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The Bloom of Anticipation

By Jackie Kelleher

Hydrangeas are my flower of anticipation. Every summer as I pass them, my heart remembers the weeks leading up to the homebirth of my youngest. While I was an experienced doula and more prepared than most, my enormous belly convinced me that my baby would arrive early. By mid-June, a week before my due date, I was harvesting heaps of hydrangeas from my garden and arranging them throughout the house so I’d be surrounded with beauty when the time came. 

The flowers wilted again and again, and  I replaced the water and replenished the supply. The heat grew oppressive and the hydrangeas and I both wilted. Days passed, then weeks. Three weeks after my due date, in mid-July, I birthed my final child surrounded by loved ones and blue and purple blooms.

Every year since then, my heart softens when they bloom. I feel something reminiscent of my initial surge of anticipation as I harvested them. I feel a flutter. It’s twelve years later, and my heart remembers.

What it remembers is the anticipation. The waiting and wondering. Not just the when and how of the birth, but the person entering our lives. Blessed with a healthy child, the potential was boundless. Anything and everything was possible while he was forming inside me, and later thriving at my breast. Weeks, months, certainly years later, the endless potential had been refined. It turns out that I’ve created yet another human–flawed, like the rest of us. This little human disliked vegetables, and rarely slept in those early years.

This real person is brimming with potential, a different potential, because it’s real. Mine is now an evolved adoration–love of the person who actually is, rather than a person who might be. A realistic, more accepting love. 

Yet, when solstice comes and I see those tight purple and green buds, I remember the anticipation. Passing them as I walk toward the door I still taste the delicious, limitless unknown that my heart apparently still yearns. And then I head inside and love the person he is.

Jackie Kelleher has worked in the birth and early parenting field since 1995. Her career is a tapestry of family-support: doula, lactation counselor, childbirth educator, community organizer, author, doula trainer, and early parenting support group facilitator. The second edition of her book, Nurturing the Family, comes out this fall.