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    A Letter to Our Unborn Baby

    This poorly-lit picture captures the first moment your Dadoo learned you were going to join our family.  It also captures the second time I’ve ever seen Atticus say a four-letter-word with his eyes.


    Dear Baby Beluga,

    As I type this, our bedside reference library tells me that you are ripening into the size of a lime. You’re quite the tiny literalist, because you’ve already proven to be a rather ornery citrus fruit.  I spent several hours in the ER two days in a row and will find out next week if the oozy state of my PICC line indicates infection–in which case we’ll be adding antibiotics to the cocktail of pills your freeloading has prescribed.

    Friends have told me that the debilitating nature of this pregnancy grants me a free pass for the duration of your childhood.  I think they envision my leverage will work something like this:

    Simmering tantrum after denial of grocery store Mylar balloon?
    [Ahem.] “Three trips to hospital, not including birth, one via Uber.”

    Refusal to complete 4th grade California Missions diorama, night before due date?
    [Throws shade.] “Bed rest and in-home telescoping IV pole.”

    Refusal to complete college financial aid admissions forms, night before due date?
    [Clears throat.] “Sure, but…Saltines with a side of Saltines, sprinkled with a dash of Saltines.” [Drops mike.]

    I nod my head and laugh, as if milking my current discomfort for the next 18+ years is the first thing on my mind.  It’s tempting–raised Catholic, I am well-versed in the art of the heavy-handed guilt trip. But my sweet Beluga, know this: you have done nothing wrong. In fact, you did everything right, you fetal genius, you! Your brain isn’t even fully formed yet and you still figured out how to extract vitamins from animal crackers and Jell-O. Your literalist nature is metaphorically squeezing blood from a stone.

    I know now that your Nana suffered immensely during all three of her pregnancies. Her “very close” veins weren’t engaged in turf wars, and she didn’t ask us to massage her aching legs every night because she relished the sight of her diminutive minions engaged in servile labor. Those 27 collective months took a brutal toll on her college track star body–but she only ever told me that I was a beautiful, joyful baby (oh, and that I bathed myself in poop when I was two–she told me that story a LOT).

    When I’m draped over the toilet at 3 am, my eyes and nose watering, flecks of various comestibles in my hair, it’s easy to conjure Lifetime Movie scenes of revenge in my self-pitying delirium. But, as with most kinds of pain, this is more complicated than that. You can blame someone for their ignorance, but not for their lack of agency–and, my sweet Beluga, there will be ample opportunity for you to take the rap for your brother’s glue stick antics in the coming decade.

    In this season of renewal, I let go, I accept this pain, and I acknowledge the darkly comedic and redemptively beautiful mystery of its origin. Only 193 sleeps and 193+ pukes until I get to meet you, Baby Beluga.

    Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, “you owe me.”
    Look what happens with a love like that;
    It lights the whole sky.