One last stroll with Mom before I become a mom myself.
Oh, hey there Randi from 8 years ago. I was hoping I'd catch you now - 8:30pm, April 13th. You just had your first contraction, right? Right there in the middle of the fantastic pizza restaurant down the street from your Brooklyn apartment, slouched in the booth while your mom and husband chatted, absolutely oblivious to your terror.
It's OK - sneak a sip of that wine. Ignore the woman shooting you daggers; she doesn't know your midwife suggested a half a glass of wine here and there, ever since you called her on your due date and all ten days since then, convinced you were in labor.
But you weren't in labor, were you?
Nope. Now that you know what it really feels like, that all seems so silly now.
But listen. I'm not here to scare you. In fact, I'm here for the opposite reason.
There are going to come some low moments in the next 11 hours. Times when you experience actual tunnel vision, the pain tearing through your soul, making you question what the hell you're doing. There will be times you swear you are dying. Times you can't even breathe - even though everyone is begging you to. Times you can't look anyone in the eye because of the loathing you feel for them, the jealousy of their bodies' comfort.
During those moments, you will be afraid. Afraid that you can't survive the pain getting any worse, even though you know the pain is supposed to get worse and worse and worse. But also fear of this baby. Who is he or she? Is this baby going to be healthy? Will it survive?
But more than that - will you be worthy of this baby? Will you be a terrible mother? Will you have no idea what you're doing? Will you worry that bringing a baby into this world as a flawed and messed up human being was a terrible mistake?
Take a sip of that wine. Take a bite of that delicious pizza. No really. For me. I miss that pizza.
It's going to be OK. It's going to be more than OK.
I hate to ruin the surprise, but that baby is a girl. You're going to name her Stella, and she will rip open your heart and multiply its capacity by infinity. She is going to teach you things about this world - about how wonderful it is, about how lovable all its creatures - yes all of them - are. She's going to create art that is simultaneously sophisticated and innocent. She's going to need your support and encouragement and so much love, and then she's going to give it back triple fold. She's going to be just like you one minute and your polar opposite the next.
Tomorrow morning, she'll burst forth and you'll hold her in your arms.
And tomorrow morning, I'll sneak in on my way out to work and tell my 8 year old daughter "happy birthday."
This age - right now - is a miracle. She's so tall, people often assume she's 9 or 10. And then she opens her mouth and the most child-like, sweet words come out - devoid of sarcasm or any jadedness.
The other night, she said, "Mommy, I love my legs so much! They are strong and they take me lots of places and they let me jump and dance!" She has received not even one message from the world that she's supposed to hate her legs - not one! She doesn't look at herself to find flaws, she marvels at herself - as well she should.
She wants us to come to her school, she shows us off to her friends. She sits on our laps and hugs us unabashedly. She writes books about characters she created - The Friskies - part cat, part girl, a band of friends who fight to make the world a better place. She plays with her two year old brother with great care and affection, never complaining that he's too little or that the play is boring. She sits and reads for hours in her room, absorbed in other worlds, her little legs criss-cross applesauce.
She wears her slippers every single night in the 5 minutes after she gets into her PJ's and before she gets tucked in.
She still wants a story before bed. She likes a little honey in her cereal. She giggles fanatically if the cat or dog decides to sit in her lap.
She can talk for hours on topics as little as paint colors and as huge as God. Sometimes, before bed, she'll cradle my head into her arm, as if she is the mother and I am the child.
She is magical.
Oops. I guess I ruined the surprise. But I figured a glimpse into a peaceful, calm, pain-free, wonderful future might help you out a bit.
Take one more sip of wine. You're going to love motherhood.