Warning: I haven't yet posted much about what it's like being pregnant, but since I only am likely to have a few weeks of this pregnancy left, I really feel like writing about it since I spent years imagining what it might actually be like.
Overall, it's not as strange as I thought it would be. Many things that I just couldn't picture feeling - like the baby moving - turned out to be nowhere near as odd as it might seem. Other things - like not being able to roll over in bed at night without waking up and working on it - have been a surprise. I mean, seriously: who has to wake up at night in order to roll over? Someone with a bowling ball attached to their middle, that's who.
Today I am eight months and three weeks pregnant. Next Wednesday will be nine months.
The due date is still four weeks away, but one of the odd things I've learned is that a due date is actually calculated at TEN months, not nine even: and the ninth month is four weeks long. All four weeks in January!
I know other people have thought the time has just flown by, but it's seemed a lot longer to me. Part of this is because I've pretty much been pregnant since the middle of last December with a few weeks' break early this spring. Which means it's sometimes a little hard to believe we're almost done and it's just about time for this baby to be outside instead of inside. Of course, with my stomach capacity shrinking to almost nothing these past few weeks and the way I've had a bony little bottom up so high in my diaphragm that I can't breathe right, I'm starting to think it really is high time for this little guy to continue growing somewhere else. When he stretches out and gets his foot lodged under my ribs, it's kind of a shocking feeling. Ouch!
And before anyone asks, yes I can tell the difference between a head and a bottom and it is really possible to feel the difference between feet and hands and most of the time I can tell where the baby is and how he's positioned. The way I know I've been fairly accurate so far is that the baby's heartbeat has been consistently tough to pick up with the stethoscope because you kind of have to get the amplifier right between his shoulderblades to find his heartbeat and he's usually on his side, which makes him tough to read. The midwife has started asking me if I can predict where his shoulderblades are and when I tell her, she can pick up the heartbeat. I'm kind of tickled about this.
Ben asked me last week if I could name any personality traits our baby seems to have, since it certainly seems like babies carry personality traits from the moment they're born so they must have them ahead of time. I told him I thought this baby was fairly laid-back but very curious. Rather than being belligerent about things like me resting a teacup on my stomach, the baby has a tendency to feel them and play with them. Teacups are his favorite outside toy so far - if I rest the cup on my stomach, he begins gently drumming his feet on it. Not hard enough to feel like he's trying to shove it off, more like he's saying, "Oh, this is fun...what's this?" If Ben rests his arm on my stomach, pretty soon I'll feel a little fist poke up and start feeling along the length of Ben's arm. Not poking hard like when moving around lot, just sort of feeling what this strange new heavy thing is. He'll even rub his fist against Ben's arm, which is a really funny sensation. He also does get scared by a few things - we watched The Hobbit at a theater last week and in one really intense part the baby started wiggling around a lot with an odd fluttery sort of movement which reminded me very strongly of a how a newborn acts when scared. I rubbed his back for a little and he settled right down, but he definitely responded to all the loud noise. He did something similar when we were going to Florida and the plane took off from the runway. By the third or fourth time he wasn't reacting, but I think the first few scared him.
Ben thinks I'm gigantic, but all things considered, I'm pretty small for just-about term pregnant. My waistline measures 42 inches and I weigh about 158 pounds (that's up from 25 inches and 115 pounds). Peanut is getting more and more epic cases of hiccups, to the point where (with his aforementioned little bottom shoved up against my diaphragm) it feels like I'VE got hiccups. The funny thing about baby hiccups is that they're really, really fast compared to normal - it almost feels like a heartbeat except that baby's heartbeat is quite a bit faster and it's more like mine...only it's not mine because mine's beating a different time.
And then there are contractions.
Everybody hears about contractions, but I was sort of wondering how I would recognize them or what they would feel like. Granted, the ones I feel are just the "practice" contractions that are getting all my muscles nice and strong, but still...it turns out that when you feel them, they are pretty obvious. If you picture the muscles around your stomach as a band or a belt, a contraction feels like it suddenly got very tight. It's like getting a cramp in your leg after not drinking enough water, only it doesn't hurt like that. But it's the same sudden tightening. I've been asked a few times if I'm nervous about labor and delivery and I guess the answer is I'm nervous about it in the same way I would be about playing a violin piece at a recital. I'm not afraid, but I definitely have an element of, "Okay...been practicing a while...now make sure you get that middle part right!"
Some of my siblings have been making jokes about how fat I am ("Wow, Lauren, you're HUGE!") and even Ben is kidding me about having "a wide load". I've just been shrugging and saying, "Yup." I also smile peaceably and say, "True. But in a few weeks I won't be."
I washed all the baby clothes already and have been puttering with things like getting the baby's bed set up (we were pretty pleased to find something called a 'co-sleeper', which is basically a bassinet with sides that lower so it can be put right next to the bed and take up very little room) and assembling the list of stuff we're supposed to have on hand for the baby's birth. One of the most fun things was getting the birth certificate and the little card that we're supposed to record the baby's footprints on. Getting that in the mail definitely made us feel like we're getting close. It's kind of funny getting all the things together ourselves that hospitals just seem to have on hand, like the receiving blankets and little knitted hat and the umbilical cord clamp.
The closer we get, the more I'm relieved we're having this baby at home and not in the hospital. I really am glad not to be packing for a hospital stay and knowing we'll have to judge the right time to go in and then deal with all the hospital bureaucracy and so on and so forth. I'm glad it's going to be just Ben and I and the midwife will keep an eye on us if we need some help. Both families are making us promise that we'll let them know when we're in labor and won't leave them hanging when the baby's born. Aaron says various friends of ours have been having "labor parties" when their siblings are having babies: they basically just stay up playing Wii games and eating snacks and not going to bed until they hear some news, no matter how late it gets. Of course it helps that most of the friends we have who've had babies recently have ridiculously short labors - the most recent one was three hours long from start to finish, I think. At any rate, Aaron says we better not gyp them out of their chance to have a labor party. Sounds like a political thing, put that way.
All in all, I have enjoyed being pregnant but I'm really looking forward to holding this baby. It's something that fills me with wonder, experiencing what I've only imagined up until now. I think actually having the baby will be a whole new level of that same wonder and I'm filled with anticipation of that. Not to mention anticipating being able to easily do things like sit up or get out of a chair or bend over without holding my breath. (Please note that I still have the balance to hop on one leg and tie my shoes without the bows having to be on the sides of the shoes...)
I'm also really, really looking forward to seeing Ben be a father. I can't imagine what it would be like having a baby without Ben as the daddy. He has really been wonderful and continues to be every day and I'm so pleased to have his hands be the first ones to actually touch and hold this child. In spite of how sad we were to lose our little Joshua earlier this year, part of me is glad to have had that experience because I already know how well Ben handles even difficult things and I am looking forward to going through labor with him; and I'm am absolutely looking forward to that look I know will be on his face when he gets to see his son or daughter for the first time. In many ways, I'm more excited about that than even seeing the baby myself.
It's been eight years since I've lived with a new little one. It's about time to end the baby deprivation. Just a few more weeks to go.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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