Three years ago Bryan and I got off a Virgin redeye flight from New York into London Heathrow. I had been to London exactly once before, years before, for 4 days. I had a good trip then. It rained. Nothing specifically stuck out for me. We laughed at Madame Tussaud’s. We stayed in a beautiful hotel. We were a young couple and had some bumps at the time. In the filmstrip in my mind of all the vacations Bryan and I have taken, it ranks mid to low. But no matter. I wanted to move to London. And so we did years later. And so we got off that plane. On that 8 February. And I was elated. And I really never looked back with question. Even when I was job searching, knowing few people, looking at flats, and spending days by myself, walking slower to make time pass. Staring at the same view from the same elliptical machine, working out because I didn’t know what else to do. Listening to the same songs on repeat on my iPod. Carrying more than one person should ever carry by themselves on a bus back from Ikea. Passing strangers on the street and wondering who my friends would be. If they would be. Going on first interviews with British headhunters who all wanted to know why I was here, and how long I was staying. Suspicious-like. Literally pounding the pavements with my only navigational tool a dog-eared and post-ited copy of A to Z. Which I then lost one day on the tube. Imagine that. A moment in time before a walking version of satnav on the iPhone. I love London. Partly for the city it is to the world. Partly for the city it is to me. And mostly because it dared me, inexplicably, to do something. I will forever be grateful for that, and forever changed.
Today is also 20 weeks for my inside-baby. The stereotype about the second is true for me. That you forget to focus during pregnancy, and shamefully, probably sometimes after they are born. When I was pregnant with Jonah, I was totally mesmerized by the experience. I felt beautiful and dewy and I often smiled walking across the street, pressing a hand to my stomach as though that would shield oncoming traffic. I cried with gratitude when friends from all over lent me maternity clothes and kept a journal which I wrote in every week – sometimes I had so much to say, the text was overflowing into the margins. I took weekly photos and wrote long email updates to my inner circle. I was already so deeply, deeply in love with my child. I laid in bed at night with the comfort of my old frenemy, insomnia, and thought about this good fortune and wondered what would be while I repeatedly rearranged the five pillows propping me in position. I had baby showers and asked for long tomes of advice from mothers that had gone before me. I spent so many quiet moments folding slowly, thoughtfully and lovingly each piece of brand new clothing that was waiting for its inhabiter to arrive. I was pensive. Often.
Today I am 20 weeks. Halfway. And there is no belly shot. No email to family and friends. No journal. No pen to paper or deep thought in the wee hours of insomnia except that it would be nice to sleep and why is the flat always so hot. I feel guilty that I am behaving differently and premeditated guilt that my new child will probably wear used clothes and sit and bounce and ride and laugh in and on items that I will have to furiously scrub of spit up, wear, tear and weather from the past two years immediately before his or her arrival. Mostly, premeditated guilt that no doubt when this new miracle is here, gurgling and smiling and drooling and being a baby, I will still have one eye on my first – still so utterly and completely taken by him, afraid to miss even just one thing.
Halfway. And I love this baby with my whole heart. With every molecule in me and the ones that are forced to swirl around me when I cut through air going here and there and everywhere. I already believe that my family is by definition us four. Jonah kisses my belly every day and I whisper to the one inside, he is your best friend. If you only take one piece of advice ever from your mother, take that one.
20 week inside-baby, I think about you every day. I do. I love you. Halfway.