Monday, April 23, 2012

Baby Fever

My little niece having cake!
Babies are messy. I know it. Screaming in the middle of the night (or the middle of the grocery store). Diaper changes. Spitting up. Toys and baby gear everywhere. And when they're old enough to eat solid food -- food everywhere (spaghetti will be fun. And obviously I've seen what they can do with a piece of cake!) It doesn't matter. Babies are cute. I love them. I'm anxious for mine. It won't be long now (due in July!)

It's so strange because most of my life I thought I didn't want kids. When I used to hear an infant wailing in a supermarket I'd cringe and think "Thank God that's not me!" Now I smile lovingly, get a warm feeling in my chest (then again it might be the heartburn!) and think "I can't wait for my own!"

It's like a switch has gone off in my brain since finding out I was pregnant. I'm in Mommy mode. It's hard to imagine now that I wasn't always in this mode. There were fleeting moments when a baby would look at me and smile that I'd feel a small twinge in my heart but not enough to make me want any. I just couldn't go there in my mind. Obviously it was meant to be. I was just a bit of a late bloomer which is only fitting because I have been in everything else. I didn't move out until my late 30s. My sexual peak didn't hit until my 40s. In my teens and 20s I wasn't happy with myself, wasn't comfortable in my own skin. It took a long time for me to reach the point where I felt vibrant and beautiful and open to experience life and its pleasures fully. Most women catch baby fever much younger. They can't wait to start a family. It's one of the things that rushes them to the altar. (I never really got wedding fever, then again I  never met Mr. Right, aka "the one," my soulmate. I met some pretty good imposters, but their true colours would always show long before any engagement ring appeared.) At the rate I was going, I couldn't see me ever getting married or having kids. And I was OK with that. I was just happy to reach a point in my life where I felt good about myself, physically and spiritually. I saw life as a beautiful adventure. I wanted to fall in love, travel, experience life to its fullest. The plan was to eventually relocate to a tropical paradise. I wanted to travel light. I drove a car with two seats and no trunk space. Babies weren't on my radar whatsoever. Not in my wildest dreams.

With my little nephew
People were skeptical when I told them I didn't want children. Especially when they would watch me holding their babies "Doesn't it make you want your own?" they would ask, incredulously. At the time though, it really didn't, "Not even one little bit," I replied smugly. Sure babies were cute and all and it was nice holding them, but I liked handing them back. Nice to visit but I didn't want to live there. I was relieved that I didn't have to hear them screaming at night and change their pea-soup ridden diapers every day. My time was my own. I was free. I could sleep in. Without an adorable little dictator controlling my life. Little did I know. The switch hadn't gone off yet. The switch wouldn't go off until the Fall of 2011 when I was 42 years old and dating a younger (and extremely fertile apparently!) man. Yes it took a scorpion, a balloon and a strange twist of fate to change my mind, my body, and life as I knew it, forever (please read my first blog post -- "Expecting Unexpectedly: My Story Begins" if you haven't yet and are curious how I suddenly found myself pregnant in November of last year.)

Apparently, I would learn later that another scorpion (aside from the one that knocked me up) may have played a role in the whole get-Ann-Marie-unexpectedly-pregnant scheme. My mother, also a Scorpio, told me that she had been praying every night that I would never regret my decision not to have a baby. What?! Mother! Really? Can you please consult me before you have discussions about MY life and reproductive system with the Big Guy?! And if you have that much pull can you maybe say a prayer for me like -- "Please God don't let Ann Marie regret that she never won millions in the lottery?!" Because let me tell you, $30 million would come in handy right about now! It seems that my mother's baby prayers for me were answered in a rather dramatic way. It was, quite tellingly, only a few days after Mom's November birthday that I was "late" and took a pregnancy test to find that YES I was quite pregnant. I guess I know what she wished when she blew out her candles! Thanks, Mom! What have you gotten me into?!

Now I have babies on the brain. Everytime I see one, giggling and cooing on TV, smiling in a magazine ad, sleeping cherub-like on an Anne Geddes card or calendar, or out and about beckoning me from strollers, from mothers' arms, or those irresistible little kangaroo pouches (my sister gave me one -- a "Snugli" -- because the idea of carrying my child like a marsupial is beyond adorable) I'm smitten. Yes I've been hit by a case of full blown Baby Fever! Just a glimpse of a baby and I can't help but smile, experience a pang of longing, an uncontrollable wave of affection and start to tear up a little in anticipation of my own little one. Baby strollers are like magnets to me now. I'm drawn to them. The other day in frozen foods I saw a couple with a newborn, six weeks old. So tiny. So precious. They had a little flower band on her head. She was sleeping like a cherub. "Don't let her fool you," the mother said, "she was screaming 20 minutes ago." It doesn't matter. Babies are perfect. Even when they're devils, they're angels.

