I am being waited on hand-and-foot and it’s driving me nuts.
Yesterday my father-in-law (Madeline’s Pop) came by and brought us lunch. He also mailed letters for me and played with Madeline. He was planning on taking her out to the playground or for some other outdoor adventure, but she wanted nothing of it. She may only be 2-and-a-half, but she’s got a sixth sense and knows something is up and wants Mommy in sight at all times. She also seems resistant to others serving her. Pop tried to get her to use the potty and change her diaper, but she demanded, “Mommy do it.”
Even before my helpers arrived yesterday, she started crying, saying, “Mommy, no go bye-bye. Mommy stay with me.” Then she lifted her arms and begged to be picked up. I’m not supposed to be picking things up, including 30-pound toddler packages, so I knelt on the ground and told her to crawl into my arms. She ran to me and I cradled her and rocked back and forth, feeling like a big mommy loser. I can’t take care of her the way I need to and my stupid cervix has a mind of its own and is opening up before my second child is ready for the world, so neither of my children are being “served” the way they should be.
On top of this perhaps unwarranted but very real mommy guilt, while a lot of people might enjoy others unloading the dishwasher for them or serving them food or changing bed sheets, I hate having all these servile assistants around. Don’t get me wrong: I really appreciate everyone’s kindness and I know I need them to be here, helping out with the day-to-day care of Madeline or managing a household, but I don’t like to be in the wings while everyone else is making the show happen. I’m no good at being served. Like the disciples, I suspect I’d really balk at Jesus washing my feet. I’m not particularly skilled at humbling myself, or asking for or accepting help. I’ve always felt more comfortable being a one-woman band. Given the circumstances, I also feel like I can’t breakdown and just cry – whether it’s about the loss of my grandpa last weekend, worries over my growing baby or the fact that the nursery resembles a war zone with baby clothes strewn all over and no sense of order. With Madeline, I had everything ready at about 30 weeks gestation. People laughed at how anal I was, but I was pleased with myself and my tidy, little nest. That’s how I work. I do not like to procrastinate. I tried to be more laid-back this time around and now I’m cursing myself, “Look what happened!” My hospital bag isn’t even completely packed and I could be in the throngs of active labor at any minute. Nana offered to start packing it, but who wants their mom-in-law, no matter how close you are to her, going through their underwear drawer?
Then I get sad because I’d planned on spending lots of one-on-one time with Madeline before our twosome became a threesome. I imagined trips to the park, lots of wiggly dancing together and baking fresh bread side-by-side in the kitchen. Now I recline on the couch while she watches Elmo or Peter Pan. But the irony is she’s content just having me there so long as I am happy and feeling well.
Yesterday I sat up at one point and she immediately admonished, “Lay down, Mommy! Mommy supposed to lay down!” (She must have heard my husband telling me the previous night that I really had to stop getting up and down and needed to lie down.) Then she climbed onto the couch me and folded into me, so that we were spooning and I could feel her warmth against my body and smell the sweetness of her hair and skin. “Mommy, feel better?” she asked. How could I not? Anyone who says toddlers are solipsistic creatures should see the concern in Madeline’s brown eyes as she turned away from Elmo and looked at her mommy. The world, these days, does not revolve around her; it revolves around her mommy and she wants to make sure it’s as safe as possible.
And so does everyone else. My in-laws have been unbelievable, selflessly serving a reluctant recipient. My younger brother Josh drove out last night to bring me several chick flicks from his vast movie collection. My mom has been calling repeatedly to check in. Friends have been emailing asking if they can do anything. And then there’s my knight in shining armor – Dave – who’s been at my beck and call whenever he’s not stuck in a reading room at the hospital.
Speaking of which, you’ll have to forgive the above cheesy knight allusion, but I’m feeling a tad sappy. Not only are pregnancy hormones falling through my body like a progesterone and estrogen laden Niagara Falls, but today is Dave and my fifth anniversary. Obviously, we won’t be sharing anything but conversation and cuddling between the sheets, but I’m looking forward to just having him beside me. We’re old, married farts now, completely at ease with one another. He’s been so supportive through my mourning process over my papa and with the baby. He didn’t get home from work until after 10:30 p.m. last night; yet, he took out the trash, tidied up the kitchen, ran his long fingers through my hair and helped lure our little insomniac back to bed (yes, our sleep struggles continue). That’s what true love is all about – putting another’s needs first even when you’d rather be the one on bed rest. I know he could use some more downtime in his life.
So even though I’m already really antsy (how do preggos do it who are put on bed rest for months?) and stuck between wanting to meet our baby yet wanting her to hibernate a little longer all at the same time, I am infinitely thankful for the amazing web of friends and family members who are holding me up during this waiting period. I am also ready to humble myself and to let others serve me. Just as Jesus taught the disciples how to serve others with love and humility by washing their feet (“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14), this brief period of bed rest is sure to help me to better serve out growing family. God knows,in his supreme wisdom, that I’ll soon be the one washing some peanut feet and ministering to an infant hungry for constant, love, attention and of course, ounce after ounce of milk fresh from the boob.