What does it mean to be “expecting”? We refer to a pregnant woman as an “expectant mom”, but do we ever really think about what we mean? She is waiting for the arrival of a newborn baby, expecting it to appear in her life very soon. Adoptive parents aren’t referred to as “expecting”. But why not? We are also anticipating the arrival of our child. We just don’t know who, and we don’t know when. Is that a reason to say we’re not “expecting”?
I don’t have a compass to help guide me through this wait. I’ve struggled quite a bit with how much to prepare, and how much to hold back. Perhaps I have internalized the societal view that I am not “expecting”.
Yesterday I sat in the little grey room. It’s progressed quite a bit from the empty spare room it was six months ago. Curtains, a dresser, a cozy chair, have all turned it into a welcoming oasis of baby-ness. I sat there and slid open one of the dresser drawers, exposing the 2nd hand baby clothes I’ve started collecting. Something about those clothes made a difference. This isn’t just a staged room, an imagined situation. It’s our child’s room, and it’s slowly getting ready for our baby’s arrival.
I know it sounds strange, but to some extent the steps I’ve taken recently, working on the room, researching baby products, calling pediatricians, has all felt like an elaborate game of “make believe”. Something felt almost wrong about spending hundreds of dollars on a new dresser, because it feels like a prop in a strange game. Is it real to be preparing for a baby when we don’t know the who and when yet?
But when I confessed these feelings to my husband I was met with a blank expression. “I wouldn’t have let you spend all this money if it wasn’t for real.” Thus far, his way of coping with the long drawn out wait of adoption has been primarily to ignore that it’s even happening, which has only fueled my feelings that it isn’t “real”. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t felt it. With that one sentence he invalidated much of the guilt I have been experiencing, justifying my preparations.
Something’s coming. We don’t know who, and we don’t know when. But that doesn’t change the fact that, whether society likes it or not, we’re “expecting”.