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Every once in a while, I can take my focus away from my whiny, petulant navel, and get a fresh, philosophical breath of air. This week it came as a gift from a pregnant friend who's due in a few days. I said something about being ready to no longer be pregnant--the physical discomforts, that I can't roll over on my belly, that I can't play or snuggle with Sylvia in the way I'm used to. She said while she knew what I meant, that she had really enjoyed her pregnancy--this might be her only child, she said, and this time has been very special for her. Feeling her baby move around, knowing that he's right there, experiencing the joy of impending motherhood.
"Oh right," I said. "That."
Feeling the love
I see how people look at me, these days. It's the same way I've always gazed at women in their third trimesters. Wistful, a warm smile, some giddiness. I try to be graceful about receiving these well-intentioned glances. Sometimes I feel deserving of it, like I'm right there with them in baby nostalgia land. But others it takes me a moment to figure out why I'm being looked at so openly. I honestly forget that I'm not just normal, anonymous me.
Still other times it makes me downright uncomfortable to be the focus of anyone's attention, especially when the focus is related to my protruding midsection. But those are probably not such great days, anyway; my squirmy reaction just a symptom of my bad mood / malaise / general dissatisfaction with myself. You know--just that sector of my charming personality. Some days it's a distant remnant of eighth grade; some days (fewer and fewer all the time, really!) it's where I live.
My friend's happy feelings about her own pregnancy reminded me that in fact, I have not been grimacing internally or externally when I get those warm and fuzzy smiles at the market. That really, you know what? Me too! Me too--that I've been enjoying more about the pregnancy than I've been not enjoying; that the not-enjoying moments are almost purely physical and transitory in nature, and therefore don't measure up in either quantity or quality to the happy feelings I've had, communing with this new baby, being a careful, loving vessel for a growing child.
I can see the future
Thinking along these lines the other day, I flashed forward to years from now, the kids grown or at least older, maybe in high school, and how this future self of mine would look back on these years--my childbearing years. I realized, with a sort of slap to the head, that I will think of these years not as when I had this or that work deadline, or when all of my books were in boxes waiting for construction to begin on our office cabin, or especially not "remember that day, when it was so hot, and my hips kind of hurt?" No. I'll think of this time as "when I was having my babies."
So even though the past almost four years of first expecting Sylvia, and then living with her, have mostly been measured in moments and days; that even though the forest of getting pregnant this time, and then being pregnant, has been obscured by all of the many trees of daily existence; that even though sometimes--about to bend over to pick something up off the floor, or make a plan for the week of October 4--I can still forget that I even am pregnant; all of those things still true, my future self will see the larger truth: these are the years I'll have spent being pregnant with, giving birth to, caring for, and loving the sweet, smart, beautiful people who are my babies. And what could be better?
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.