The baby down the hall.

It’s becoming more and more rare for me to find time to take a nice long soak in the bath these days. In fact, it’s becoming more and more likely that the day’s time has run out, and I slip into bed with unruly, unwashed hair and PJs from the night before. However, last night, I took my coveted bath but only because my husband lost a bet the night before:

I was kneeling on the floor holding a soiled diaper–Bennett buck naked next to me, amping up for his routine bath–when I asked, “What will you give me if I make this?” I pointed to the trash bin, maybe 7 feet away, wedged between the dresser and the rocking chair. “Something good,” I added, as Stuart contemplated. “If you make it,” he said, “I’ll scrub and fill a nice bath for you.”

Underhand…thunk…drained it.

So last night, Stuart got out the homemade tub scrub and gave the tub a nice rub down while I showered. Yes, I take a very quick shower prior to a bath because I prefer not to soak in filthy water. After the tub is clean and filled with water, I add a teaspoon of powdered vitamin c to help reduce chemicals in the bath water and let that sit for a couple minutes. Then, I usually add specific ingredients for a relaxing magnesium bath, but lastnight, I decided to use 1/2 cup Epsom salt + 3 drops of the essential oil Nighty Night by Plant Therapy. It’s a process but it’s worth it.

I lied motionless in the water, the only movement being the flicker of lights and shadows on the wall from candles that smell like fresh linens. I heard nothing. The sound of silence was almost unrecognizable. I won’t dare sleep at night without a white noise machine running or a fan whirring, but this silence was the mute lullaby I needed. Then, I closed my eyes for a minute, and I realized…my stomach is empty.

(No, I was not hungry.) I rested my hands on my stomach and tugged at my deflated belly.

My stomach is empty, and there’s a baby sleeping down the hall.

It was surreal. I hadn’t taken a bath since I was 38 weeks pregnant with our son. I had lied in that same spot, hands resting on both sides of my massive belly, watching the water ripple to the edge of the tub as Bennett kicked and jabbed inside me. I watched him roll and stretch up against my skin, his little feet and hands protruding outward, almost recognizable to the naked eye. But now, there’s just exhausted, over-exerted skin. It feels sad, but it’s happy. Those same tiny toes and fragile fingers are cozy and curled up in the crib just a room away. Those same hands grasp my index finger when he dozes off in the car seat or holds on for comfort while nursing. Those feet are now for exploring and pulling into his mouth. It’s an unforgettable privilege to grow and house your first child inside your womb. The fear of how life will change and how you will change when that child is born almost makes you wish that baby could stay safe inside forever, or at least for longer, until that fear goes away. But it doesn’t, and it won’t, and the world will be bad and the world will be good; it will be what it will be no matter what you do, and it’s okay. Because in the end, you have a sweet, spunky child sleeping safe and sound just across the way. And there’s nothing more fulfilling than that. My stomach is empty, but my heart has never felt more full.

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