The other day, I was relaxing in a bubble bath trying to sweat out a cold, and I was overcome with the visceral memory of Pippin, months ago, squirming in my belly in that same bathtub.
When it happened for the first time last summer, it was funny and exciting and slightly scary. After months of nausea and slow weight gain, sudden, incontrovertible proof: a tiny person beating so hard against the confines of his home that he made ripples in the bathwater.
And for the first time, soaking in the bath the other day, sipping tea and sniffling, I missed being pregnant.
This is new. I’ve missed the less-broken sleep of pregnancy, the stretchy waistbands of maternity jeans, sure, but I hadn’t missed being pregnant. I hated being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong — I am more grateful for the end product of that pregnancy than anything else in my life except perhaps his father, but pregnancy was the pits most of the time.
But I think the difference now is knowing, in a very real way, that end product, as a person, albeit one still very small and mysterious. I’ve often wondered about how women with pregnancies even more unfun than mine can choose to go through it again, and now I think I know.
As you do this thing, one child at a time, one unending nine month stretch at a time, you get to meet the unique, joyful little person at the end of each slog, and you learn to trust the process. When I think of Pippin’s dancing in my belly in the tub last summer, now the memory is welded with the more recent memory of his solemn, wide-eyed splashing in his own little bathtub these winter evenings. That time he startled in utero at the loud toilet flush at the sporting goods store, he likely had the same expression of bewilderment on his squishy red face that he gets now when the dog barks too near and he dissolves into tears. And those sharp pokes on my left hip in the last weeks of pregnancy _ those, no doubt, were his little old man stretches, when his folded arms above his head remind me so sweetly of his elbowy papa.
I’m starting to think just maybe, someday, I could do it again.
Honestly, it was a really wonderful year and a really tough year. This has been a year almost completely dominated by that cliche headline, pregnancy. That meant a lot of big bads — like throwing up once a day for ten weeks — and a lot of big goods — like the generosity, advice and support of so many friends, deepening those friendships. (Also, and it goes without saying, my awesome son.)
It also meant that John and I lived this year, from finding out we were pregnant at the beginning of March, really deliberately. From the Sherlock viewing party at spring break, when, suspecting I could be pregnant, I ate my last unpasteurized cheese and drank my last wine, to our spontaneous fancy dessert date after the Braxton-Hicks contractions started, everything’s had special significance as we experienced rapid-fire lasts and firsts. I suspect when I’ve forgotten about the heartburn that radiated to my kneecaps, what will stand out are the firsts of parenthood that leave you completely elated and weak at the knees: labor, meeting our child, seeing my husband as a father, learning to nurse and change diapers and stuff little arms into little sleeves without breaking off littler fingers.
There were things that didn’t turn out how I hoped, of course. A difficult job ended up becoming a major source of stress and anger, and I’m still a little frustrated at myself that improvement only came with leaving it. Plans to get in shape before our big Dales Way walking trip never materialized, because when the morning sickness came, my resolutions crumpled instantly.
But hey. I (still! stiffly!) hiked something like 25 miles and traveled abroad while four months pregnant, landed my first grown-up titled job (even if it’s just ten hours a week), and have successfully kept a kid alive for two months now (that’s at least 360 night feedings, but who’s counting?).
2012 was completely bizarre and lovely and landmark-y. I’m pretty excited to see what 2013 holds.
*Thanks, Pippin, for dropping and making mama a little more tummy space.
We totally did. (Although I guess we’ll have to wait for Pippin’s arrival before we can say for sure how much the classes helped!)
For those who don’t know, I generally explain the Bradley Method as natural childbirth boot camp that teaches you to view birth as a natural, athletic event. You have twelve two-hour courses, homework, a general diet plan, and exercises to do. It’s worth saying that as far as I can tell, the classes are way more in depth than anything else you’re likely to take. I think the classes work best if:
Since completing the classes, we’ve kind of been terrible know-it-alls. J correctly diagnosed a friend’s back labor by her husband’s birth story. We were able to volunteer the answer right away to our midwifery care group about what to do when you think you’re in labor. We’ve got a birth plan, a phone list and a packing list ready to go.
There’s an awful lot you can’t control or prepare for as first time parents, but Bradley helps you understand what you can.