretch of pregnancy. I did not expect to like being pregnant. I expected to hate it, because every woman I've known has hated it, or at least they never loved it, but I really love it. I love trying to distinguish what little hard part is pushing against me - is that a foot? a knee? a tiny baby butt? I've loved feeling every roll and move you've made since the very beginning. It feels like a secret language that we have - a mother and daughter morse code. I love feeling the steady thumps when you get the hiccups. Your Papa didn't believe me when I told him that's what those were until I let him read about it on one of those baby websites. In a way, I find it pretty surreal myself - getting the hiccups is such a human thing to do, you know? I love watching my belly become rounder and rounder. Despite stepping onto the scale and seeing numbers that I never thought would correlate to my weight in my entire life, I love the way my body looks with a child inside of it. I'll miss those quiet minutes spent in front of the mirror after undressing at night, running my hands over the ever tightening skin and flat belly button, admiring the marvelous feat my body has managed in creating and sustaining you.

I expected to find myself miserable and ready for it to be over already by this point, but I'm actually a little sad to see this journey coming to an end. Even as I grow increasingly uncomfortable from your little feet kicking me in the ribs, I can't help but dread that the days of having you all to myself are coming to an end. Right now you're safe and warm, comforted by my familiar noises, and I can nurture and protect you in a way that I'll never be able to once you're born. I'm torn between these feelings, and the desire to memorize the curve of your cheeks, the smell of your skin, the sound of your cry. I want to see you sleep on your Papa's chest and bring joy to his life that he's never known, but these last few weeks are precious to me. We're existing in the same breath, living from the same blood, and I'm in no hurry to end it.
You reacted to your Papa's voice for the first time a few days ago while we were decorating the Christmas tree, and I almost became a blubbering idiot over it (pregnancy hormones, you know). I hadn't felt you move in awhile and had started to worry. Your Papa got down on his knees and started talking to you. He didn't poke or prod you, just said your name and asked you where you were while rubbing my belly, and you gave him a little show. I read somewhere that you're able to hear voices other than my own inside the womb, so I had assumed that if you heard his voice enough that you would start to recognize it or at least be comforted by it after you're born. It could have just been a coincidence that you happened to feel like having a party in there as soon he started talking, but I don't think so. I like to think that you're already as in love with your Papa as I am.

We made our first trip to Babies 'R' Us this weekend to buy your car seat and play yard that we plan on using as a bassinet. We also ordered your crib and mattress! Afterwards we laughed about the fact that I'm 30 weeks along and besides clothes, these are the first baby items we've purchased. Most people have been in Babies 'R' Us at least 20 times by now. When people ask us if we have everything we need or if your nursery is finished, I feel a little guilty. They really aren't asking, as much as assuming, so it always takes them by surprise and I can see a flash of judgement on some people's faces (like we shouldn't be having a baby if we can't be ready for one by the time I'm 30 weeks along) when we laugh and tell them we still need a lot and no, your room isn't finished and probably won't be by the time you arrive. The truth is, we don't have a lot of money to spend on cute or convenient baby items, but I'm truly okay with that. We're simple people. We don't need a lot to be happy, and the fact that we've been able to conceive you is enough for me. I don't need to dress you up like a baby doll or have a perfect nursery ready when you arrive. Neither one of our extended families are getting involved, and a lot of our parents and close family aren't in the financial position to help as much as some can, so we're doing this mostly on our own. We've had to do a lot of things on our own since being married, and it's made us a team. Pulling together comes naturally to us, because we are all we have - we need each other. It also makes us really appreciate when someone does step in and help us out.

In the middle of November, our friends here in Albuquerque all got together and threw us a surprise baby shower. Before that they also threw your Papa something called a 'beer and diapers party.' This helped us out more than I think they all realize. You probably would have been sleeping in a laundry basket for the first few weeks if it weren't for them (and your Uncle Jim and Aunt Betty, as we like to call them). We've only known some of these people for 3 or 4 months and their generosity blew me away. There are some really good people in this world, and I hope you're lucky enough to find friends as good as these throughout your life.
We're slowly but surely getting things ready for your arrival. Like I've said before, we may not have the money to buy you everything you'll ever want, but we're wealthy in the things that matter most. We have a beautiful life and can't wait for you to be a part of it.

All the Love in the Universe,


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