Pregnancy is such a strange and beautiful process. For 40 weeks, you give up your body for the sake of someone else, allowing them to take whatever they need to start their life.
With each week that passes, and each milestone you hit, there is a sigh of relief: you’re one step closer to meeting this tiny person you are in such close contact with every single day.
You share the news with your friends and family, then you share the news with the world, and there is a giant explosion of excitement, a baby! So small! So cute! I can’t wait!
A few months later, if you so choose, you find out if the baby is a boy or a girl, and can choose his or her name. There is another frenzy of excitement as all of the people closest to you start envisioning all the adorable clothes and things and gifts that they can get you for your sweet baby. And it is so humbling and fun to get the little onesie, or teddy bear that someone picked out especially for your baby.
If it’s your first baby, you may have a shower, and be so incredibly blessed by the outpouring of love that those people who love you so much shower upon you. It’s overwhelming in the best possible way to be loved so deeply, and to know that your baby is also loved so deeply.
Then, we start to sit and wait. The doctor gives you a month long window of when the baby could safely come, and you wait.
And each day, people ask you how you’re feeling, or if there is any movement and if the baby is gonna come. And you act like the adult you are and say “I’m feeling fine, thanks, the baby will come when she is ready.” What you want to say is: “Do you see a baby in my arms? No? Then NO. The baby has not come yet.” On a deeper level, what I want to say is: “We all have waited 272 days. She has at most 22 days left. This is the only time in her life where I can keep her perfectly safe. If I eat right, and avoid the things that I was told to avoid, and exercise and sleep and take my vitamins I can keep her safe. As soon as she is born, it is all on the table. I will not be able to protect her from the world, and with each day that she gets older, there will be a new set of fears that I have to face over and over again. So no, she is not here yet. And no, I am not miserable about it because in 22 days I cannot be her perfect shelter any longer. I am cherishing these last 22 days before my heart is beating outside of my body and I have to trust that I will do my best to raise her to be strong, smart, gentle and kind, and that though I will do anything to keep her safe, I also have to unleash her light into the world, and help her to make it a better place.
But the thing that is so befuddling to me is the commentary on my body. I am now realizing that I am a very lucky woman. I shop off the rack at every store I go to, and I can usually find something in my size that I would enjoy wearing. My boobs were always small enough that I could buy bras on a whim, and my shoes are an average size that every brand carries.
But lately, people I have never even seen before stop me in whatever store I am in to tell me how much longer I have because I am carrying so high. What these people don’t know (because they couldn’t know it, since they don’t know me from Adam) is that this comment is like a dagger to my heart.
You see, at each appointment starting at about 20 weeks, my practice takes out a paper tape measure and measures your belly from the top of your uterus to the bottom of it. Its a rough guess to help see if your baby is measuring on track (it is supposed to be the same number of centimeters as you are pregnant give or take two centimeters in either direction). I was tracking along perfectly for most of my appointments.
But then 7 weeks ago, my belly stopped measuring along with my weeks. I was within the realm of normal, but my doctor said I needed to have a growth scan just to be sure nothing was wrong. He didn’t rush order the scan. And he told me that everything was likely fine. I talked to a couple of my trusted mom friends and they said I was going to be fine. But I was crushed. What had I done wrong? Was my little girl going to be okay? I had done everything right. Why was my tummy small? Had she stopped growing? Would I have to have her early to try to give her her best chance?
For two weeks I cried every time I showered. I cried to one of my friends on Marco Polo telling her I didn’t know what I had done wrong. We went to our comfort measures class at the hospital and another woman, due one day before me, looked WAY different than I did and I cried myself to sleep worrying I had done something wrong. Those two weeks were pure torture.
Then we had our growth scan. And wouldn’t you know it, my little girl had just already dropped. She was head down, and in my pelvis, tracking at almost 5lbs and was totally fine. My body apparently didn’t want to stretch since my pelvis was a good support system for her, and just put her into that position instead of keeping her floating upwards.
My belly dropped 7 weeks ago. And it is still measuring behind. We had a second growth scan just last week, and baby was still low, and had had gained a pound and change. This is my variation of normal.
So any time some random stranger tells me that I’m carrying high, or that I still have a long time to go, it brings me back to each of those moments of fear, waiting to see if my baby was okay.
My body is unique. And my pregnancy is unique, as every woman’s body and pregnancy is. And it is really strange to me that people you don’t know find it okay to comment on your body and tell you how things are going when they literally have zero clue how your body does things.
Now, let’s also make a note that the last few weeks of pregnancy are hard. I am tired, my feet hurt at the end of the day, and there are a lot of hormones and emotions floating around as I get ready to bring this baby into the world. My body is making changes and getting itself ready. I am preparing my heart for the changes that are coming, and I am trying to maintain the level of excitement for everyone else, and put up with the random strangers at the store.
I am so excited that everyone is so excited to meet our tiny girlfriend. Believe me, no one is more excited than me to meet her. I have spent the last 39 weeks pouring my literal self into the creation of this little girl, and the moment I get to see her is going to be so mindblowingly amazing I don’t even know if I will be able to handle it.
But I am also dealing with all of the fear and excitment and transition of becoming a mother. And its a lot all at once. A newfound hero of mine, January Harshe is really big on holding space for parents in whatever they are feeling. And this is really something that I want to impress on anyone reading this. This is a really big moment in my life, and I am having ALL of the feelings to go along with it. Please, be patient and gentle with me as I step into this new role.
And to the old lady in aisle 7- just shut up. I don’t comment on your flabby arms. Stop talking about my belly.