For example, I hoped but did not expect that I would be able to wear these shoes a month before my due date.
I did not expect my very small workplace to throw me a big baby shower in a room with two decorated Christmas trees and a roaring fire. What a nice surprise!
And regarding the next few weeks, we are trying not to have too many specific expectations about how labor, delivery, and birth will go. I hope to have a natural birth with no complications, but only so much of that is within my control. I know that birth stories are usually full of surprises, and I don't want to be too disappointed or hard on myself if things don't go exactly as we had envisioned.
Also, we are trying not to have strict expectations about what Nux Gallica will be like when she comes home with us. She could be quiet or operatic, shy or playful, picture-perfect or covered in baby acne and weird birthmarks. (You can't tell from ultrasounds!) When she gets older, she could be a studious intellectual or a social butterfly, a girlie pink princess or a GI Jane, an artistic spirit or a computer nerd. Or she could be a little of all those things, or she could have qualities we haven't imagined.
Instead of expecting certain things, we are trying to hope that she will be as healthy and as happy as she can be--however she needs to be.
The minister of the church where I work (who helped throw the baby shower and gave me the most adorable hand-embroidered onesie) recently gave a sermon on the topic of hope as opposed to optimism. She used an excerpt from Taking Pictures of God by Bruce T. Marshall:
Optimism, as I understand it, is an attitude of expectationI like that distinction. It frees us from the burdens of perfectionism and gives us an alternative to either optimism or pessimism: a constructive, realistic open-mindedness that is difficult to disappoint.
that a particular result will occur –
that a person will recover from an illness,
that we will achieve a specific goal,
that the Publishers Clearing House will pick my number
from among the billions submitted.
The dictionary defines optimism as
“an inclination to anticipate the best possible outcome.”
Hope is less specific.
It’s an attitude that looks for possibility
in whatever life deals us.
Hope does not anticipate a particular outcome
but keeps before us the possibility
that something useful will come from this.
One of the baby shower gifts symbolized this concept nicely. A coworker (who is on sabbatical, but still sent gifts!) gave me this set of baby socks from a crafts gallery in town called Mackerel Sky. None of the multicolored knit socks match each other, but they all go nicely together. And they come in a five-pack, so they cannot be neatly paired. And all of them are beautiful, soft, warm, and wonderful!
Even before she is born, Nux Gallica has brought us many blessings. Mr. G and I feel closer than ever as we share the experience of pregnancy. Family, friends, and coworkers have already shown us a lot of love and support. And on a basic, physical level, the hormonal benefits of pregnancy before the age of 30 have already done their work to reduce my lifetime risk of various cancers and other diseases. Thanks for that, Baby G!
My belly has dropped down low, and Nux Gallica will be considered full-term starting the day after Christmas. She could stay put as late as the end of January, but we have truly entered the phase of "you just never know."
Today, I packed a bag for the hospital with a change of clothes for Mom, Dad, and Baby. I don't know when I will go into labor, what it will be like, or how it will be to finally meet our first child. But I hope that whatever happens, I will be able to appreciate and grow from all the new experiences to come.