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The Last Days of Advent: Waiting in Expectation

Hello dear friends! It’s been awhile. I could offer up a myriad of reasons why I haven’t written in so long – a busy schedule of freelance projects, fall book tour travels, new apartment nesting, baby preparations – and all of it would be true. This has been a year of such major transition, personally and professionally, that I’ve barely been able to process it all – much less blog about it. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, I was trekking up and down a zillion flights of stairs, shipping out cookbook orders in time for Christmas. This year – in contrast – I’m parked on our couch in Brooklyn, swollen feet propped up, feeling too big to move!

Days away from the arrival of our baby girl, I wanted to try and put into words my thoughts and feelings as I prepare to transition into the most important role of my life: becoming a mom. The past nine months have at times felt like an eternity – so much growing (literally)! so much to do! so much waiting! so many temptations to worry! – but honestly, I think I’ve needed every bit of this time to really prepare emotionally for the life change ahead. I’ve gone through so many feelings in the process: denial, elation, doubt, fear, frustration, joy, and ultimately, surrender.

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Peering into our sweet nursery, with its miniature white crib, pink blankets, cuddly stuffed animals, and lovingly-curated library (all gifts from dear family and friends), it’s hard to believe that our daughter – the same little creature who’s kicking around inside of me at this very moment – will be sleeping in there soon. It all feels a bit surreal, but it hit me just recently what an enormous gift we are being given: a child to love, to cherish, to teach, and eventually, one day, to set free to make her own mark on the world. It seems that the surrender learned in pregnancy is excellent preparation for what lies ahead in motherhood.

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Rather than rushing through these last few weeks of pregnancy – working nonstop, checking off to-do lists, and wishing away the time until the baby arrives – I’ve actually tried to do the opposite. I wrapped up my freelance projects two weeks ago and have (maybe for the first time in my life) taken intentional time to rest and reflect. Sure there have been plenty of last-minute things to do and to buy pre-baby (and plenty of things I’ve just had to leave undone) but I’ve prioritized taking time to just to relax and do the things I love. I’ve baked Christmas cookies and decorated our tree. I’ve taken long walks and caught up with friends. I’ve gone out to coffee and read and written in my journal. I’ve done yoga, taken naps, and gotten a pedicure. But most of all, I’ve cherished time with Brandon. We’ve watched movies, gone out to brunch, slept in late, had friends over for dinner, and even seen a Broadway play.

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This may all sound ridiculously indulgent, but as someone whose tendency is to over-work and over-commit, I am savoring this sacred time to rest pre-baby. I’m fully aware that the independence (and sleep!) I’ve cherished for much of my life is about to come to an end. I realize that Brandon’s and my years of being a twosome is drawing to a close. Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying that life is suddenly about to become drab and difficult, I just recognize that things are going to change. And I feel really peaceful about that fact. This new addition to our family is going to bring indescribable joy, and I know – as hard as it will be at times – that Brandon and I are going to learn to love and to give in ways we didn’t think possible. I get teary thinking about the moment we first get to meet and hold our baby girl, and can already feel the weight of love for her that’s been expanding my heart the past nine months.

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So here I am, less than one week away from our daughter’s due date – Christmas Eve! – with the hospital bag packed, the stroller sitting in the hallway, the nursery ready, and nothing left to do but wait. It’s a bit strange, this feeling of being wedged between two worlds. I’ve said my good-byes to my former life, but not yet arrived into my new role as mother. Each day, my physical limitations grow, along with my ever-increasing belly – even sleep is becoming challenging! – and I cry at the drop of a hat. At this point, I’m so ready just to have this baby. The days stretch on, and every night I go to bed thinking, “Could tonight be the night?” I count contractions and think maybe it’s happening, but no, false alarm. So I surrender, once again, to a a timetable outside of my control, and a plan much greater than my own.

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It’s not lost on me that this intense season of anticipation is falling smack dab in the midst of Advent. I’ve always loved the weeks leading up to Christmas, wrapped in wonder and mystery, but this year, the meaning has been especially poignant. After years that have felt heavy with B’s chronic illness, and all the heartache that has brought, this healthy baby girl is a true gift from God – a breath of new life in the darkness. As so we wait expectantly, full of hope, and try to stay present in this very raw moment of Advent.

Merry Christmas to you all!

xo, Anna

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P.S. For anyone else who finds themselves in the final days of waiting for a baby, a friend sent me this beautiful blog post. Definitely worth a read!!

P.S.S. The accompanying photos were taken by our good friend Eric Ryan Anderson a few days ago in our new neighborhood. He shot our wedding five years ago, and has documented – and participated in! – many wonderful evenings around the yellow table. I am so grateful that he took the time to capture these very special moments between Brandon and me just days before before we become parents.

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