Of course, it's not going to be easy. It's going to be a HUGE adjustment for me. My life and my body are no longer my own. There are a lot of things I have to figure out and get used to. Even working the stroller and carseat. My sister is a pro. She has the stroller folded up and in the trunk like magic, my nephew strapped in and secure in the carseat in seconds. Whenever I tried to do it I fumbled and couldn't figure it out and had to let my sister take over. Of course she's had years of practice with her 3 kids. I'm a newbie. I'll learn and it'll become second nature to me too.

One day while I was unloading groceries, I suddenly wondered how I would manage grocery shopping with a baby. I couldn't bring the stroller into the store AND push a cart but the shopping carts don't seem to be made to secure a baby seat in...So what do Moms do? I couldn't picture it. I guess I won't know until I try. When I think back to times I've seen moms shopping with babies, they usually have backup, Dad or Grandma or a friend to push the cart while mom has the stroller. But moms must go shopping alone, especially single Moms. I'll have to pay more attention...and take notes! Actually I have heard that carseats will fit in the basket part of a shopping cart somehow. Having never done it, I just don't see how.

I know that sleeping in will likely be a thing of the past unless baby sticks to her prenatal schedule (based on when she's most active in utero). So far it seems she sleeps through the morning and gets lively in the late afternoon and late at night. Just like her Mama! I know that my schedule will revolve around her for the first while. I'll be up when she's up and grab naps when she sleeps I guess. I asked a couple of mothers how they could tell the difference when a baby cries whether she's hungry, or needs to be changed or something else. "You just know" seemed to be the consensus. It wasn't very comforting. I guess it's an instinct you develop. As a Mom you have a knack for knowing what your baby needs. You can detect a subtle difference in the sort of cries that come from being hungry or being wet. And there's always trial and error. See what works. I'm hoping I can sing my baby to sleep and she will be peaceful until morning...Sure. I can dream! For the first six months I don't imagine I'll  get much sleep as I'll be breastfeeding and have to feed every few hours. I'm hoping that the feeding goes well. I've heard it can be very tricky in the beginning, but once you and baby get the hang of it, it comes naturally. Hopefully it doesn't hurt too much. Quite a few women warned me that they had problems and had to give up and go to the bottle. I'm going to try not to stress about it. My sister never had a problem with her kids. It is natural. I can tell my breasts are already getting ready for milk production! And frankly being on a tight budget, being able to feed the baby without having to buy formula would be a huge help. If I could score some free diapers too I'd be all set!
In his Hawaiian shirt from Aunt Ann Marie!
I always used to think that having a child would put the rest of your life on hold, that you wouldn't be able to do the things you used to. While this may be the case to some degree, a lot of the things I love I can still do with baby in tow. I will still go to the beach. It never stopped my sister. I'll just have to find shade for the baby. I'll probably get one of those magical little fold up round tents that pops open in one second and then folds up again (though usually not as easily) to put back in the bag. My sister used those when we headed to the beach with my little nephew. I may not be able to wear my old bikinis right away but I can still rock a tankini and sarong and enjoy the sunshine, the sand, the waves. And when the baby is older it will be fun to build sandcastles with her. I can still go for walks, go shopping, to the movies, excursions, anywhere I used to, just with a little more baggage now -- a diaper bag and stroller.

Baby will be here before I know it! The time has flown since November. April is almost over now. I'm days away from my third trimester. It's hard to believe. In some ways, I'm frightened -- of labour and of taking care of the baby. Newborns are so delicate. Will I be OK? Will I know what I'm doing? It will be OK. Every Mom is a first time Mom at some point. You learn as you go. I will be a pro soon enough. And I will have a couple of pros to give me pointers -- my Mom and my sister. When I get back home alone and it's just baby and me, it may be scary at first. (Not that having her dad around would have really helped. He was far less prepared for parenting than I was. He was just a big kid himself. Mischievous and completely irresponsible.) Fears aside, I'm excited about meeting my little angel. I can't wait for that new baby smell (even more intoxicating than the new car smell!) -- soft, powdery, fresh, clean, innocent. The tiny little fingers and toes. Little cherub cheeks. Holding her, singing her to sleep. Dressing her in adorable little outfits. And I won't panic if I need advice. Help is always a phone call away. I will cherish the time alone with my baby. She will be my world and I will be hers. Someday we may meet someone wonderful to join our little family, but until then we will do just fine on our own. It's a rollercoaster (and I always loved those!) -- a mixture of fear and excitement. You're so scared that you may ask yourself why you got on this wild ride but then you feel so alive, so exhilarated that you realize it's worth it.

