Jacob: August 8, 2010

Dear Baby,

We’ve known about you for a week now. My mind is rarely at rest unless I get caught up in distractions like work or chores. But even then you pop into my head all the time without a moment’s notice. I’m a writer. It’s how I process things. In the last five years I haven’t found it as necessary, something I like to think signals my own growth. But the day after we found out you were on your way I sat in church restless, desperately wanting to write, disciplining myself to listen to the sermon instead. There’s a lot to think about. A lot more than I expected. I am worrying a lot.

Last Sunday night your daddy and I had an amazing time of fellowship as we drove home from church, talking about just what it meant that you were here. Pregnancy has had as its predominant symptom up to this point mild cramps occasionally and one long severe cramp about five or six times a day. I’m getting used to it now but in those first days I was terrified that we would lose you. So was Daddy. I left church to use the bathroom and when I came back he put his arm around me: “You scared me!” Somehow that was validating and comforting. I’m not in this alone. He’s just as invested as I am. We agreed as we drove home that what we want most for you in the whole wide world is to see Jesus’ face. So as much as we hope and pray that we’ll get to see your face first, we’re always trying to remember that it will be OK if we lose you.

That’s the biggest reason why we’re not telling people about you yet. We’re waiting till the first trimester is over and there’s less risk of losing you, and the waiting is driving me nuts. We told Tracey, an awesome super-mom of 5 kids, who’s been pregnant 13 times. She’s my information source just in case I need someone to panic to. Then after we got home last Sunday night with a sense of joy and unity we decided we should tell a few others. So we called Jake—Daddy’s buddy from Kansas whom he met in middle school. He has two kids of his own and Daddy was there for their births. I called Kathryn—my best friend from my late teens. I hope you’ll know her someday because she is the greatest. Then we told Anna, one of our best friends from St. Olaf who always used to pat my belly and say “Baby?” in a high, squeaky, silly voice. She was so excited she couldn’t get to sleep that night. I told Brian & Jordan. Hopefully you’ll know them someday too, and their miracle kids Iain and Elinor. Jordan is praying for you and me all the time. And then on Thursday we told one of our best buddies from church, a young single guy named Josh. We were going to the rock climbing wall so Daddy & Josh could climb and I said I would just watch. (I’m such a sissy!) Daddy unobtrusively dropped in “Besides, apparently such high-risk activities aren’t good for pregnant women.” Josh stopped dead in his tracks and said “Wow” about fifteen times. So that’s who knows for now, and we’re so happy to have a few people excited with us and praying for us. We’ll tell my parents in September when they come to visit and his parents after that.

So my mind is in September all the time, as if somehow I’ll have arrived once we can tell all our family and friends. As we were falling asleep last night I began to realize how impatient I am. I spiraled into a full-blown contemplation of what a bad mommy I’m going to be. With me as a mommy, you’re never going to learn to be in the moment. Your dad tried to talk reason into me. He told me to see the next nine months as a clock running out, not a clock waiting to start. “These are the last nine months,” he said, “that we have to be completely free to do whatever we want.” “Thanks. Please just remind me of that all the time, OK?” “I will,” he said. And then I pointed out, “It’s eight months, you know, not nine.” “Please never remind me of that again, OK?” He laughed. I laughed at him: “I’m going to be nine months pregnant and say ‘Honey! My water just broke!’ and you’ll say ‘You’re silly. That’s still not for another nine months.’”

So about that ticking clock. All my life I’ve looked forward to the next thing with anticipation and impatience as if it is my ultimate life goal. Consequently, I miss so much that happens moment to moment: I miss enjoying it because I’m dwelling on the fact that Moment B hasn’t arrived yet. “Moment B” is the story of pregnancy. Next step: Morning sickness. But then I’ll be looking forward to telling our families. And then I’ll be anxious for the end of nausea. And then I’ll be waiting until I start showing. And then I’ll be waiting until you’re born. Pretty dumb, huh? That’s what I noticed last night that made me think what a bad mommy I would be. I need to foster patience in you—patience and all the other fruit of the Spirit. The only way to do that is to exhibit it in my life so you can be like me. And not just exhibit it, but make it look attractive: I want you to want to be like me. The moral of the story is that I realized last night that I need to spend these next eight months practicing being content and happy in each moment where God has me, so that I get better at it. Here goes something.

This brings me to the other thing Daddy and I agreed on last Sunday night. There’s really not that much to do to prepare for your arrival. We could read lots and lots of books on pregnancy and birth and parenting, but half of what we read would be full of worldly wisdom and half of it would probably make us worry a lot. We feel ready to be parents when it comes to the physical stuff. We know what it’s like to do tough stuff, to lose sleep, to give up our own desires for other people, and we’re both good with kids and multi-tasking. I can’t wait to put the things I know into practice—swaddling you, calming you, teaching you, bathing you. (Breastfeeding you is freakin’ me out a little, not gonna lie.) We also don’t have a lot to do to get your environment ready. You’ll fit into our teeny-tiny apartment with just a portable crib and a little changing pad for the top of the dresser. We won’t be able to afford or fit much more. So aside from finding a car seat to fit into the back of Daddy’s tiny car, there’s not much to do on that front. So what’s left? We want you to love Jesus and to learn to live for Him. We want to be diligent in training you to follow Him. But the only way we’ll be successful in that is if we’re good at it ourselves. We’re not that good at it, lately. So we decided that the number one priority for these next months before you arrive is to grow in our walk with God.

I was thinking about that in church this morning as we sang “Jesus Paid It All.” The last verse has always sent chills down my spine: “And when before the throne I stand in Him complete, ‘Jesus died my soul to save!’ my lips shall still repeat.” I’d been thinking about how sinful I am, and how slow to grow in grace. Of course it’s just a baby step from there to “I’m going to be a bad mommy!!!!” When we sang that hymn my perspective changed. I was grinning ear-to-ear, almost involuntarily, at the amazing story of the gospel. Jesus can handle my sinfulness and stubbornness. Then I thought: “The most important thing I have to teach our children is to love to worship, and to be joyful because the gospel is great enough to cover their sin.”

So, my very own baby… Live in the moment, be patient, follow Jesus with all your heart, worship Him every chance you get, be excited about the gospel, and look forward to when you get to meet Jesus face to face. And come meet us first so we can try to show you how it’s done.

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