When I was pregnant, 36 weeks hardly seemed long enough. When it was time for him to be delivered, everyone was nervous and quiet. Everyone was concerned about his lung functionality but yet no one said anything at all other than the obligatory and overused it's going to be okay and it's slightly altered but just as blasé variations. The dismissive quiet and calm that had suddenly come over everyone when my doctor walked in the triage room to give me a high-five and ask if I was ready to meet my baby only made my stomach crawl higher in my throat. Yes, I wanted to meet my baby, but I wanted him to stay in there just a little longer. I was angry at the world, at myself, at my body for not being able to do the right thing like a body should naturally do, for somehow being unable to fully incubate this child in my stomach for the correct amount of time. Yet, he came out screaming and for the first time in a while, everything felt like it was finally going to be okay.
Ethan has now been here on the outside for thirty-six weeks. They have been the greatest thirty-six weeks of my life. I get to wake up and sing good morning songs and kiss his soft forehead goodnight. When there is something he needs or wants, I am able to give it to him. When he is sick, I am able to make him feel better. When he tumbles down in defeat from an attempt to crawl gone wrong, I am able to scoop him up and kiss him until his tears morph into laughter. While parenting is in no way void of stress (the opposite, in fact), I feel calmer and less anxious having him here on the outside. I never need to wonder if he will be okay or if he is in trouble because he is never not next to me. I like having him on the outside so much better.
We spent the afternoon at Monkey Joe's where I lugged his 23 pound self up wobbly inflated ladders and held him above my head until my arms were shaking as we bounced, bounced, bounced. His laughs filled the room and didn't stop until he had hiccups, which is when we got to sit down and rehydrate and recuperate. He twirled a loose piece of my hair in his fingers while he sipped water from his sippy cup and he smiled at the other children running up onto the bounce houses themselves. As the days go on, he is starting to seem more like a child than the fragile newborn that we hurriedly brought home from the hospital as soon as we got the call that it was okay to bring him home. That one day he had to stay in the hospital once we ourselves were discharged dragged on like an eternity and felt like years yet, somehow, these past thirty-six weeks had flown by as if they were being fast-forwarded.
During pregnancy, thirty-six weeks didn't seem very long at all. It still doesn't, really, when I look at how far Ethan has come and all of the milestones that he has reached over such a seemingly short period of time. Our home is filled with ubiquitous reminders that time passes all too quickly: tiny infant clothes all boxed up, baby swings and play mats moved into the garage. How quickly these thirty-six weeks have gone by, and how quickly the weeks will continue to go.
Since Ethan was born, I've always repeated a line to a Taylor Swift song to him at some point during the day as it comes to close: I had the best day with you today. And these thirty-six weeks have been filled with so many best days, better days than I could ever begin to imagine.
Happy inside-out birthday, Ethan. I look forward to having so many more of the best days with you, everyday.