This little baby is nearly SEVEN months old – so in what should be a surprise to no one who has ever had a little baby in their life I’ve had no time to record any thoughts on early parenthood.
Here I sit, waiting (impatiently) to have my sweet little baby. No, not little baby…big baby. This kid measured in the 90th percentile for his cranial and 95th percentile for his abdominal…a big fat brainiac.
It is a Sunday, a beautiful Sunday not unlike the day I found out I was pregnant. I was due last Thursday the 7th, but am told it is totally normal for first babies to be late. Be that as it may, this waiting is bananas! If you thought you might feel emotional when you find out you’re pregnant, it doesn’t compare a bit to the rollercoaster you’re on while waiting to go into labor!
Eli and I were talking a few nights ago about these conflicting emotions and I think we made an important observation. We were discussing how excited we are for the baby to be born, to hold him and smell him and listen to him. We hear from every set of parents new and old that it is the best thing in the whole world, meeting your child for the first time. We trust that we will experience that sudden burst of love and joy and change. But at the same time, we both also had this ever so small but very present feeling of sadness, almost of mourning.
I brought it up first, that I felt guilty acknowledging this sad feeling because I should be so happy and feel so lucky – up until now both I and the baby have been healthy and normal through the whole pregnancy. Sadness shouldn’t have a place in my heart right now. I have nothing to mourn – no wild young and carefree life of partying and freedom that I’m being forced to bid farewell to. But yet I still felt true sadness, if ever so slightly.
But then Eli said, “I feel that way too, and I don’t think we should feel guilty at all.” Having your first baby is such a solid marker of the start to a new life. Of course elements of your pre-baby life continue on, you’re the same person, you’re with the same person, you live in the same house and have the same job and friends. But the nature of your life is irreversibly different in the biggest possible ways. That degree of change rocks your world and unhinges some of the strongest parts of your soul. That’s a lot to deal with. It is a feeling for YOURSELF, Eli said. You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a moment away from thinking about your baby so that you can feel something for yourself.
What an important reminder that self care truly IS caring for your family as well. You can’t be your best self for your family if you aren’t looking out for your physical and emotional well being. So the next night I tossed a bath bomb into the tub, slathered on some shower smoothie, put coconut oil in my hair and binged a few early Pam and Jim episodes of The Office. Daddio took me on a nice long walk this morning, and here I sit reaching around my giant abdomen to write down some thoughts during my last few days before birth while this sweet baby rolls around inside of me.
I’ll miss these quiet moments, but will cherish the memory forever. Sitting in our living room with sunlight streaming in, listening to cars drive by while my baby stretches and rolls around inside me. I’ll miss the little hiccups, I’ll miss his heel digging into my side and then him snatching them away when I push against him with my hand. I’ll miss resting my hands on my belly and talking to him about what his life will be like, how much his daddy loves him already, how many people are excited for him.
Most of all, his mama is very very excited to meet him.
Wow so, I totally intended to keep track of my entire pregnancy but then here I find myself at the beginning of the final trimester having missed the chance to write about the most wonderful moments of pregnancy so far! I guess the second trimester was too big a party for me to sit down and put words to keyboard.
But let me tell ya that is starting to change now that I’m transforming from a speed bump into more of a freeway center divide. Lord, pregnancy is not nearly as magical and organized as some people make it out to be – they’re all totally glossing over the mid sneeze pee squirts and laughing accompanied by perfectly timed farts and wild hunger rages. I for one find all of those things perfectly charming but could see them being difficult to glitterfy for the interwebz readers.
Keeping those thoughts in mind, I wanted to quickly plug two sources of child rearing brilliance that I’ve found myself thinking about nonstop from when I wake to when I fall into pregnant mouth breather slumber – Bringing up Bebe and Science of Mom.
I loved this book. It was the first parenting book I read after finding out I was expecting. I’d started to read a combo of pregnancy horror stories and perfect pinterest mommy blogs and, coupled with a few choices memories of nasty children I’d run into in the past, I was starting to accept that I may just be doomed to birth a monster. This book changed all that.
Pamela is, first of all, hilarious. The book reads like you’re talking to one of your best girlfriends – someone who you trust, who is honest, funny and well meaning. She shares common sense lessons she learned while bringing up her daughter and twin boys while she and her husband lived abroad in Paris. She covers everything from tricks to help your baby sleep through the night to the benefits of daycare and cooking with your child. The best part is, while you’d read the concept and think “oh God here’s another hoitsy toitsy ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’ piece of nonsense” you start reading it and she repeatedly addresses that fear! And puts it out of your mind! She’s a quirky American girl just like you, trying to make it in a world of toned arms French high-heeled preggos! I bought one for my own mother so she’d be on board for when our baby is born.
I’m only about halfway through this one and truly can’t stop thinking about it, day and night. The biggest benefit (aside from the infinite wisdom Dr. Callahan shares throughout the book) is that her approach is as gentle and non-judgey as you could ever want. Her whole point is that while you should do what feels right for your baby, you should also be able to consider cold hard facts based on real, trustworthy scientific research – so here’s how you can tell what research is trustworthy and why.
