Week 25, and I am on top of the world. No longer exhausted, not yet enormous. Right on cue, the nesting urge I’ve heard about kicks into overdrive. I spend hours in the nursery arranging tiny T-shirts and miniature miniskirts into teetering piles. I do laundry, shop, organize drawers, clean closets, make lists and spend countless hours scouring cybermalls for the ultimate blanket, the perfect burp cloth. I scrub, scour and sanitize at all hours of the day and night. You could eat off my baseboards.
I’m also getting very used to my pregnant body and like when people comment on it. “When are you due?” they ask me in the grocery store, at the gym, on the street. I am proud of the bump in my belly and show it off in tight tops and low-rise pants. I order rich desserts without guilt for the first time in years. Then, almost overnight, I am exhausted again. I get winded walking up a single flight of stairs and fall back into my first-trimester napping schedule.
“I’m done,” I announce to my OB-GYN at my week-35 appointment. I mean it, too. I am tired and cranky and, all of a sudden it seems, huge. I sleep in two-hour bursts and crave sweets around the clock. I am down to two outfits that I feel remotely unmammothlike in, I have an overwhelming desire not to exercise, my pelvis is swollen, and even the short waddle to the bathroom is uncomfortable.
“You have five more weeks!” my doctor reminds me cheerfully. I’ve been pregnant for six years, I whine silently. I want to sleep on my stomach. I want to go to Pilates. I want to put on my own socks. And I really, really want a margarita.
Week 37 arrives and we are ready—just in case. We have preregistered at the hospital, we’ve packed our bags, and the only thing missing from the nursery is an actual baby. I start having contractions, but instead of getting stronger and more regular, they wane after two days. By week 39 I am beyond surly. We walk the hill behind our house nightly, go out of our way to drive bumpy back roads and have lots of (clumsy, utilitarian) sex. Still, no stork.
Maddeningly, my due date comes and goes. A full week later, I am still having contractions. Then, miraculously, they begin to get stronger. “That one really hurt!” I squeal with delight after a particularly smarting pang. (I’ve clearly lost my mind at this point.)
“Is this it?” Joe asks, looking slightly alarmed.
“I think so,” I tell him.
The magnitude of it all hits me like a cartoon anvil over the head: In a matter of hours or days, this baby finally will be outside my body and—hallelujah!—I won’t be pregnant anymore. I will look into my daughter’s face for the first time and fall in love in a way I’ve only imagined until now. I am about to become someone’s mom. I don’t know what that will feel like, but I do know that my life will never, ever be the same.