Hello there, Smooshy Baby.  I don’t talk directly to you very often yet, it still feels weird.  But I have a story to tell you about the rock in that picture, which I’m carrying in my pocket today.

    Yesterday, your father and I went to a clinic and had an ultrasound and watched you on the screen.  I’ve had evidence of your burgeoning personality and your movement for a few weeks now, but your father hasn’t.  He only has my word and my giggles and my sighs that indicate that you are moving around.  You move the most when I am sitting really still or laying down, and when I walk around or ride in the car, it’s like you’ve been rocked to sleep.  This gives me really high hopes for the effectiveness of the Baby Hypnotizer I just added to my list of things to have waiting for you.

    We don’t want to know if you’re a boy or a girl until you get here, and the ultrasound technician said that was a good thing, because you weren’t going to let us see anyway.  She called you stubborn and Dad and I just looked at each other with our “sounds about right” expressions.  I make the same face when people tell me that all this heartburn means you’ll have a lot of hair.  Stubborn and hairy is one of the safest bets out there.

    I’m not really happy with my doctor, or any other doctor that I’ve talked to in the last few weeks.  You’ll be fine.  I trust that she’ll take care of you and you’ll get here with no problems.  But I am trying my best to make plans for your arrival where I’ll also be fine, plans where neither one of us gets unnecessary drugs or intervention, plans where we get to spend the most time together.  These seem like simple requests, but this is not how the system is set up, and I don’t want to meet you after going through a process that is more suitable for a car accident victim than me, a regular woman doing a really regular thing.  So, we have some plans to take care of.  There are cribs and strollers and diaper bags and pumps and bottles, but those are just things.  We have bigger plans to make, the three of us.

    Your mama has seen a lot of pain in her day, hopefully things that never come back into our lives for you to witness.  I got through a lot of that pain by meditating and relaxing and controlling things in my body that most people think they have no control over.  It’s called biofeedback.   It’s the best gift any medical professional has ever given me, and I used to be very very good at it, and I plan on being even better by the time you get here.

    Biofeedback requires focus though.  An intense amount of focus amid a world of distractions.  I need it to work when the crib isn’t assembled yet and Dad’s at mile 261 of 262 and work sucks and I can’t see my feet and suddenly your name doesn’t sound right anymore and where the heck did all of this dog hair come from?  I need it to work when it feels like nothing else is working.  That’s how it’s always worked before.  It’s easy to put faith into biofeedback because it’s putting faith into myself.

    So for the last couple of months, I’ve been writing scripts in my head.  Meditations.  I’ve been crafting short narratives that soothe me.  Back in the day, my script was ocean-based.  It was all about the waves and the shore and the ebb and the flow, things always returning.  My new script is more local.  It is a small creek, and there are stones, and the water flows over them and smoothes the edges but keeps going, never stopping in one place.

    I decided I needed some objects to focus on.  Sitting in Starbucks after our appointment, I asked your father if there was a creek nearby where I could get some small smooth stones.  We left right away, and drove to Tryon Creek to a public canoe launch. I wish I had photos of what happened next, but our electronics were kept far, far away from us and the water.  I’m sure it will be forever embedded in my memory anyway, the way the creek forked in that spot in Glacial Park, the way the moon was in such sharp contrast to the light evening sky, the smell of the water, the sound of fish jumping and splashing to my left.

    We both started wading into the shallow creek, and I got scared.  I can’t swim, water terrifies me, the creek bed was rocky and very sharp.  Oh, and your father almost fell over immediately, and my center of gravity has shifted quite a bit lately.  I backed up to the bank again while he forged ahead, spotting a perfect place to grab the smoothest stones.  I stood back while he chucked them towards dry land, and then I’d investigate and approve.  After four or five of them, I told him that was plenty and he gave me this look like “I just took my shirt off and my shoes off and soaked my shorts for four rocks?” and he kept digging.  All sizes, all shapes, some with interesting holes and weird colors.   More than I could carry back to the car in one trip.

    As he was wading back towards me, almost falling again, soaked to his hips, feet kind of mossy, I realized that my entire thought process leading up to this excursion had never been voiced.  I asked “Uhhh, did I tell you why I needed rocks?” and he said no.  I could tell you a lot of stories about your dad’s enormous, amazingly generous heart, but this one is my current favorite.  He left a comfortable chair and an ice cold white mocha to jump waist-deep into a green creek to find rocks for me without ever asking me why.  He supports my plan wholeheartedly now that he knows it.  I think you’ll probably see a lot of this as you grow up with us.  We are like an improv team, with our wild ideas and mysterious scenarios, always saying yes because it’s the rule, because that’s how you get to the next adventure.

    We were in his car, his dream car, one of his true loves, and he was soaked and slimy and I was carrying dirty algae covered rocks and he didn’t even blink about dragging all of this mess into the car.  He stripped down to just his underpants and put his dry shirt back on, and we drove home listening to The Cars’ “Let’s Go” turned way up.  A local cop was parked across the street, watching traffic, and your dad had to put his soaked cold slimy shorts back on before he could walk to the house.  I left my rocks on the patio table, to be power-washed and cleaned with a brush and dried in the sun tonight when I get home from work, except for the tiniest one, which I put in my pocket on my way out the door this morning.  I take it out every now and then and look at it, and I think about how not that long ago, you were this small.  And soon you’ll be here.

    I pay doctors who don’t trust the things I know about my own body, but your dad will wade into a creek for me with no questions asked.  Luckily, he’s the one you get to keep forever, he’s a rock like us.  And the rest of the pains of the world are just water moving over us and around us.