Even though this is our fourth baby, it was the first time we’ve been expecting over the holidays. We’ve previously had 0-3 month olds at that time. The first holidays with a newborn are so sweet. They’re so relaxed; extended family doesn’t/shouldn’t have many expectations from a family in the newborn stage. Everyone snuggles the little one under the twinkling lights, and there’s the visual of “Unto you a child is born.” You pose the baby under the tree and feel like a new version of your family as you start the new year.
Being pregnant over the holidays is different. I couldn’t gorge myself with the excuse that I’m breastfeeding and need the extra calories. Nope, instead I was having visions of the scale at the next prenatal appointment. Put that extra cookie down.
And instead of feeling sweet family togetherness, I was feeling a missing person. We had four stockings hung on the mantle, and the girls talked excitedly about the new baby. But the new baby isn’t here. He has an identity, he has a name, he’s a subject of much conversation, but he’s not with us, and I think we all felt it more acutely than expected.
It seems natural at the holidays to grieve a loved one who is gone, but it’s a weird feeling to grieve the absence of someone who hasn’t even been born yet. It’s not the achy longing of infertility, it’s the acute knowledge that part of my family is missing.
And that’s my deep thought – a sense of incompleteness in a season of joy.
The funny story involves our name surprise. For the girls, we waited until birth to announce the name. Seemed like a fun surprise for everyone and prevented any weird comments. We picked a name and planned to do the same this time around.
Then the stocking.
I was afraid our classic Pottery Barn style would be discontinued before next year (and after their disastrous change of manufacturers this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is, but that’s another story…), so I went ahead and ordered a monogrammed stocking to match the three girls’. Excited to see it, I immediately opened the package… and realized Hannah was standing next to me… and remembered Hannah can read.
She’s no dummy. “I know the baby’s name!!!” she announced. Yep, the secret was out, and Brett and I decided it was easier to go public than try to keep the girls quiet for four months.