It’s strange, isn’t it? Growing a person inside of your body. She very clearly exists; I can feel her movements and ripples across my growing belly. I am certainly and obviously pregnant. But just as plainly I know she is not me. Even at this early phase, she is part Other.
My stomach grows every day – I used to wonder what it would feel like. From the outside, it resembles a hefty beer belly I once righteously shook in and out of most bars in Boston. I assumed my growing uterus would feel much the same way, a bit heavy-handed and somewhat awkward. But where that beer intake had been all mine, this new growth is not. As much as I know she is my daughter, I also recognize someone other than me who has taken up residency in my abdomen.
No one – no one – tells you how it feels to grow a totally separate human being in your body for 10 months.
Pregnancy books and sites inundate the newly pregnant with helpful suggestions: do this but don’t do that, wear this but not that, do some of this but only a little… (Don’t eat donuts. Well… perhaps homemade donuts are okay, but only those made with organic powdered sugar and the flour you milled yourself in the backyard after crafting said mill from recycled pallet wood.) Women post on parenting forums their doctor’s advice – ignore cold cuts, don’t fall down, wear gardening gloves, trade your heels for Birkenstocks. Baby websites send emails to me – Three Things To Do Before Your 28 Week Mark! Are You Making These Common Pregnancy Mistakes? Woman, Why Have You Yet Not Nested??
Sometimes a dollop of sage insight floats through but… I’ve got deeper questions I need answered.
This is not me. She moves when she wants; rolling and swimming, her movements undulate through my abdomen. I have no control. Like a muscle cramp, all I can do is hold on and ride it out. She is mine, but is not me.
Do you feel this too?
I try to catch my husband’s hand when she starts, to pull him closer to her, to me, to this process. As strange as this is for me, I can only imagine what it must feel like for him; worrying about me losing my breath walking up the stairs, hearing me roll over and over in the night seeking comfort, watching me sit quietly, smiling to myself because of this newfound journey.
And though I can feel her, I miss her – it’s as though she’s been away for 7 months and I cannot wait to have her back home.
How can that be?
We wished her into being and now here she is. Like a magic trick with a hat and rabbit, she’s waiting in the wings for her time to spring into this world, a fully-formed human who is mine but only part me. I cannot contain my awe of this wondrous and mysteriously-designed nugget of cells who has taken up residency in my body.
Do you feel this too?