I'm officially 9 months pregnant (or 39 weeks and 4 days to be precise) and due in three days time. Other than the sheer surreal quality of being in this position, I am pretty certain that there is no way I'll be delivering this baby in the next week or so. That gut feeling was seconded by my doctor's considerably more professional opinion yesterday. Granted there is no way to tell for sure, but this baby seems small, healthy and happy where he is. I am happy to keep him there too--as I am still teaching and under the inevitable end of semester pressures and constraints, I haven't had the time I'd like to prepare fully for this new arrival, and I'd like him to be more comfortably over 7 lbs when he's born. Last week he was 6 lbs, 9 oz, which is fine but a lot below average and I worry about his low birth weight.
Granted I had nine months to prepare, but superstition and maybe caution prevented me from fully splurging on all those infant needs in case this dream ended in tragedy (and I still fear having nothing to bring home). I also want to be ecologically sound and not fall into too many consumerist traps (nice as so many baby items are, they grow fast and the money is perhaps best invested elsewhere in their future). As a result, I have no baby monitor (we live in an apt), no cot, no moses basket/bassinet, no nappy/diaper bag as I thought many of these could either wait or were unnecessary extravagances. It appears I may have been wrong on several fronts, based on advice from friends and family, so it looks like I really will have to place some of those Babies R Us orders, keep my fingers crossed that they get here stat and that baby stays where he is evidently so comfortable until we at least get our pushchair (the kind with its own car seat as we live in a world where non-car owners like us still have to have them so we can get home from the hospital--part of me thinks hospitals should just rent them out but I can imagine that could get really complicated fast).
As for me, I selfishly want him to stay where he is. I dearly hope he'll have a sister in the not too distant future (plan is to try to wean him late summer so I can get on the expensive, stressful and generally yucky IVF/FET roundabout again), but I'm aware this might be it. And as tough as this pregnancy was for the first 6 or so months, the last trimester hasn't been that bad, even with gestational diabetes limiting my diet and making me hungry, crabby, hormonal, sad and frustrated for the first 6 weeks of very restrictive eating and regular finger prick blood sugar checks. As of yesterday, when I weighed in at the doctors 2 lbs lighter than the week before, I've put on 11 lbs--that is, 11 lbs on my post-IVF bloated body--of which around 7 lbs is the baby (then there's the placenta, extra blood, etc). But even as I feel like a beached whale who can't roll over in bed or get off the floor or couch, touch my toes properly, put on tights/leggings/jeans without some strange bending manoeuvres or fasten my shoes without contorting myself, I kind of want this pregnancy to go on a little longer to look after this boy, have him close (even when he kicks me under the ribcage or makes me short of breath) and experience this unique sensation just a little longer. I'm even slightly envious of those women who are in their first trimester as I know they will have this special time for months. So even with all the vomiting, the sickness and other difficulties I've encountered, I want to do this again. In all honesty, I'd start sooner but I need time for this baby and for my body to recover, be rested and ready to take on this hard work again.
I never thought I'd feel this way as this has not been an easy pregnancy--nausea, vomiting, major food aversions (basically I could only barely stomach scones, potatoes, fruit and homemade lemonade for about 15 weeks) dogged me from early April to late August. In conjunction with the exhaustion I was left wondering how people do this and work--or even survive. And, yes, the third trimester has been relatively easy but I assumed I'd want this to be over especially given my breathlessness, diabetes (which, might I add, is also expensive with supplies, doctor's appointments and the very limited and pricey food I have ended up eating) and the odd discomforts and pains that it brings with it. Granted being relatively small makes it easier to sleep and I am also intimidated by what will come next, but I do want to keep this baby this close for a little longer.
I also don't have a clue what I'll do--we'll do--when he arrives other than muddle through and work something out like every parent before us. I cannot believe that he will need the smallish pile of clothing we've already amassed, nor that he'll be sleeping in our room in a few weeks or maybe a few days. I have no idea what labour will feel like, if/when it will start, how far away I'll be from home and the pile of stuff that needs to go to the hospital with me (from cord blood kit to my shampoo--that bag is still not packed but the pile of stuff is getting bigger). Friends have teased me with the cliches of bad comedies, but part of me fears either waking up in agony at 3 am and not being able to get a car service to the hospital because I'm in labour and they don't want their seats ruined, or having my labour start in front of my class or on the subway with all my necessary stuff (especially the cord blood kit) back in my apt and Evan being unreachable. My amazing doctor will also be away next week so I just hope everything holds off until he is back. But that comes with a price--less time postpartum with this child before I return to teach in late January, and a near Christmas day birthday for the poor infant (I guess at this point, that's beyond completely unavoidable).
When I embarked on this journey too many years ago, I knew what I wanted and what I thought I'd get--a girl born in the summer. When I was a child, I had that gut feeling that I'd have girls and only girls. As I matured and learned the facts of reproduction (or at least the selected few they bothered to teach at my very strict all girls school, replete with their own ideological scare tactics), I discovered that women did not control the sex of their offspring. But somehow it was a shock to discover that this baby was not the girl we all thought she'd be (the sickness, the symptoms all conformed to what I already knew to be old wives tales about girl pregnancies), putting me in the process of further recalibrating what maternity and mothering might mean. I also did not want a child to be born close to Christmas--my grandfather and several very close friends were born around this time of year and all agreed it was far from ideal, especially as a child. And as someone whose birthday is as far away from Christmas as it's possible to get, I was always very pleased and proud of an achievement that was entirely not mine. At the moment, it seems a distinct possibility that he could be a Christmas baby, so I think I've already started the process of realizing that motherhood is not about careful planning, our desires, and long term wishes but something entirely new that requires constant adaptation and going with the flow while still providing the necessary nurturing, guidance and structure. I've been surprised at least twice--surprised that I was indeed pregnant, surprised that our baby was not the little girl whose names we'd begun to pick--and now I'll be surprised whenever he arrives and whomever he turns out to be.
Jonas Mekas on Sharing Film
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