Baby Daze Again by Jennifer Watts

I’m 49 years old and I’m having a baby.

It’s been 25 years since I’ve done this.

I’m confident I remember the what’s and how’s.

It’s unexpected, this little one. I thought I was done with the heavy load of parenting. Apparently not. Hear this: You never stop being a mother.

Here’s how I’ve felt. First, surprised. Second, a mix of excitement and nerves. Then, doubt. Finally, over whelmed with joy.

During a recent sleepless night, I spent time asking myself some curly questions. Can I do this? Am I ready?

My husband remains calm. He’s the rock he was the first two times round. Baby girls, little gems, came into our lives, little more than a year apart in the mid 1990s. Before the internet. So long ago!

There’s a sense of panic if I dwell on those early years. I don’t want a repeat of that experience. Colic and reflux, unsettled babes and an anxious me who got through by remembering that tomorrow is another day, and better ones are likely down the road.

Hold tight.

Of course, there are other things I want to forget. Let’s talk about the L-word. Is the pain of labour going to be as bad? Maybe there are better drugs. I will certainly be better at demanding them. Is the care more flexible, the nurses kinder, are pregnant women empowered in a way the system once didn’t encourage?

If not, I’ll be more feisty. This time, I won’t hesitate to be one of those mothers.

I’ll be more prepared. I know now that it’s pain with a purpose. Nothing we can’t handle together.

I picture the pain as a rolling ocean wave.

Here it comes, sweeping me off my feet, carrying me up to the dizzying heights of an impossible peak. Just when I think, “I can’t do this anymore!” the crest falls away. I’m riding the wave down the other side, coming to rest in the shallows by the shore, breathing deep before the next wave draws and curls. It’s doable.

I’ll spend the next few months reading updated how-to books. And follow long trails online, something that wasn’t available half a century ago. Some will help. Much may not.

I’ll plan a baby shower and pick up knitting. I’ll choose names, and have my favourites, although I’ll keep those close.

My own name, I have less trouble with. It’s an ageless one, traditional in the best way.

Grandma.

Do you like it?

I’m tempted to go with something young, G-ma Jen maybe. However, I’m happily ensconced in middle-age, youth lost to the privilege of growing older, something I recognise as a pleasure denied to some.

Besides, I have a new chapter about to start.

Did I tell you? I’m having a baby! Grand-parenting is on my doorstep thanks to both daughters, their husbands and some serendipitous timing, gifting me the very best present in my 50th year.

About the contributor

Jennifer Watts is a writer and former journalist who has lived in several countries. She has freelanced for a range of newspapers and is a contributor for Chicken Soup For The Soul and The Blue Nib. She lives in New Zealand with her husband and two children.

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