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Hope: Expecting without Expectations

People call me and Mr. G "expectant parents." We are expecting to have a baby, of course, next month, but we are also making a conscious effort not to expect anything more specific.

For example, I hoped but did not expect that I would be able to wear these shoes a month before my due date.


I did not expect my very small workplace to throw me a big baby shower in a room with two decorated Christmas trees and a roaring fire. What a nice surprise!


And regarding the next few weeks, we are trying not to have too many specific expectations about how labor, delivery, and birth will go. I hope to have a natural birth with no complications, but only so much of that is within my control. I know that birth stories are usually full of surprises, and I don't want to be too disappointed or hard on myself if things don't go exactly as we had envisioned.

Also, we are trying not to have strict expectations about what Nux Gallica will be like when she comes home with us. She could be quiet or operatic, shy or playful, picture-perfect or covered in baby acne and weird birthmarks. (You can't tell from ultrasounds!) When she gets older, she could be a studious intellectual or a social butterfly, a girlie pink princess or a GI Jane, an artistic spirit or a computer nerd. Or she could be a little of all those things, or she could have qualities we haven't imagined.

Instead of expecting certain things, we are trying to hope that she will be as healthy and as happy as she can be--however she needs to be.

The minister of the church where I work (who helped throw the baby shower and gave me the most adorable hand-embroidered onesie) recently gave a sermon on the topic of hope as opposed to optimism. She used an excerpt from Taking Pictures of God by Bruce T. Marshall:
Optimism, as I understand it, is an attitude of expectation
that a particular result will occur –
that a person will recover from an illness,
that we will achieve a specific goal,
that the Publishers Clearing House will pick my number
from among the billions submitted.
The dictionary defines optimism as
“an inclination to anticipate the best possible outcome.”

Hope is less specific.
It’s an attitude that looks for possibility
in whatever life deals us.
Hope does not anticipate a particular outcome
but keeps before us the possibility
that something useful will come from this.
I like that distinction. It frees us from the burdens of perfectionism and gives us an alternative to either optimism or pessimism: a constructive, realistic open-mindedness that is difficult to disappoint.

One of the baby shower gifts symbolized this concept nicely. A coworker (who is on sabbatical, but still sent gifts!) gave me this set of baby socks from a crafts gallery in town called Mackerel Sky. None of the multicolored knit socks match each other, but they all go nicely together. And they come in a five-pack, so they cannot be neatly paired. And all of them are beautiful, soft, warm, and wonderful!

I love these socks. I want to go and buy another package, but then I would have an even number, and that would defeat their intended oddity!

Even before she is born, Nux Gallica has brought us many blessings. Mr. G and I feel closer than ever as we share the experience of pregnancy. Family, friends, and coworkers have already shown us a lot of love and support. And on a basic, physical level, the hormonal benefits of pregnancy before the age of 30 have already done their work to reduce my lifetime risk of various cancers and other diseases. Thanks for that, Baby G!

My belly has dropped down low, and Nux Gallica will be considered full-term starting the day after Christmas. She could stay put as late as the end of January, but we have truly entered the phase of "you just never know."

Today, I packed a bag for the hospital with a change of clothes for Mom, Dad, and Baby. I don't know when I will go into labor, what it will be like, or how it will be to finally meet our first child. But I hope that whatever happens, I will be able to appreciate and grow from all the new experiences to come.

Comments

  1. What a refreshing and wonderful attitude you have!

    I hope, too, that your baby is healthy and happy.

    I've seen socks like that on QVC (don't laugh) and they're a new fashion trend. I think they're pretty cool!

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  2. When you meet your child, the rest of the world will slip away. The sun may be shining, the Milky Way may be sparkling, but you will have eyes only for one brilliant being. My best wishes and a sleigh-full of hope for that incredible day.
    By the way, those socks are the coolest ever!

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  3. Such delicious anticipation packed into this short time of "you just never know." Such hope. I wish you luck!

    And what fabulous red shoes!

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  4. First, those are some seriously hot shoes~! ♥

    Second, I did the same thing -- I hoped that the baby would be healthy, and I hoped that he wouldn't have a snout. (He looked like he had one in his ultrasound pictures and it used to keep me up at night! My husband had to talk me down from these panicked bouts of, "My child has a dog snout!")

    But otherwise, I had general plans, and was not going to sweat if it went wrong; I know for some people that lack of structure is hard and stressful, but it helped me relax and realize that a lot of it was out of my hands.

    And it went great! My child's skull looked like something out of Indiana Jones, his skin flaked (I actually had to ask if that was normal; it totally is, but it looks terrible), and he was pimply for about two weeks. And even then, he was still the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. ♥

    I'll be thinking of y'all (probably sporadically, because that how I roll) over the next month, but I have plenty of hope that it'll all go great. Maybe not to plan, but great nonetheless. :D

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  5. Having no expectations will certainly help you as a parent. I still struggle with trying to keep to that school of thought and I have a second grader. It's a pitfall of parenthood I think. It' good to hear you've already started focusing on that before you little baby is even born. Best wishes to you and your family!

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  6. No way, WC! My socks were on QVC??? Haha. I thought some creative genius in East Lansing came up with them. Well, that's what I get for not having TV. I still think they are a cute trend.

    Tricia: How lovely! I sure hope so.

    Sarah: Thank you and thank you! Mr. G bought those shoes for me. They are "Sofft" brand, and they actually have flexible, cushioned soles and shock-absorbing heels for maximum comfort. Brilliant, huh?

    Ashley: One of my ultrasound pictures makes my baby look like she has a pig snout! But it's because of the shallow, 2-D imaging so the nose gets cut off from the front. I hope my baby will be just as beautiful as yours, weird baby conditions and all. ;)

    Dark Mother: I'm trying to get in the right mindset in advance, but of course I've never done this before, so I don't really know how everything will turn out. Since I don't have any close friends or family who have had babies, I'm trying to absorb a lot of wisdom from experienced parents before I get into this. My parents kind of did the same thing; they both looked back on their childhoods, which were lacking in different ways, and said, "Let's find out how to do this better." So they read all the latest parenting books of the time and did some soul-searching and raised my brother and I a bit differently than either of them had been raised. And me and Mr. G are doing the same kind of evaluation and conscious planning--which includes trying to stay more open-minded, ironically.

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  7. Good luck from here on out! Meditation helped me get through some of the anxiety and don't hesitate to ask your hubby for help or just a word of reassurance the last few weeks. It was tough for me the last few weeks and I did NOT expect to go 10 days early. The contractions came on immediately and I was admitted all within a 2 hour timespan. I had expected to go to work that day!

    I've been struggling a little (alot) at home with these new changes and suffering a bit from postpartum distress, but my husband has been wonderful and things are slowly getting better. If you have questions, ask before you leave the hospital and don't feel bad for asking over and over and over. I can't wait to see your little addition too!

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  8. Thanks, Lexi! Congratulations on your baby bombshell. She is really beautiful.

    I have a very supportive husband, too. I'm definitely relying on him a lot.

    It's crazy how different everyone's birth story is. No matter what happens, it will be a big surprise at this point. People are telling me they just know I'm going to be early--or late, or that I'm going to have a long labor or a short labor, or whatever. There's only one way I'm going to find out. :)

    This is such an exciting time. I hope you are feeling more settled and rested soon as things get calmer, and I hope my baby is as precious as yours! Having as short a labor as yours would be nice, too. ;)

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