She covers everything from whether to get the vitamin K shot (Eli: “Is that like what’s in Special K cereal?”) to why babies have trouble sleeping through the night early on to breastfeeding and lots more. You know when you go for your doctor appointment at the OB’s office and they ask if you have any questions and you think “UH YES WHAT THE HECK I’VE NEVER HAD A BABY BEFORE OF COURSE I DO BUT HOW COULD I POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK OTHER THAN HOW DO YOU BIRTH THE CHILD AND KEEP IT ALIVE FOREVER?” Well once you read this book, you can feel so much more ready and at ease with material to chat to your doctor about. Everyone can be on the same page, and you don’t need to feel like your doctor is internally rolling her/his eyes at you when you ask about whether you can sit in an essential oil filled bathtub while a medicine woman whispers Enya songs into your ear amidst the candle light during child birth.
The best thing I’ve been told through this whole experience, which was only reinforced by reading these two books, is that every pregnancy is different, and every parent is different. As long as you prioritize the safety and happiness of your baby using advice from your DOCTOR and your mom (as long as your mom isn’t wacko), then you’re doing it right. Or…as right as any of us know how to do it.
Two months ago, on a Sunday morning, I wrote this entry. Reading it again makes me smile – I remember all of these feelings vividly. Yowza! Here it is!
(Two months earlier…)
Or so say two tests so far this morning. So says my sore boobs and my heartburn. So says how hyper-conscious I am of feelings in my lower abdomen. So says mood swings. So says the fact that I could smell peanut butter on my husband’s breath while he sat 6 feet away from me eating Reeses pieces on soft serve.
I’ve thought for the last few days that this might be the one that took. I’ve been experiencing all those feelings I listed but writing them off. The boob pain and tiny cramps and mood swings (did anyone else cry that hard in “Inside Out?”) were part of PMS. The heartburn was due to the embarrassing amount of chili I ate over the past week for lunch every day. The heightened smell isn’t heightened smell – it is just my undying love for peanut butter based candy. I didn’t want to take the last test in the house because I didn’t want to get my hopes up – I’d resolved to waiting another 2-3 weeks before I knew FOR SURE that my period was more than just late. But I woke up this morning after a restless sleep and just wanted to know. So I took the test and let it sit alone in the bathroom for 5 minutes. I came out to the living room and had a glass of water, looked around on facebook, read an article about how Donald Trump is a menace for the GOP.
Then I went back into our bathroom. I closed my eyes, picked up the test, and expected to be disappointed. But there was the word “Yes.” There was the plus sign. Is that really what it says? Look away from the test then look back again. It still says “YES.” Yes. Yes as in yes you are not pregnant, like you expected? No. Yes as in your eggo is preggo. There was lots of crying. There were a few expletives. There was lots of pacing. There were many double, triple takes back at the test. I took a picture, just to be sure. Then I went to the store, bought coconut water and 2 more tests and came home. Took one more test, did some laundry, came back to check and there was another plus sign.
This is so surreal. I fear getting my hopes up about this being true – could I actually be pregnant? Could all these signs and those two tests be right? Why isn’t my doctor ready and available on a Sunday morning? I need to know for sure right now this very minute. I want this to be true. If it isn’t true, its ok. We’re young and healthy and have plenty of time.
But if it is true, whoa. How do you be pregnant? How do you mother another human, for whom you are the one and only mother? How do you share parenthood, share another person, with your partner? Will I be a good mom? Will Eli be a good dad? You fall in love with someone really hard in a way that feels like you fell and can never get back up but you’re ok with it – you love them more than anything. And part of those feelings make you say things like “You’ll be such a good dad one day.” But until it is actually true and it is time for him to be a dad aren’t you sort of only just saying it? I’m sure he will be a good dad.
I’ve been reading about pregnancy all morning and several youtube doctors have told me that one cup of coffee per day is ok. But I feel guilty drinking this coffee. This is so weird. (Editors note: I didn’t finish the coffee. It gave me heartburn and I felt holier-than-thou/moral-high-ground-y throwing it down the drain.)
I want to tell everyone I know – I want to tell Eli and my mom and my sisters and my friends and his parents and our grandparents right now. But wouldn’t that be irresponsible? Shouldn’t I wait to hear from a doctor first? I’m already making rash decisions – what will happen when I have to decide on behalf of this new human. Did I just feel a kick? Can cells kick? I’m going nuts.
I feel restless. I’ve already done a bunch of laundry, but I should clean the kitchen too. I should start cleaning out the second bedroom – there’s only so much time before another person will live in there. (Editors note: The second bedroom still looks like Hiroshima.) I should do more laundry. There are drums everywhere in this house – they take up so much space. What if this new person is a drummer too? Will I die by drowning in drums? Will life ever be quiet again?
Maybe this is what its like to do drugs – I feel crazy and restless but calm and introspective all at the same time. I keep thinking to myself that for the only time in the rest of my life during these last few hours before Eli gets home, it is just me and the baby. We’re the only two people in existence who know about each other. Wow. “The baby.” The baby.
The baby will grow up into a person who lives and makes decisions and mistakes and creates things no one else has created or will create. The baby will be unique. The baby will be loved by us, by their friends, by their partner. Maybe the baby will get married and have their own babies one day. My friend just sent me a picture of Vice President Biden leaning down to greet Sasha Obama as the President and First Lady look on. Beau Biden is standing behind the Vice President, smiling. He was a baby once, and he lived an amazing life, but then he got sick. How can parents have children and not be terrified with every fiber of their being that their baby won’t get sick one day. I feel so overwhelmed, I feel like I could burst.
This is scary but this is exciting. I love being alone in knowing about this – I love that the baby and I are the only ones who know right now – alone in the world. But I can’t wait until Eli gets home.