Friday, January 29, 2010

What Really to Expect When You're Expecting: The End Days

For the first two posts in the WRTOWYE series, go here and here.

Yesterday was my last day of work and I can say with confidence that we will have a baby here within a week. I am grateful that my body is decomposing less than it does for many pregnant warriors. I'm complimented (whether appropriately, or not, we could certainly debate) on my unwaddly stride, on my ability, still, to stride. I can still throw my children in the air and play tickle games until they're out of breath, even though now I will be out of breath in companionship. My restroom needs only disrupt my sleep once a night, and anyone who has ever been or slept near a pregnant woman knows that that is absolutely brag-worthy. And yet, my ankle bones and jaw line have taken deep cover; rising from the floor unassisted is possible, but not without becoming a bit of a spectacle; and it's just as well that I don'r really like shoes with laces, because I'm not sure how I'd be fastening them.

When you are this far along on your 40-week pilgrimage, how people address you can be summed up neatly into several categories. Let's examine them via examples of actual comments offered to me in the past 48 hours:

1) I was wished "gentle birth vibes" (and I like the sound of those);
2) the waiter at the Silver Diner looked at me and said, "to be clear: we deliver tableside and curbside, but we don't deliver babies" (and thank you for that);
3) my friend C looked at me in profile and groaned, "Good lord, girl!"

Category #1: Mothers
Any woman who has birthed a child looks at The Very Pregnant Woman with a mix of comeraderie, solidarity, support and nostalgia. The Mothers, they Get It. They will be thinking of you, hoping for you, and looking at you through the memories of their own experiences. They cannot look at you without remembering their own hopes, last waddles, strange food cravings, epidural mishaps, or whatever it is that Approaching Birth means to Them. They're on your team, and whatever they say to The Very Pregnant Woman, it's designed to let you know it.

Category #2: Non-parents
For anyone who has never been intimately involved in the experience of birth, The Very Pregnant Woman is a source of discomfort. You are a walking billboard for life and mortality and blood and vulnerability. The non-parent still likes to confront the adult form only for sexuality, not biology. (This is the same category who will be unable to hold conversations with you when you are breastfeeding.) The non-parent doesn't like to think about these things, and your presence pulls down that firewall in a visible and gentle but confrontational manner. You will hear many similar awkward comments.

Category #3: The Fathers
The thing about fathers is that for a long time they were happy to fall in the category of non-parents, happily not thinking about life and mortality and blood and vulnerability. Now they think about all those things, and many more fun things they might wish they never knew about, like meconium and episiotomies and chapped nipples. They want to be supportive of The Very Pregnant Woman but sometimes it's difficult for them, as your presence sends them into some PTSD-like flashbacks. Because of years of menstruation, women are more prepared for the confrontation of life and death and pain that one learns with the onset of parenthood than men, who may embrace their oblivion for as long as possible. The Fathers look at The Very Pregnant Woman and Know. They Know the moment they awakened to what was about to happen, and you make them relive it a little bit. They really want to be supportive of you; and they Know just how important and helpful that can be to you; they're just feeling a little vulnerable themselves in your presence.

My friend C? He's a new dad. So I promised him that the end is near and everything will be okay.

Because it is, and it will, and that's the best part about The End Days. Pin It


This Heavenly Life said...

Hehe :)

I am all amazement that you can still toss your girls around...I think I stopped that around 5 months pregnant when the tendons holding my pelvis together started catching on the bones and...wait...yes, I see. I'm lapsing into 'remembering my own hopes, last waddles, etc.' But since you predicted it with this expertly phrased essay, you'll forgive me right?

Enjoy your waddle-free days :)

cndymkr / jean said...

I can't wait for this little guy to be born. I don't even know you and I'm so excited. Babies are such a blessing (especially when sleeping). Sorry, I was having a flash back.

Laura said...

It sounds like you're a pro at pregnancy these days. Your waddle free walk helped other women thinking about babies be less scared I'm sure. This has to be a sign that labor is going to go as well. I wish you the best of luck! I bet the girls are excited. Thanks for posting this close to the end.

Emily said...

The first time I was in my "end days" I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and, somehow without realizing I was looking at myself, I thought "Oh, that poor girl. She looks so uncomfortable." Then, "Wait! I have those pants too...but I look so much better in them than she does." Of course, 5 seconds later I realized I was actually looking at my own reflection. So, yeah, I envy you that waddle-free stride!

Put me firmly into the category of Mothers. I'm wishing you all the best, and, yeah, reliving it a little too.

MommyWizdom said...

Enjoy your last days... what a fun post. I think you captured it rather nicely. Best wishes for your birth...