*This post was written on April 8th at around 6pm...
just three hours before my water broke.
It's taken a few days to finish it and get the pictures up.
It seems a little surreal to me that this blog, this happy space that represents the corner of my mind where words capture memories and help me explore my innermost thoughts, doesn't even know that in just a few short days (hours?) our family will get to meet and hold and snuggle the brand new baby girl we've all be so passionately excited about.
But recorded here or not, it's happening. And, recorded here or not, we are simply thrilled.
There has been something so beautiful about this pregnancy, something different than in the past, and I've spent a lot of time inspecting and pondering and digging to find the root of it. It's been hard to nail down and has taken me months and months to prune out all the tangential reasons and find that, I think, the difference all boils down to Love.
It's kind of tricky to explain what I mean, though... because I obviously want it to be clear that each of my children are loved with such an intensity, and that there are no favorites or differences in the levels of love they pull from my heart. But it also is true that, aside from being loved for simply just existing, each child is loved for different reasons and that the love I feel for each one is very unique and tailored personally because of the differences in his or her own beautiful heart. I've often wished that in our language the word Love was split into dozens of words that each capture one of the slight variations of its meaning. Shouldn't there be different words, for example, to describe how I feel about peanut butter M&M's, and how I feel about my husband? Yet 'love' is all we have, and if there is a better way to describe it I cannot find it.
So, working within the deficiencies of language, I will say that the love throughout the last nine months for this little girl has been preciously priceless and beautifully unique, and that that has made the difference.
One way in which this love has been unique is in the sweet Love Sparkles that come from the eyes of my kids as they talk about and ask about and dream about who their little sister will be. They are all invested so deeply in this future. I think this investment is largely fueled by McKenzie's and Carson's maturity and it has been so delightful to have older kids through this whole thing. Their minds understand well what it all means and their hearts took no time at all to grow and adapt to the new love that filled them. Their excitement is absolutely contagious both for their two younger siblings and for their parents, and I believe it's out of that excitement that those sweet Love Sparkles appear. I see them when we study the ultrasound pictures together, and when we fold the new tiny clothes straight from the dryer, and hold the warm, soft blankets to our cheeks. I see the Love Sparkles in their eyes when they feel the baby softly bump with her hiccups, when they feel her tiny kicks, and when they watch my belly as she rolls to a new position. And the Love Sparkles shine bright when we talk about the future - where she will sleep, what we will call her, who will teach her all the things...
Another way the love has been unique is that so many friends and neighbors have shared in the excitement this time. Babies are in short supply around here as a large majority of the people in my daily circles finished adding to their families years ago, and because of that there has been an excitement that has followed me wherever I have gone. I feel so grateful for all the people around me who have been so generous in sharing their love for this baby with our family.
Along the same lines as the ones above, but slightly different, is the simple idea that love added to love equals more love. I know, it sounds too simple, but for me it's not quite as intuitive as it seems. I remember feeling concerned when I was expecting my second child that I'd have to split my love between McKenzie and the new baby once he arrived (and I've found out since it's a pretty common feeling). But I found that the magic of love is that it's not finite. When that second baby came there was no split or divide of love like there was on time. My heart simply stretched and filled with more love than it originally had to begin with. And it happened again with the third, and the fourth, and the fifth... Now, of course, big families are not for everyone, but for me I am so grateful to have experienced so many love growth spurts in this way. And holding six children, including Jess, in my heart feels rich and beautiful.
This idea of love growing is true in my own heart as described above, and it also can be expanded to include my whole home. It's been my experience that love feels bigger when there are more people sharing it (which may not be true universally, but for whatever reason feels true for me in this case). Having four children and two parents loving this little girl has exploded our home with love! The love seems to snowball from one person to the next to the next and back to the first again, getting bigger and stronger with each day until it has filled us to bursting.
Maybe the biggest way this love has been unique, however, is in the ways my own perspective has changed and matured throughout the last years. I'm not quite sure how it happened exactly, but my first baby has somehow gone and grown right up into a teenager, and my other babies are all functioning and thriving with personalities all their own. They bike through our small town taking such great care of their increasing list of responsibilities and contribute to the family dynamic in beautiful, unique, and often surprising ways... this growing up is happening so quickly, and it has given me new light to see that this little one we are expecting any minute is so much more than a baby. She is a person, with her own individual spark who will add life and light and something special to our family. A newborn baby is something to love, yes yes yes, but the promise of a future for that baby? Of a child? Of a teen? Of an adult? How much greater is the love in that.
Come soon, little one... we simply can't wait to meet you.