On Anticipation


When I was in the fourth grade, the year-end state standardized test asked students to write an essay about the happiest day of their lives. I decided to write about my family's first trip to Disneyland the summer before. However, rather than starting with the moment we walked through the park's gates, I started with the day before we got there--the excitement of packing the car, imagining the rides, planning what time we'd arrive. To me, the story of a great memory seemed incomplete without describing the anticipation that preceded it.

A combination of the test's time limit, page limit, and my characteristic lack of brevity resulted in the entire essay being about the anticipation of Disneyland--it ended with me and my siblings crawling into bed in our motel, looking forward to waking up the next day and seeing Disneyland for the first time. I always wondered if the essay graders found that oddly literary or simply suggestive of an ultimately lackluster trip.

Whatever the graders' thoughts, our trip was anything but lackluster. We enjoyed our Disney experience as thoroughly and completely as we possibly could. The trip was ultimately worth the anticipation; the anticipation made worthy by the trip.

Sitting here, 39 weeks and three days pregnant, "anticipation" is the word that defines nearly everything I do. Throughout this pregnancy we've tried to revel in that anticipation to the best of our ability. I'm writing this in hopes that it someday serves as a reminder of the joy we felt while waiting for our baby to arrive.

Early on, we decided to not find out the sex of our baby. In retrospect, this decision has been the single biggest contributor to our joy of anticipation. While our reasons for remaining in the dark on gender were myriad, my most favorite aspect of not knowing if we're having a boy or a girl has been how it's blocked our ability to conjure up a specific image of the child we're having. This child, nestled in my belly, feels completely unknown to me. I do not know its name or its gender, and that has made me reflect continually on how I also do not know its disposition, likes, dislikes, skills, temperament, and any number of other attributes I could easily start to assume he or she has while imagining the lives we will lead together. I am so excited to be surprised by this baby's appearance and gender in a matter of days or weeks, and I'm excited to be surprised by all of the personality traits he or she exhibits as they grow. 

Tactically speaking, I am also very excited to have the carrot of the gender reveal dangling there to motivate me through the process of childbirth. I can only imagine how cathartic that moment of birth and discovery will be.

Until then, I plan to continue to savor this time until our baby makes their appearance. I'm in no rush to artificially hurry this process along--I trust our baby and my body to let us know when the time is right. Perhaps, unknown to me, tonight will be the last night before I get to enter Disneyland's gates. Perhaps it will be two weeks from now. Either way, this time will have been magical, and the experience on the other side will be too.