Here we are again. This strange, in-between time just before a baby is born.

I remember this trembling-on-the-edge feeling from the days before I birthed J. I felt fiercly protective and nostalgic about my life as I knew it, so I printed out a whole bunch of pictures and hung them over our couch.

Pictures of A and I canoeing the Green River, being pelted with flower petals and rice at our wedding, skiing with family, riding the train to Paris, decked out in orange for Queen’s Day in Amsterdam. After every picture I hung, every nail I pounded into the wall, I would stand back and look at my work.

This will insure that you don’t forget. That you’re not lost after you have this baby. Your old life will be right here, anytime you need it.

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I loved looking at all those pictures in my early days with baby J.

See. I’m not losing myself at all. I did all those things. I remember what it was like and how it felt.

Time passed.

J started climbing onto the back of the couch. He would fiddle with the frames, knocking them down. Then he’d pull the nails out of their holes.

I don’t even remember when I took them all down, but I did. I shoved them into a drawer somewhere. (Sort of like this sweet tradition that we forgot about for a few years.)

Before becoming J’s mother, I was really scared about how that would feel—moving into a new phase and leaving the old one behind. At the time, I would have told you that I was NEVER going to take those pictures down. They were my grip on reality. I needed to hold on. But when I carted them off to the drawer, I didn’t even think about it. I was just sick of picking the pictures up with J’s sticky fingerprints all over them and hearing the nails ping on the floor.

At some point during those first couple years, without knowing it, I fully crossed over into my new life.  I didn’t need the pictures anymore.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling that same fierce protectiveness—this time, over our life as a family of three.

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I sent off a bunch of new pictures to be printed. Soon, they’ll arrive in the mail and I’ll tuck their corners into frames and look at them and feel some sense of relief.

There. I did it. This baby can come now. My life as I know it is protected.

Naturally, it’s not. It’s going to change. Radically. And who knows what the future of these pictures will be—whether they’ll still be on the mantle in 2 years time.  It doesn’t really matter, because I probably won’t need them like I do now.

Nothing like being 39 weeks pregnant to remind you on a daily if not hourly basis that you’re not in control. That everything is constantly changing. That the life you know can and will be radically altered at any moment. And you won’t have a choice. You’ll have to dive down under and swim across, to a new place you’ve never been. You can’t go back to where you were.

That’s why I need the pictures.

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This was originally posted over at Get Born, which is awesome. You should check it out.