The last few months of pregnancy have been surreal -- that's really the only word I can use to describe it. I wake up some mornings and for an instant, I forget that I have a belly with a baby in it, I forget that I'll be a mama soon, I forget that soon everything will change for better and worse.
Yes: better and worse. That's not a typo. I've written an essay on these topics that'll be published more broadly soon (YAY and #sorrytobesoelusive), but I haven't hidden such sentiments on this blog, either. I think pregnancy is incredibly complicated, and I want more women who are expecting a baby to feel like they can talk about their vacillating emotions without fear of judgment.
My highs are just as real as my lows; my thoughts span across every emotion.
I walk into the nursery slash second bedroom and touch blankets, toys, books, trying to imagine a person I haven't met yet breathing the same air as me soon. I fold a tiny onesie that says "I like naps and I like you." I consider teeny arms and legs with delight. I feel the baby move around, and I rest my hands on my belly with a soft smile of happiness. I feel the baby kick my ribs, and I sigh in annoyance because, ow, that shit hurts. I fill out the baby book my sisters gave me. I think about how baby books are kind of dumb. I tear up as I write down little stories that will be discovered later by our son or daughter. I complain about my back hurting. I tell everyone that I feel fine. I take a bath and stare at my stomach, feeling shock and wonder that there's really a baby in there. Like, for real.
I lose my breath trying to get out of bed to pee for the fifth time in two hours. I miss running. Ew, just kidding. I give our dog extra cuddles, because soon he won't be "the baby," poor thing. I wonder if I'll even be missed at work when I'm on maternity leave. I wonder if I'll hate being home for 12 weeks. I worry we'll pick the wrong name. I don't want to breastfeed. I can't wait to breastfeed. I bet it's a boy. I dream about it being a girl. I hope I know when I'm going into labor. I hope my water doesn't break at the office. I hope the baby comes tomorrow. I hope it comes in like three weeks.
I meet friends for dinner and wish I could go home and watch Netflix. I want to wear a sign that says, "Nope, haven't had the baby yet, OBVIOUSLY." I feel like punching people who say I barely look pregnant. I want to hug them, too, because compliments are nice. I pick a fight with my husband. I want to hug my husband every second. I sip coffee. I miss pants with buttons and zippers. I eat bagels and donuts. I drink three glasses of orange juice in a row. I watch hours of Netflix. I'm bored. I want a whiskey sour. I get frustrated walking up stairs. I don't think we'll ever save enough money for our kid to go to college. I'm thrilled by the sound of the baby's heartbeat thump, thump, thumping away at the midwives' office.
We go to all the childbirth classes, where they tell us things we'll forget until it's 2 a.m. and we have to Google the answers. We feel overwhelmed by the gifts and love at baby showers; it is too much and thank God for that. We set up a rocking chair and a crib and stare at both of them, trying to picture a baby, our baby, there. We get our car seat checked and give ourselves gold stars. We tour the daycare and laugh when the woman points out the parent mailboxes: who are those for? Not us. Everything is the "last": the last weekend not being a parent, the last evening I can go to yoga, the last morning sleeping in, the last date night out, the last time seeing my sister just us two.
Yes, I'm tired of being pregnant. Yes, it went by fast. Yes, we're excited. Yes, any day now.
No, we still don't know if it's a boy or girl. No, it doesn't feel real. No, we're terrified. No, we're not ready.
My best friend, who recently had twins, described these last months as maddening and special -- and those are really the best words I've heard about it. A dear, fellow yoga teacher and mama told me to take care of myself and let other people help me, because it's easy to make it all about the baby. A coworker advised me to forget about work and fall entirely into mom mode for a little bit, to really give this next phase my full attention. Another friend helped me celebrate a writing dream come true and reminded me that such opportunities won't go away just because there's a new addition to our family. And yet another friend mused, "You will be MORE you, in new and old ways both," and for that, I grieve and am filled with gratitude.
It's this odd period where you're waiting for everything to change but you don't know how it will feel or what it will look like. You're just standing with one foot in your old life and one foot in your new life as you practice patience and let go of all control. I've never experienced such a heightened edge of being, and it is both magical and mutable. I see a line from my non-mama self to my mama self up ahead, and I know that I'm slowly approaching it and that once I walk across, there will be no return. So I walk slow in faith, in trust, in love.