The three-and-a-half inch little lemon (citrus fruit size comparison of the week) inside of me is moving.
Of course, he or she has been wiggling around from the get-go. But now the wiggles are broad and distinctive enough for me to feel them. It's one of the perks of not being a first-timer: apparently moms who have been pregnant before are able to detect fetal movement weeks earlier than when expecting their first babies.
Making her- or himself known
There is a reasonable physiological explanation for this: Because I grew so accustomed to Sylvia's movements in utero, I'm better at recognizing her sibling's. Back then, I probably assumed her pirouettes were my own stomach rumblings. But there's an alternate, let's say, psycho-social-familial theory I'd like to put out there, too: Second or subsequent sibs know they have competition in the attention department, so they make bigger, more noticeable movements sooner. Because otherwise, their moms might, say, forget about their very existences.
For instance: The first time I was sure I felt this one--and I'm clearly going to have to come up with something better than Little Lemon--it was 4 in the morning, and I was having a horrible night's sleep. Aron and I both came down with a cold, only mine seems to have stuck. Rhinitis of pregnancy, anybody? Ugh. Anyway, I was tossing and turning myself, coming in and out of a restless sleep with thoughts of work and Sylvia's lingering cough and an upcoming trip and an honest-to-goodness nightmare about Mr. Rogers. In the middle of it all, I felt the most graceful, but insistent, nudge. An elbow? Or at this size, probably a foot, grazing the inner wall of my uterus. As if to say, "I don't mean to disturb you, but (ahem) then there's me."
I love feeling the baby move. I mean, duh--who wouldn't. But I especially love it right now. I feel pulled in a bunch of different directions this week, and it's very easy for my pregnancy to get lost in the shuffle. My nausea is pretty much gone (a stomach bug seemed to usher it out the door, only to welcome in the sinus infection), so I don't have that tangible connection to my pregnancy that I did a few weeks ago. And hallelujah for that.
But meanwhile, the weeks are passing and the reality that I am having a baby in October is still somewhat hard to grasp. So maybe my little Lemon Ice King (or Queen) of Corona psychically caught on, and realized it was time to start hustling.
Making sense (or not) of birth order
I'm a second child myself, and can identify facets of my personality that feel driven by my not being the oldest. (A little grabby for attention, a little wisecracky, a little I'll-go-my-own-way.) So there's a temptation to project all sorts of that sibling stuff onto this baby, and onto Sylvia.
It's strange to imagine Sylvia as an older sib. I can relate to her behavior in so many ways--from the cuddly affectionate moments to the worst temper tantrums--and I just wonder what it will be like to see her in a sibling role that's not my own. Does it mean I'll reflexively take my second child's side in disputes? Feel a connection that much more quickly? More power to him or her if it's true, since tipping the scales even slightly away from Sylvia--my first and (at times) overpowering baby love--will only help to balance things out.
The question of the hour
An esteemed colleague of mine asked if the baby's movements felt like boy kicks or girl kicks. The answer is that I have no freaking idea. I am sure, once I find out the baby's sex in a few weeks, I will be able to extrapolate backwards and say, "Yes! Definitely a girl kick" or the opposite, but for now? Nada. I have been feeling a little more boy-ish lately. But that could be just my own inner prep-work for the shocking possibility that the baby could be, you know, a boy.
I still have a slight squeamishness about the idea of having a boy. You know--boys. Eww. But then I remember my 20-week ultrasound with Sylvia. I was pretty sure she was a girl before we went in. But then, lying there in the darkened room with the cool goop on my belly, the technician scanning for the more important organs, and Aron holding my hand, I squinted at the screen and was sure I saw a penis. And Aron thought he saw it, too. (We somehow communicated this without saying it out loud.) Holy crap, I thought. A boy. What am I going to do with a boy? But then images of the sweet boys I know tumbled through my mind, and most of all the stunning realization that Aron was once a boy, just a sweet little skinny boy, one I wish I'd known back then. And then it was: A boy! We're having a boy!
Until the technician actually spoke. "She's a girl," she said, and proceeded to point out all of Sylvia's girl parts. And you know? I actually had the gall to have a moment's disappointment. Until I caught myself and laughed. And then it all seemed right.
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.
Next week: The first and last mini-family vacation.