And what a stretch it is. I feel like I can’t get any bigger, but I know that I have another month(ish) to put on my body (at least). Things seem to be progressing smoothly. Time moves so strangely here at the end of a pregnancy. There’s a feeling of having been pregnant forever (since before R broke her foot last summer). In the same space, though, is the overwhelming sensation of this new baby just falling into our laps. I feel like we’re all just beginning to get a feel for one another in this pregnancy, and here we are almost through it. I’m throwing lots of self-care and bodywork at this last month or so: chiropractic; prenatal yoga; extra supplements; 4x daily glucose monitoring; better diet; more sleep. We’re very hopeful that all of this intentionality might translate into a more efficient labor and delivery than was our experience with B. As we know so well, though, there are no guarantees in life (or birth), so we’re also preparing ourselves to be as open and adaptive as possible (something that I think R has spent more time mastering in recent years). I still leave claw marks on the plans I let go of.
We’re down to the final touches of preparing to bring this baby dragon home: stripping the newborn cloth diapers; re-installing the baby bucket seat (once our poor car is finished in the autobody shop); packing a hospital bag; completing a few organizational projects around the house. Really, though, that’s about it. We’re finally at that stage where we could birth and bring him home at any point. After all, Saul was born less than one week’s gestation from right now, and he was discharged less than 48 hours postpartum. That’s of comfort to me when my contractions get going for a few hours at a time, or when the umpteenth person asks if I’m past my due date yet.
And Bram is so very ready to meet his baby brother. I’m sure he’ll be much more ambivalent once the baby is on the outside making lots of noise and demanding lots of attention. But, for now, Dragon is always top-of-mind for B. He loves to sing him songs and tell him stories, to give the belly big hugs and kisses, and to play little games that seem to just be between the two of them. And my rockstar wife has been amazing, both in bonding with this baby given our family’s hectic schedule and crazy time constraints right now, but also in taking care of me consummately and helping me to take care of B, as well. Even though she’s home with him full-time, she recognizes how challenging it can be for me to come home from work and be on-point with a toddler in the evenings and weekends, so she’s been giving me lots of help and encouragement and (sometimes) space to do what I feel like I can right now.
For his part, Bram is amazing. He’s constantly talking and playing his instruments and singing songs and running and climbing on things and going going going from the very second he wakes up until the moment his eyes close for nap and bedtime. He’s like a whirling dervish of life force, which, while completely exhausting most days, is something I wouldn’t trade the world for (including for more sleep). And for all of his energy, he still loves to snuggle and he has a huge and whet attention span for long and involved narratives. I love when we can just sit and get totally lost in a story together. Some of his favorites right now are the original Winnie the Pooh stories (how very weird those are), Colors of the Wind (which is a pretty heady children’s biography of Vincent VanGogh), and Voyage to the Bunny Planet (which he now has almost totally memorized and will recite at random intervals). But I would say that we easily cruise through a hundred books a week (many on heavy rotation). I love this side of him.
On the other side of toddler news, though, Bram had his first m.e.l.t.d.o.w.n. when I was home alone with him last night (R was teaching). R’s seen a few of these by virtue of being home so much more with him (especially around naptime), but this was my first introduction to him absolutely losing his shit. He’s usually the kind of kid who, when upset, can be easily rerouted with a few simple questions (“would you like to hear your options?” or “Bram, can you stop crying long enough for me to ask you a question?”) or a little distraction (“let’s look outside the window” or “where do you think Iris might be hiding?”). So we’ve been lucky in not having to develop much in the way of coping skills for true tantrums. Last night after bath and pajamas, though, B wanted to sit on the potty (he’s been doing a great job of pottying about a quarter of the time during the day, mostly unsolicited – we’re happy with gradual progress). We read three books and had made a deal that after the last book we would put his night diaper back on and go rock in the rocking chair. Surprisingly, our “deals” often work out just fine. But this time, when I declared that we were all done with books, he just fell apart. He went running away from me diaperless with his pants around his ankles, threw himself to the ground in his room, was kicking and biting hysterically while I tried to wrangle a diaper onto him. I finally had to leave the room for ten seconds so that I could collect myself and not raise my voice. We eventually worked it out and I got him to sleep within about 45 minutes of the whole episode. Still, it was hard to see him so upset and so out of sorts. At one point, he was crawling away from me shrieking on hands and knees trying to curl up in the corner of his bedroom like a little frightened animal :-( Since he’s never heard either of us yell, and he’s certainly never had anyone lay a finger on him in anger, it was hard to see him look so scared. I think he was scared of his own big conflicting emotions. And I can totally relate, little dude, as feelings can be oh-so confusing.
But then he woke up in his usual fashion this morning, rolling between R and me to say “Hi!” and “I love you!” and to give slobbery good morning kisses all around. And the whirling dervish begins anew.