We are ready. The cloth diapers are folded and the bottles washed. A blank copy of my favorite baby book rests next to Puppy's on the bookshelf. One of the families in our playgroup gave us two enormous boxes of girl clothes that have been sorted and stowed away. The bassinet finally made it into our bedroom, lined with its cheerful red-and-white bedding. We have done the things we hoped to do to prepare Puppy.
And so we wait. I don't even know that we're waiting for Ms B's daughter to be born as much as we're waiting for this to be over. One way or another, to be done with this time in which we're almost parents of two, but not quite yet. Just to know where we stand again.
I kind of hate this part. I am good at waiting to match and I'd like to think I'm decent at playing my post-adoption role. But this in-between time is draining. The time between being told hey, you're going to have a kid and that kid actually becoming yours. When the end of one woman's parenting overlaps with the preparation for your own to begin. Most days it doesn't affect me too much outwardly, but I notice it sapping some of my emotional energy. Other days it stretches me thin until I break at the most inane provocation. Poor T bears the brunt of those moments because I think he will be the only one who will understand.
We happily prepare to welcome a child while also remaining able to gracefully step aside if Ms B's plans change. It's what we must do that until the day it all becomes final. If Baby B does end up staying with us, we will look back on this in-between time and say, "This is when we first started loving you." Retroactively it will become the beginning of our parenting.
If you overheard us talking, you might mistake us for some couple about to have a baby the usual way. We talk about those eminent sleepless nights, wonder where that last box of baby gear is hiding in the garage, joke about not being ready for two kids. But if you listen closely, you might notice that we talk about "the baby" or call her by her name. But we never say "our baby." It's amazing how much is caught up in that one little word.