Dear Zophia (although that isn’t your name, and might be even stranger if you end up being a boy, it’s what you’re Mommy named you a few weeks ago, so it’s what we’ve been calling you in our texts to each other. If you’re wondering why…..don’t. I’m honestly not sure.)
Today you’ve been growing inside of me for sixteen weeks and five days. Technically, I’m nineteen weeks and three days pregnant with you, but the way that is all measured is really funny to me.
Some days, it feels like you’ve been a part of me forever: almost as if I’ve never worn pants that button at the waist, and I’ve always approached medicine with trepidation – terrified of what it could do to your tiny developing body: no matter how congested and sick I feel.
Other days, this process feels as though it’s taking forever, as I longingly stare at the wine cabinet in the corner of our living room, with my phone open to The Bump app, as I scan it to learn more about our most recent developments. I stand in front of the mirror and push my shirt down around my growing belly and imagine how much of that bump is comprised of you. I wonder where you are curled up as I poke and prod my belly, hoping you’ll tap back and remind me that you’re in there.
Last week, you did for the first time. I’d felt sensations that reminded me of bubbles and based on what everyone had told me, I’d figured it was you moving around. Then, on Wednesday evening, I was sitting with your mommy on the couch – eating dinner after a very long day – and I told her I thought I’d felt you move. A moment later, you kicked me with an intensity that I hadn’t felt before (and have longed to feel, since) and she was able to put her hand on my belly long enough to feel it, too. I felt you again and my eyes must have widened, as she looked at me and said, “that was a kick, wasn’t it?”
Since that day, you’ve only kicked me lightly, and now I’m much more aware of those sensations and I try to stop and enjoy them. Sometimes I think you know that, and like any child trying to tease their parents, you stop just when I get excited – leading me to wonder if I was just experiencing gas bubbles.
I wonder what you’re going to look like all the time. Next week, we’re going to have your anatomy scan: we’ll see all of your organs close up (well – almost all of them as we’re hoping to keep your sex a secret until you’re born), and I’m so excited to see your face again. I know you won’t look like me, and sometimes that makes me a tiny bit sad, but then I remember how much you’ll look like your beautiful mommy and I smile. Both she and our donor have curly hair, so I’m expecting to have to learn how to brush and style curls – a modest challenge for your mama who has had straight auburn hair her whole life. Your mommy straightens her curls every other night: pulling and ironing each curl into straight submission. You can do that too, if you want to, but I hope you love every part of yourself the way I already do: every hair, freckle, inch of your skin.
I hope you grow up to be happy. The world is sometimes a scary place, but I plan to expose you to as many of the happy and loving parts as I possibly can, so that you never know darkness more than you know light. When you experience the scary parts of this world, I promise to always remind you of your strength, your voice, and your heart – living in this family, I know you’ll have a steady voice and a good heart.
Speaking of this family: you’re going to love it. In addition to me, you have a really amazing mommy. Just tonight, she was out in the snow cleaning both of our cars so that I could get to work with no trouble in the morning. That’s pretty typical: she had a day off from work today, so she cleaned our entire house from top to bottom. She works so hard so that we can all be comfortable, she she must ask me 10 times a day how you are doing and if I’ve felt you move. She is patient, and quiet and will teach you so much about sports: I can say with total confidence that you’ll learn much more from her than almost all of your friends will from their dads. She’s a fantasy baseball champion (four years in a row now, but don’t remind her – she can be cocky about it!), and she follows football almost as closely. If you want to know about hockey, you have three uncles and an aunt who are total fanatics, and a Pop Pop who can rattle off stats about almost any sport you can think of. In fact, he can rattle off random facts about almost anything: he’s a trivia whiz, and will undoubtedly teach you lots of things about different topics. You have a mom mom who already loves your two cousins fiercely, and uses her precious vacation time after driving two hours just to watch them while your aunt goes to work. I hope she can retire sometime soon, although she’ll always be doing something (probably offering to watch you, if she does. She’s really excited that you’re going to live so close to her…she asks about you all the time). On the other side, you have another Pop Pop (who we’ll have to watch as I have a feeling he’ll try to teach you some pranks and….probably inappropriate jokes) but he’ll absolutely make you laugh when he says something unexpected. Your Nana always corrects him (she is very sweet and polite), and in addition to helping you to become a good person, she’ll teach you how to make all kinds of delicious Polish cookies like her mom (Great Nana) used to make. Although Great Nana isn’t with us anymore, I’m confident that she helped bring you to us: I would tell you that you’d love her, but I think you already do.
Finally: going back to our little family of four, in addition to me, you, and Mommy, you will have an amazing little guard dog – Barley. She’s kind of temperamental, and if you lay under a blanket and she decides to lay with you, don’t move any of your extremities until you lift them above the blanket: otherwise she’ll think it’s some kind of a monster and try to attack it. I may have had a toe or two nipped by her, but I swear she’s just trying to protect us. I ask her where you are sometimes: they say that dogs can sense babies, but she hasn’t let on that she knows you’re coming, yet. One time, a few weeks ago – when I was sick with the stomach virus – she stayed by my side for hours, even though your Mommy was also sick, and she’s usually Mommy’s best bud. I can only imagine that she knew I needed her (although we’ve also speculated that she sensed that Mommy had a fever and she was avoiding that), but either way: you can expect to be part of the group she guards with ferocity, and I hope your chubby little baby hands aren’t too hard on her curly fur.
We’re starting to prepare your nursery: since we won’t know your sex for a while still, we decided on a neutral color theme: gold and navy (which I just realized as I was writing this, is just like your Pop Pop’s favorite football team: Notre Dame. Clearly, though, it’s not why we chose it…especially since your Mama’s loyalty lies with a different school. But whether we like it or not, Pop Pop will definitely still try to teach you the Notre Dame fight song – so I guess I better start singing it to you now…). Some people have told us that it seems girly, and other’s have assumed you’re a boy because of it. This is why we’re keeping your name a secret until we have you snuggled in our arms: we love our (your) friends and family, but they can have some strong opinions (you probably will, too). That’s totally fine: but right now, we are just trying to figure out what is best for you, and we already second guess ourselves at least 100x a day: no need to add more stress to that.
Sweet baby, there is so much more I want to tell you, but I’ll save it for another letter on another day. Until then, please don’t be afraid to move around and kick me. I’ll admit: it did scare me the first time, but since then I’ve looked forward to it. I just like reminders that you’re still close by (I mean, aside from the app updates and my ever-growing belly…)
We love you very much. See you in 144 days if you come on your due date (or somewhere around 151 days if you take after me…)
Love You Always,