The last year and a half has been a crazy, scary, joyful journey. Westley has been part of my life for eighteen months and it’s hard to believe he wasn't always here. My little man-person will be nine months old tomorrow, and it feels like such a milestone. He looks more and more like a little boy every day, moving out of babyhood as he works to eat, talk, and move on his own. He has been outside my body as long as he was inside it. I'm looking back and looking forward at the same time.
Six Weeks Pregnant
I leave my seat at the front desk to call the midwives' office from the small, windowless Interview Room. My hands are shaking as I talk to the woman at the office's answering service.
"How far along are you?" she asks.
"Uh, about...five and a half weeks," I say, suddenly self-conscious about having to think in Pregnancy Math, which is not like Regular Math.
Silence on the other end of the phone. I stared down at the scrap of paper I'd brought in with me. I'd written my own phone number at the top, because I always forget it when asked by someone I can't see.
Her voice came back suddenly. "Birth date?"
"I'm due November twenty-eighth, oh-seven." A number from an online generator, memorized since the afternoon the two purple lines appeared on the pee-stick.
"No, your birthday."
"Oh, uh...um..." I should have written that down on the scrap paper, too.
Three Months Pregnant
We have dinner with Rob's parents at the vegan pizzeria and tell them, and his mother promptly tells everyone. I'm so angry at her, and angry at Rob for not also being angry with her. She shared news that was not hers to share, and deprived him the opportunity to introduce his unborn child to the family personally! I'd imagined Rob calling his grandfather in Alaska and receiving congratulations and old-fashioned-sounding advice, whatever the baby-having equivalent of "don’t go to bed angry" is.
After saying good-bye to my in-laws that evening, I throw up. I’d been feeling sick almost constantly for weeks and in a crazy way, it's rewarding to finally have my nausea validated.
Now everything makes me feel like vomiting. Thoughts of feeding my fetus salads and whole grains and fresh things disintegrate. I get on food-jags and eat basically one thing for a week or so, until it starts to repulse me completely, and then I find something new: tomato-and-Vegenaise sandwiches, hard pretzels and lemonade, plain bagels with Tofutti cream cheese, bean burritos (from Taco Bell), soy yogurt and soy pudding, veggie burgers and fries, pounds and pounds of melon...
Four Months Pregnant
I thought I would feel pregnanter by now.
Five Months Pregnant
What is my body doing, anyway? Incubating a tiny human being. How did I get here? Being twenty-four, reasonably healthy and having lots of sex, for starters. Oh. Right.
Rob measures years in Christmases. If someone is in prison for ten years, he thinks, that's ten Christmases. When I think about Christmas, it sinks in that there will be a tiny, newborn human being in my house, and I begin to feel my future shifting. It's like the way I felt after getting married. The wedding is supposed to be The Day, and it's built up as a Happily-Ever-After with no mention of the enormous journey that follows. A couple's future as parents is similarly misshapen. So often the idea is about having children, not having a child. But that little heartbeat, that thwump-thwump-thwump underwater rave coming through the doppler, belongs to a little individual. A single new person who will make Rob a father, and me a mother.
Rob puts his hand on my belly just in time to feel three strong kicks from something round and firm, like there's a hard-boiled egg pushing on me. This is not a future-tense family. We have a child.
I'm hoisting my carry-on suitcase into the overhead bin when the woman behind me says, "Here, let me help you. I remember what that was like." I'm almost six months pregnant and it’s the first time a stranger has noticed and said anything to me. I feel sort of elated, and the baby kicks for most of the long flight.
My college girlfriends, whom I'm visiting for five days, are pissed as hell that I didn't tell them right away. We make up almost immediately, and they determine that since there are five of us and three beds, the expectant mother should get the bed by herself. They make sure I have rice milk for my cereal, and Sarah tries to listen to the baby with her stethoscope. Choosing names quickly turns from the classic and plausible to the ridiculous.
They don't care that I got pregnant kind of on purpose but mostly by accident. They like to think that I was trying, because "trying" sounds so official and grown-up. I guess I'm the grown-up in the group now.
Seven Months Pregnant
Unless I'm naked or wearing something with an empire waist, I still don't really look pregnant, and it makes me want to cry. I have belly fat rolls instead of a baby belly. I wasted too many years being fat, and worked very hard to lose weight before I got pregnant, and now, instead of looking cure and pregnant, I just look fat again.
It's fucking unfair.
Eight and a Half Months Pregnant
People at work keep asking if I'm ready. The question makes it sound like there's a disaster coming and I should be stocking up on canned goods and bottled water. Ready. The word alone suddenly has me feeling certain there's something I haven't thought of. Something pivotal. Of course, it doesn't help that we really have nothing for the baby. Not even a house.
Rob and I are moving out of our house soon. I've been hesitant to buy anything until we have a place to put it. The tiny, windowless nursery in our apartment used to be the laundry room, but things have been rewired, water has been redirected, and doors have been installed. One of the walls is painted swimming pool blue. Very serene.
There is nothing calm about my life right now. After three months of no work and waiting for a phone call, crossing fingers, and agonizing over interviews, Rob has a job. A good job. A job that is going to take care of us, make everything okay. It's both a huge sigh of relief and a question mark. A new home, a new job, a new baby.
If I'm not ready, I'd better get there fast.
Nine Months Pregnant
The sun is setting outside, but all I see is black. My eyes are closed, and I press my teeth together, feeling pain in the darkness. Pulling like a rubber band stretched taught. Contracting. Is this it? I exhale. I slowly open my eyes. I look at my husband and wait one minute. Ten minutes. Nothing.
I try to keep my mind clear and calm, try not to get excited at the prospect of labor or disappointed by another painful Braxton-Hicks contraction. I feel a heel digging into my ribcage on the right side, and picture the baby upside down, its head pressing me open from the inside. I wonder if concentration and mental toughness can make my cervix start to dilate. I wish there were more I could do. All there is to do is wait...