Pregnancy Dispatch from Week 16

I've been playing a little game around my office called "let's see how long it takes for people to notice..." Granted, I don't often see my co-workers as we all have private offices, but we do pass each other in the halls from time to time. Maybe it's not as apparent as it feels--and it feels like I'm 200 weeks pregnant. I suspect that I'm still in that zone where asking about a pregnancy just seems like a serious faux pas, like saying "you are either pregnant or you have a bad case of elephantiasis of the abdomen." My view.

Outside my window it's snowing, again. I have seen enough of this white, this slushy brown, this endless stream of cloud dandruff, and (like everyone, I know) long for spring. The passage of time is marked by my expectations for a waxing belly, rolling its way into summer. Late summer, folks, showtime. I see my clients and friends with their big bellies. They let me put my hands on them to palpate the baby's position. I feel those babies move like dolphins under the surface of the water. Mom's belly is taut and rippling. Together we listen with my fetoscope to the rapid badumbadumbadum of a baby's heart.

It's too soon to use it on myself--I should hear something by mid-March. By then I should also be feeling the baby move. We don't call it the baby, we have a name, but it feels like a secret name so I won't divulge. With no audible heartbeat and no fluttering I still feel like I'm just myself, just me and all the bacteria that share this ripening planet I call my body.

Pregnancy has been surprisingly easy. Most of the weight I gained was in the first trimester, during which I had a ravenous insane hunger that led me to crave hot dogs and chicken nuggets and Big Macs (I ate none of these things). I wanted that glorious triad of salt, fat, and protein. I obsessed over Mexican food and taught myself how to make chiles rellenos and pepita sauce. The next week all I wanted was Thai and I managed to pull off a phenomenal Tom Kha, then homemade Pad Thai complete with hand-macerated tamarind sauce. I get into these exquisite hungers that motivate me to make amazing things that I then get to eat.

Since the start of the second trimester I almost feel normal. The nausea of the first few months--which immediately disappeared as soon as I ate the glorious triad--was manageable. I've gotten used to waking up a million times a night and can't say that I'm all that fatigued. Aside from the odd weight of a belly and the fact that none of my pants fit, it could be life as usual. Alhamdulillah.

Ok wait, easy except for the onslaught of doubt, the questioning of my identity, and my fears over loss of autonomy, that I'll be a terrible mother, that I'll forget the baby in the locked car with my keys inside, etc. How could I forget that! These feelings are precariously counterbalanced by excitement, a desire to get to know this mystery person X, and the thought of playing dress up with mini-me and maternal, gooshy love.

These feelings are good. They're confusing, yes, and at times crazy-making, but mostly they just help me get to where I'm going and make me better able to understand what other moms go through. I'm getting a tremendous amount of experiential learning. I've started seeing a midwife, the same midwife that I myself often attend births with. She knows me well. She explains step by step everything she does so that I can learn all that I can learn. I watched patiently as she drew my blood last Saturday, and I helped fill out the labels for the vials. I can take my own blood pressure with my own cuff and stethoscope. It makes it easier, knowing a bunch of stuff already, but there's still an insane amount that I have to figure out. Like, pediatricians, vaccinations, bilingualism, elimination communication, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, covering our hell-hot radiators and figuring out how to get enough fetal exposure to farm animals to ensure my child's healthy immune system.

I feel you, parents. Mothers who want what's best for your babies and are freaked out by all the people saying and doing conflicting things, I get it big time. People who aren't actually sure whether this is a good idea but are forging ahead anyways, yes, we are on the same page. I see all you people with your maternal (and paternal) gooshy love and patience and assurances that this is the hardest and best thing in the entire world, and I choose to believe you.

In the meantime, snow, ripening planets, dolphins, more births, and maybe some stirring tulip bulbs and my own baby in a few weeks.


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