on expecting & expectations.

Nesting 1

A little sign for our hospital door as we get ready to welcome Baby Hammer, made from our baby shower guessing game, sweet cards from friends and family, and cardboard from my

Solly Baby wrap

box. Nesting!

“God knits babies together in the secret dark. And we can plan all we like, but we have no actual control over the outcomes. We bear witness to the miracle, and we women — we also bear it in our bodies. But we certainly don’t dictate it."

-Lisa-Jo Baker, 

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom

I actually cringe when people act like babies happen exactly when you want them to. Like you can one day decide that you want to have a baby and the next day be pregnant. Like pregnancy is something that you can time, according to what works best with your schedule and career plan. Or like you can really control the stretch marks (you get them or you don’t), pregnancy brain (perpetual spaciness), and hemorrhoids (sorry, real life).

Expecting seems like a strange word to associate with pregnancy, and life in general. When I got pregnant, we weren’t trying, and we weren’t not trying. So when people ask if it was a surprise, I say, kind of! Not a "whoops" kind of surprise, but a surprise in the sense that you hope that something good is coming, but you don't know what it is or when it will arrive, so when it actually comes, you're blown out of the water because it's better than anything you could have ever expected and you had no idea that's what it would feel like. That kind of surprise.

And there are so many surprises, because this whole growing-a-human thing is all so new.

I never expected that growing this little guy would take over my life. For us, this is literally the Year of the Baby — from the single pregnancy test that I took the first week of January, to these now eight belly-expanding months of work and physical, mental, and financial preparation, to his expected birthdate in September and the remaining months of the year where I’ll be staying home, celebrating first holidays, and learning how to be a mother. 

I never expected that I would have such a capacity to


. When I’m “nesting,” I feel like that’s all there is. Nothing else is even on my radar. This is all I want to do: pack my hospital bag, wash and sort baby clothes, make lists of pre-baby errands.

I never expected that we would attempt a natural, unmedicated birth. Prior to pregnancy, I had never practiced meditation or mindfulness. Preparing for the kind of birth that I want (and the kind that I’ll get) has led me into a deliberate lifestyle of self-education, meditation, more consistent exercise and healthy eating habits.

I never expected to be so content with less. This whole year has been about less. Less consumption (except for baby gear, which we are consciously trying to keep to a minimum), fewer plans, less clutter. I am totally ok with wearing the same 3 dresses in rotation at work because they are the only things that fit, and comfort is king. Pregnancy has triggered my need for more mental space, more quiet time, more sleep, more simplicity, more comfort, and less of everything else.

I never expected to feel so much or to feel everything so much more acutely. Pain, hurt, excitement, bliss, frustration have been all-encompassing emotions for me, filling me to the brim, so that I only have room for one emotion at a time.

I never expected to lack words. I wake up sometimes, at 4 or 5am, and instinctively reach over to the journal on my nightstand. But when I open it... nothing. As soon as a thought or feeling comes, it passes. I’ve had the hardest time trying to hold on, trying to wrap my brain around these emotions and thoughts that I can’t seem to control or process. My brain has become a black hole.

I never expected to need so much grace — for my forgetfulness, my emotions, my impatience, my inability to communicate.

I never expected to be so grateful for every single day. I'm thankful for every single day that I'm still pregnant. I'm thankful for every doctor's appointment that goes well. I’m thankful for each day that I wake up to husband kisses, puppy cuddles, and baby movements. These are gifts. I know how horribly wrong life's events can go, so when I hear a little heartbeat or feel a tiny kick, I think, "Really? Life is this good? God is trusting us with this?"

Emily Dickinson wrote, “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” 

This is it. This is what I want to soak up — the anticipation, the waiting, the surrealness of it all. I want to bask in the unknown and the joy of not knowing. This time will only be new once, and I’m savoring the mystery and the miracle.