In the beginning, I didn't think too much about being pregnant during this pandemic. The severity of the pandemic was changing daily, if not hourly, and the many consequences and parameters now set in place were not yet part of our lives. Quickly though, the rules associated with quarantining and sheltering in place became more explicit, and the days stretched into weeks, and then months.
It was earlier on, at the height of the daily news briefings, that a new realization started to sink in for me. There wouldn't be a trip home to show off my belly and accept a few days of doting from my parents and sisters. I was thinking about when I came home to see my family during my first pregnancy - my dad, adjusting the pillows on the couch as I napped, mom taking me shopping for my first maternity clothes so I'd be more comfortable. Gestures they would likely do anyway, but being pregnant and back home in my parent's house for the first time, they seemed more significant.
And more recently, I keep pestering my little sister about when she will be finished with a sewing project she is going for me. What she doesn't realize though, is the reason for the urgency. I keep thinking about when I receive the package, and how I will be able to touch the fabric she had touched before me. I honest to god think about it all the time. I picture myself smoothing my hand over the drapes she sewed, and it makes me feel closer to her. And I wish I could see my older sister. I wish I could hug her and let her know that I worry about her, living in a new state, not yet able to meet new friends or get a real feel for her town.
Now, I prepare for the fact that my parents won't be able to fly across the country to see us when the baby is born - at least not safely, and certainly not without worry. But it hasn't been until recently that I feel an intense sadness - grief almost - when I consider it. Part of the sadness and panic relates to just how helpful they were when my son was born, and adjusting the plans and expectations we had all mapped out for the birth of my daughter. I'd had a very difficult recovery from the birth of my son. My mom essentially gained a newborn in me during those two weeks postpartum that she and my dad were staying with us. When my husband was busy attending to our son, it was my mom who helped me down to and up from the toilet, and in and out of the shower, wrapping my shocked and swollen body in its towel and helping me lift one leg at a time into my clothes to dress. It was my dad, tenderly arranging ice packs on my feet after I waddled, exhausted to the couch, and it was him who rubbed my back at the dinner table as I fought through fever chills and pain.
The other part though - the larger, more looming part is the unanswerable.
I have the answers to the tactical. I know my husband will take care of me. He is inexplicably calm, resilient and focused when things are challenging. Despite his bravado, his tender heart is as big as his personality - and he will keep our ship on course. And I already know it will be 4 months later when he will finally allow his body to catch up on sleep, and his mind to rest. It breaks my heart, the sacrifices he will make. Breaks it, but in a good way. I also know our son's nanny will provide help and assistance to us that we will never be able to replicate or reproduce on the same level for her. We will hug her goodbye at night, close the door and shake our heads - how did we get so lucky? How can we ever extend back the same level of assistance and kindness she has given us? And I also know - at least I have to believe- that this time will be easier. That my mind and body are more prepared for what's to come.
So. It's the questions I don't have answers to that cause an instant, physical reflex, the kind right before a cry. My nose scrunches, my eyes squeeze shut and my throat closes briefly.
When will my parents meet my daughter? When will they see my son again?
Will they have the chance to develop a relationship with my children, like they do with my nephews who share the same coastline as them?
I don't know.
Some nights, while my husband sits with my son in his room as he falls asleep, I'll push the screen door open and shuffle out to the back yard. I take a deep breath in, and stare across the valley and up into the twilight sky. I whisper into the air: I miss you. I miss you, I miss you. I. MISS.YOU. I miss you.
And for a brief moment, I feel a cathartic sense of calm float over me. Another day has come to an end. Another day closer to giving birth. Another day with more insight into vaccines and restrictions lifted. Another day to come.