The other night was lonely for me. We moved the baby from the cradle in our room to her crib in her own room. Gary was up late working and monitoring the baby and I was by myself sleeping for the first time in months. It was an emergency move, precipitated by an unseasonable cold snap– our bedroom is the coldest spot in the house, and its temperature drops 10 degrees during the night even with the heat on, even with new insulation in the attic and a new double-paned window and thermal curtains. I missed propping myself up on my elbow to peek at her, and hearing her little sleep grunts and groans.
Other than my emotions, there’s not really any good reason to keep Abigail in our room. Dr. G’s alarm goes off five or six times when he needs to wake up. The poorly designed plumbing runs through the bedroom walls, making showers and toilet flushes abominably loud. She is a big baby and restless as she falls asleep or wakes, though she now sleeps most of the night. The cradle is the kind that rocks, and even though it is stabilized with pegs (and paper jammed around them), she rattles it with her wiggles and wakes herself up. She scoots up and bangs her head on the headboard, pulls down the bumper, and once got her leg stuck between the cradle’s slats, despite said bumper.
But moving her to another room means the end of one of my cherished rituals. After nursing Abigail in the wee hours of the morning, I stay up awhile longer to pump and catch up on an internet TV show. It is nice to be up alone in the house, with no one to watch or be watched by, no imminent happenings or chores to be done. Then it is even nicer to go back into the quiet room where my husband and baby are sleeping, listen to the long, peaceful breaths of one and the tiny, peaceful breaths of the other, and think, “This is my family.”
Well, I’m in the final countdown now with the pregnancy. About 6 and half weeks left to go. Pregnancy has been really weird. I work very hard to create realistic expectations, but boy, was I way off on this one. Realism was not enough to prepare me for the reality of my particular pregnancy.
I didn’t expect pregancy to be the defining factor of my existence. I expected it to be a somewhat inconvenient but interesting period of anticipation. You know, last hurrahs of the old independent life, getting ready for the new parent life. In fact, I lived more or less as an invalid for the first six months– first due to doctor restrictions on a high risk pregnancy, then due to severe and ongoing nausea. For so many days and weeks and months my daily agenda was 1. Be pregnant and 2. try to do one other thing. The nausea hasn’t totally abated, but now I can mow the lawn, eat a meal, or get up quickly from the couch without retching. FREEDOM! It looks like the freedom may be shortlived as more late pregancy symptoms crop up, but by golly I’m going to live like a functional adult while I can.
I didn’t expect my self-identity to be so affected. I was suprised by how much my sense of self turned out to be determined by my body. I thought of myself as a person with a certain energy level, capable of doing x kinds of things, with y appearance, and z tastes in food etc. Having all this go out the window virtually at once has been shocking. I remember many days feeling like, “who am I again?” For many months the only outward physical sign of pregnancy was a rapidly increasing bra size, coupled with a rapidly shrinking pants size due to weight loss. I had the hips I remembered from college but something all new going on up front. I didn’t get over feeling self-concious about it until my belly grew big enough to stick out further than my chest, at around 6 and a half months. For some reason that configuration seems more… acceptable?
I didn’t expect so many people to be so deeply interested in my pregancy. In the past, when friends have gotten pregnant, I have felt excited for them and interested in the changes in their lives, but not necessarily yearning for gory details or anything like that. I kind of thought that everyone was that way and thus have been careful not to burden most people with too much pregnancy info. After all, people procreate every day, and just because I think my baby is special, I didn’t expect anyone other than the grandmothers to think that too. But it has been a nice surprise to have some friends and family kindly insist, through questions, prayers, gifts, information, and other kinds of support that they really do care about the details.
I didn’t expect pregnancy to be so political. I probably should have,though. We all know that’s true for childrearing, but it actually starts much earlier. There are moral opinions on everything from how one gets pregnant (or doesn’t), to how you act while you are pregnant, to childbirth and delivery. While my friends and family don’t burden me with judgment or unasked for advice, I have stepped into a few landmines here and there with people I don’t know as well. I have offended a bit with the occasional parasite joke or irreverent attitude towards my own pregnancy. People who have found pregnancy to be a special, even sacred, experience don’t go for my jokes much. Why would I laugh at CREATING NEW LIFE? For me, though, thinking that building a new human bit by bit is pretty amazing coexists just fine with a few eye-rolls. It’s part of learning to appreciate the experience. As I’m sure, when the baby is born, I will obsessively and completely adore every centimeter of her, and also find time to poke fun at her monkey toes or the weird sounds she makes when she poops. Note to Baby: come out pretty soon so I can hear the gross sounds you make!