I never imagined this but now I can't imagine life any other way. I see it as such a gift, such a blessing at this stage in my life to be embarking on my greatest adventure. I feel stronger and happier than ever. You think you know who you are until something happens to change your perspective and you see what you can become. You think you know what you want until you make a detour and discover your true destiny is nothing like you planned, but so much better. Never say never. I'm not saying that all women are meant to be mothers or would all want to. I'm just saying that for me, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I was SO CERTAIN I didn't want kids! Yet now I know in my heart and soul that this was meant to be. God knew what I wanted and needed better than I knew myself. I always knew that I needed love and beauty in my life, I just didn't know the form that it would take: That it would be my baby.

Embracing my new curves

Worth giving up my old tummy for a while

It's still sort of surreal to me that this is happening. It's magical. A miracle. My own baby. Part of me. Will she be like me? 
Me as a baby
Will she want to dance ballet (It was my dream as a child but my parents couldn't afford lessons. I'll take out a second mortgage or get 3 jobs if I have to but if she wants them she is definitely getting lessons!) Will she love to sing? Will she be artistic? I hope so but I won't impose my dreams on her. Whatever she wants to do I will encourage her. A baby is full of hope and possibility. So exciting to have a new life starting. This is like nothing I've ever done before. What I used to think of as my babies -- the pets I loved, the songs I wrote, the CD I put out, poems I published, paintings I created -- nothing compares to this. I also loved gardening -- planting and watching things grow and evolve, blooming in spring like a living painting. This baby will be my masterpiece, my greatest creation, my most beautiful flower. The most important thing I have brought into this world. A child. A new life. A person. What a massive (terrifying) responsibility! What an extraordinary, miraculous gift. It wasn't something I ever dared to wish for myself. I certainly didn't expect it now. I would have thought it was too late. It feels like I've been given a second chance to be a 20 year old. I feel like a young woman whose life is just beginning. The baby will keep me young!

This baby means the world to me. She is worth the changes and sacrifices I have to make. I would do anything for her. I was inspired to write this song for her, "Everything I do is for you." It's the latest in a playlist of my original songs that I've written for her so far. (A singer-songwriter I've written hundreds of songs. My baby is my muse now. I plan to write many more songs and lullabies for her.)

I didn't know I wanted a baby. I only knew that I wanted my life to be beautiful and extraordinary. Wanted to find my true love, a love that would endure forever, someone to share the rest of my life with, someone to love, laugh, learn and grow with. I wanted life to be an amazing adventure. Wanted to create something unique, to do something daring that I'd never attempted, to live life to the fullest. Well, it looks like I got my wish...


  1. Beyond song & poetry, your greatest creation your baby. Beautifully written blog. Thanks.

  2. Take it from a Single Mama, shopping with a baby is not easy...but it's not hard either. I preferred grocery stores that had the 2 tier carts, then the car seat fit nicely sideways on the top tier & groceries on the bottom...the regular carts (like the one you pictured) are more challenging since, yes the car seat fits in the basket but takes up most the space leaving very little room for actual groceries!

    You'll surprise yourself how creative you'll get in order to get things done!

    1. Maybe I should do a dry run before the baby to make sure I can get the seat in there securely. Though I guess I'd look pretty crazy putting a child seat in a cart with no baby in it! I don't want to be fumbling with the baby in the seat though. Will learn as I go I guess, with most things! :)

  3. Another amazing blog!! Don't forget something else you can still do after the baby has come...write!! You should get some of these blogs to baby publications, let them see your work!! Even Shannon read this one with me. I'm sure your audience will keep growing!

    Love May

    1. Thank you! Yes I will keep writing after the baby (when I can steal some time between feedings and naps!) I'd love to write a book someday. Will see. That's great that Shannon read it too! Love you guys! See you soon! :)
      Ann Marie