MATERNITY LIFESTYLE SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHER

I would lay awake at night, giddy with magical excitement only children experience, straining my ears for hints of jingle bells and wondering when Santa and his reindeer would arrive on the roof. For the most part I thought I was well-behaved, with the exception of one year. I bawled behind the Christmas tree, crying so hard my parents were unable to understand my apology, but they reassured me I indeed was not getting a stocking full of coal. (Shoo! Close call.) Every Christmas Eve, I would fight my heavy eyelids. I would hazily drift off to dreamland with thoughts of remote control cars and soccer cleats, only to bolt awake in panic of missing Santa.  I knew giving in to sleep would make morning come sooner, but the anticipation of every child’s favorite day of the year kept my mind racing.

With only weeks remaining in her pregnancy, sleep is probably evading Reagan, too. Not because of a cheery, bearded man bearing gifts or a hungry, needy newborn (yet), but because of your spinning thoughts and wandering worries knowing labor is nearing. ‘But now is the time to catch up on sleep’, they say. How? When you’re weeks away from meeting your first child, your nervousness causes restlessness. Your mind jumps from thought to thought, rather than sheep to sheep, spinning your emotions into a bundle of excitement, impatience, butterflies and nerves.

Before crawling into bed (just to wrestle sleep), I would carefully choose the perfectly baked ginger cookies and stack them on Santa’s plate while Mom and Dad poured milk into a Welch’s jelly jar my sisters and I used as drinking glasses.  (My favorite one with the purple dinosaurs etched on the side, worn and nearly translucent with years of use.) I would memorize the placement of the cookies and make note of any minimal crumbs so when morning came, I’d know if Santa really did eat the cookies.

With a due date of December 25th, you ignore the negative murmurs of December birthdays and happily imagine the holiday season a year from now.  With one year of parenthood under your belt and a successful 1st birthday party complete, tiny toddler fingers will be 'helping' you hook plush ornaments on the tree and footed Christmas jammies will teeter at your feet while tugging on your flannels. Leftover birthday cake will be left by the fireplace for Santa instead of cookies, and without meaning to, a new tradition will begin.

At days break, I'd shoot up out of a slumber, upset that I fell asleep and slept through Santa's visit AGAIN. Eager to wake up the entire household, I’d start with my sisters who were in twin beds next to my makeshift bunk of carefully stacked couch cushions. It was our sibling tradition to sleep together on Christmas Eve, a memory I didn't fully appreciate until I grew older and recognized that as the baby of our family, my sisters continued the spirit of Santa solely for my sake. (If you ask them, I believed foreverrrrrrrr. Y’all, 12 years isn’t forever. I mean, 6. I totally meant 6.) We’d make our way downstairs as a family, me leading the way, bounding down the steps and skipping as many as physically possible.  I'd round the corner to a twinkling tree, stretched stockings, stripes and plaids and snowmen wrapping paper, and best of all, the unwrapped gift straight from Santa's workshop.  If not for the animated Christmas spirit of my nieces and nephews, I’d have to rely entirely on my own imagination to see the true essence of a child on Christmas morning. It absolutely is the most wonderful time of the year.

Deep down, you know it’s time. Still, you’ll probably time a few more contractions before waking Kyle from his deep slumber. In between the worsening pain, your excitement and fear will be replaced with a mental check list: hospital bag, CHECK; boppy pillow, CHECK; iPhone charger , CHECK; text photographer, CHECK!  Hours of wavering labor, genuine support from the nurses, multiple check-ins from your doctor and endless encouragement from Kyle, the anxiousness to meet your firstborn child is an emotional whirlwind.   It will be forever before you forget your tears of pain and joy and being completely overcome with a feeling that has yet to be defined when the Doctor raises up your baby and gleefully shouts, "It's a -------- !"

...To Be Continued...

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