Happy 34th Womb Week, sweet love. You’re about 5 pounds and about 17-18 inches long. All five of your senses are rarin’ to go, and you’ve got your own immune system. You’re doing all kinds of dances in my belly (right now, in fact, I imagine you turning somersaults based on how it feels and looks), and I’ve felt you hiccup multiple times. A few weeks ago, your Mema, Pops, and Zia Leah all felt those hiccups and got the biggest kick out of them. You also got them during our baby shower last week, and everyone stepped up to feel them. I felt like the Buddha, everyone laying their hands on my holy belly.
As for me, well, my feet and ankles look like an elephant’s, I’m experiencing carpal tunnel for the first time in my life, the breath is definitely a little shorter recently, every movement seems to take longer, and I’m so exhausted I’m basically useless as a human being. Your Mama is working very hard to grow you, and it takes a lot of effort that used to be used for things like, well, thinking and attempting to move with grace. These praying mantis limbs are a whole new level of awkward these days, and I’m pretty sure my hands are incapable of holding small objects without dropping them. Other than all that, doing great!
We recently celebrated your Mema and Pops’ 39th anniversary by renting a pontoon boat. Although I continually focus on enjoying the present and connecting with gratitude in the moment, that event was one big ball of that. As we took turns captaining the pontoon, swimming in beautiful and quiet Seneca Lake, laughing with each other, and laughing at your Papa’s dance moves (he had been waiting all month for our “Boat Day!!!!!” and was like a little kid with his adventurer hat on) and laughing at my feet – so puffy they jiggle when I walk or when Zia Leah pokes them, which she did throughout the day – I kept thinking, “Wow. This really is as good as it gets. This is what it’s all about. We are so freaking lucky.”
We are. We are so freaking lucky.
I’ve already shared some stories about your great grandmothers, at least the ones on my side of the family tree. As I wrote to you then, you’ll be born into a strong line of women. The rest of this letter is a window into the spirits of your grandmothers.
First, your Grandma Kathy. I only had the honor of spending a handful of days with her, and I will be forever thankful beyond comprehension for them. I met her about a month after your Papa proposed, and it wasn’t even awkward. Imagine that! A true testament to her. She was warm, welcoming, and curious to learn more about this woman whom her son had, over the course of a mere nine weeks, fallen in love with and decided he just had to marry. She made a delicious lunch, complete with some kind of perfect fruit tart/cake for dessert.
Your Grandma Kathy loved to cook and bake, especially in her later years, and she even kept a blog, Bakeaway with Me, that, miraculously, remains accessible. I pray to the Internet Powers That Be that it always will be, so that you can hear your Papa’s family stories in her words. She was the keeper of those family stories. Someday you’ll be able to see the photo that introduced me to her and the rest of the Van Bruinisse family.
Your Mema, Pops, and Zia Leah met her and your Grandpa Bill a few months after that, when we all had dinner together in New York City. I will forever be grateful for that evening, as it was the only occasion we all spent together. Your Papa and I spent Thanksgiving with her and saw her again at Christmas, then again in February. She passed away in March, about five months before our wedding.
She will forever be part of you, sweet girl – her strength and determination, her love for her family, her graciousness and zest for life...
Then you have your Mema. TBD on the spelling there...She was going with Mima, but then realized that it might not be pronounced how we intended it (“Mee-ma”), and she’s still not sure if it should be “Meema” or “Mema"...As your Zia Leah said, you’ll probably end up calling her “Poopy Head” or something to that effect, and that’s what will stick. (Please don't call her Poopy Head.) Still, that’s your Mema for you: always thinking it out, weighing all the options, those wheels constantly spinning in her head to make sure that she’s doing her best – especially for others.
She’s a giver, your Mema. She’s thoughtful, crafty, and good at pretty much anything she attempts, be it baking, felting, or decorating a car for a parade. She comes up with a plan of attack, and she executes with precision. I dream of her helping me make – okay, making – your Halloween costumes one day, as I sure as heck won’t be able to do it in a respectable fashion. Maybe I’ll learn how to sew one of these days, but in case I don’t, you’ll have her.
Your Mema puts everyone else first. She can’t not be considerate or think about how her decisions might affect other people. She automatically does whatever she can to help or make anyone else’s life easier. Only on rare occasions does she decide not to step in – and, in those moments, we’re all grateful that she was able to say no, because she needs to take of herself, too.
She can’t wait to meet you. Have you heard her talking to you, leaning in close to my belly and giving you kisses? She loves to do that.
I have so much more that I want to share, but it took me too darn long to get this next letter out to you and the world, so I’ll wait until next time – which will be soon, I promise. Let me just end with this, which I read in a book last month:
A woman's past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear the tune, she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We're always trying to persuade ourselves of things.
Keep dancing to your music, my love, and trust it. And keep reminding me to stop talking so much and just listen to hear the tunes I need to hear, okay? Thanks.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated love at Lodi Point with our inner circle of soul family members. We lit three paper lanterns over our beloved Seneca Lake and watched them fly toward the moon, following the same path, as they magically do. I thought of you, floating slowly toward us these past few years, now floating slowly toward your birth. I've been waiting and watching, doing my best to create a safe, open sky of space that envelops you in love.
Keep soaring, little one. You're on the right path.
Love, Your Mama