Friday, May 11, 2012

The Envelope Please

One of the bummers about this pregnancy was that Jericho wouldn't be here for the gender ultrasound. I thought about waiting for him to come home in July and we'd go for another ultrasound so we could both be there to have the tech tell us what we're having but July is WAY too long to wait. So I tried to come up with a plan to make it seem like he's still involved in the big news.

And so I did this.

This is the super secret gender envelope. On May 2nd, I went to my doc and told the tech that I didn't want her to tell me the gender but then handed her an envelope and note card and told her to write it down. She knows that my husband is overseas so I told her my little plan and she went along with it beautifully. She never let it slip and when all the picture taking was done, she turned away and put the printed gender pictures in the envelope and never let it slip. She sealed it up and handed it over.

Then I put it in a "Happy Anniversary" card and put it in the mail to Afghanistan that day.

Jericho was then to get my letter with its secret contents, wait for a time when we could talk on Skype and open it for the first time. That way he would be the first person to know the gender and then get to share it with me. Men don't really get to have the same kind of pregnancy excitement as us women, and they're probably fine with that, but I figured this plan would at least make ME feel more like he gets to be as excited.

You probably don't really care about what I did and why so here's the real reason for the post:

What? You can't read what's typed on the ultrasound picture?

In teeny little letters is typed "I'm a BOY!!!"

So there ya go. We're having a boy!!! Since the beginning, Jericho has only referred to new baby in male pronouns because he was convinced it would be a boy so why refer to him as anything else. Because we both were preferring a boy for this baby, I was so sure that would mean this would be another girl. But nope! We get our boy. One girl. One boy. Next we just need a dog and picket fence and we'll have our All-American suburban family.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What It's Like

Today is my anniversary. I have been married for three years. It feels so short but yet it's hard to remember what it was like before Jericho. This anniversary I am celebrating alone. Well, technically I celebrated with the ultrasound tech this morning at my OB, but that doesn't really count.

Not counting the two little breaks when I was able to see Jericho, we have been apart for nine months. When he first left, those first few weeks, I finally understood what melodramatic people meant when they say their heart is breaking. I physically hurt. No one could ask me about Jericho. I couldn't talk about him. I fell asleep to an open laptop with a picture of us on the screen. I clutched my phone like a lifeline, waiting for it to ring or beep with some sort of connection to him. I eventually got over the shock of him being gone but I always had this feeling. Like the odd, slightly awkward feeling of having left for the day without putting on my watch, sensing something that should be there but wasn't.

I don't really know yet what it's like to take care of children with a husband so I can't really contrast what it's like to do it by myself. I can tell you what it's like to be on permanent diaper duty or feeding or rocking baby to sleep duty. Or wishing I had someone else to carry her car seat. Or clean the bottles for the thousandth time. I can tell you what it's like to keep track of continuous tearless days because I consider them an accomplishment.

I recently read a story where a woman described how her father taught her to swim as a young child. He picked her up and threw her into the middle of the pool. She gasped and choked and flailed in the water until he took her out. She caught her breath and he did it again. And again. Until she started treading water and keeping herself afloat. Some of you more independent, less needy people may not relate to this comparison but this is what it's often like to parent by yourself. Those moments of breaking take away all patience and calm and fill you with a need to cling to someone else, that the only way out of this is with the support that only a spouse can give. The moments come in waves. But eventually, your instincts of fear and need turn into ones of self-sufficiency and survival.

Jericho not being here as an extra set of hands to help take care of the baby and our house is only part of what it's like. Sure the logistics of being a single parent are a pain in the tush but it's doable. People can bring me meals or watch Sydney or mow my lawn and it's awesomely helpful. But nothing touches what it's like to be without my husband.

First of all, as great as my friends are, you can't kiss me. I'm sorry. No manner of babysitting or warm dinners make me forget what it's like to be kissed. Don't take for granted how magical it is to kiss your spouse. If they're there, go kiss them. Right now.

And while you're over there, talk to them for a bit. While emails and Skype are lovely luxuries to ease the pain of distance, having your spouse to talk to daily cannot be matched. The fact that I can't pick up the phone whenever I want and call Jericho to talk me through things or even more important, to be my confidant and support, to talk me down from my ledges, to hug me and scratch my back, is an adjustment that I still haven't made. It makes me convinced I always want to hold the presence of my spouse in my life with the highest regard.

I don't get to talk to Jericho daily anymore. The days I do get to talk to him, things are easier. Sure it makes me happy but it's more than that. I feel normal and complete. I'm Drew Barrymore on the days I meet Adam Sandler, singing my Beach Boys songs.

It's hard not to feel lonely when my house still feels like Jericho lives in it but I prefer it that way. I've purposely left some things the same as when he was last here. I haven't kept all his dirty clothes hanging out or anything. That's just weird. But there are still two toothbrushes in our holder. His dirty, outside shoes are still in the garage from the last time he wore them. I still sleep on my side of the bed and haven't morphed into sleeping diagonally with 20 pillows like I did in my single days.

I have a husband. I really do. He's just not here. And I'm grateful for every day that it still affects me.

I have a little under three months until Jericho comes home. Do you know what that's like? Have you ever seen Sense and Sensibility? There is this part at the end when Eleanor, who recently thought Edward, the love of her life, got married to someone else. Edward comes to visit and reveals that he is, in fact, NOT married, and Eleanor collapses into a chair with these choking tears and gasps because she can no longer contain her excitement to find out that he's not married and is there to propose to her. That is what it's like to think about my husband coming home.

Happy three years. May we never, ever, ever, ever be apart again. Ever.

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