(written November 2001; published November 2017 in honor of Daniel's 16th birthday)
You are not yet born. In silence you squirm and wiggle, long since too cramped to kick and punch anymore. In darkness I think of you, sucking, sleeping.
Your father says “good morning” to you in the sleepy half-waking time after the alarm goes off. We have waited for your first movements of the day every day since the first time you woke up with us.
Your name will be . . . IS . . . Daniel, although that is one last delicious secret that your father and you and I share. No one knows but the three of us, and you won’t tell.
It is November, my favorite month now for more reasons than the rustling leaves and the colors and the crisp, cool air. I cannot wait to show you this incredibly beautiful world.
When will the baby come? People ask. I smile. He is here. Right here between us. They still think of you as impending, but you have already been Daniel for almost nine months. I feel like I have an inkling of your tiny personality, of what you will be like and how you will look, although of course I cannot know.
I love that you leap at the sound of your father’s voice when he speaks, just like my heart does when I see him coming towards us. You already love him as I do. We cannot help ourselves.
I dream at night of how you will feel against my skin, all warm and wet, a living thing sprung from my body, created in love by your father and I. Will you be quiet and wide-eyed? Startled? Or loud, protesting with vigorous lungs your abrupt and painful removal from the haven you have enjoyed so long? If I were you, I’d weep, I know.
I dream of what it will feel like, the sensations when your tiny, perfect mouth searches for and finds my breast, and of the joy that will flow from my body with the milk.
I see myself handing you to your father, who cannot contain his tears as you grasp his finger. It is love at first sight, instant and forever, and it draws the drops to our cheeks with its purity. His eyes were wet the first time he told your mother he loved her, too.
I have an idea of how empty I will feel when you are no longer folded up inside me, your little concert of movements my constant companion. You can never go home again. Like something received that comes in a tight box and never quite fits back in again the same way.
These emotions are too much for me. Ever since I stared, unbelieving, at the stick, two pink lines instead of the familiar one, my fingers have been frozen. I have not tried to write. Now, a week? A day? An hour or two? Before you come, my thoughts unthaw, and the words trip over themselves. I never could type, certainly not fast enough to keep up with what pours from me now.
My arms ache to hold you. The rubber dolls in the baby care class received what I would have lavished on you if you had been there to practice your bath time. The end of class: do we have any questions about parenting? I have to work hard not to laugh, though I do smile. How can you cram “parenting” into three hours? We will just have to learn together, you and us.
Somehow I think we will be just fine.