Written a few days ago:
I’ll be at 37 weeks on Saturday. That’s full term, depending who you’re asking. My doctor said, a week ago, “It’s safe for her to come anytime.” She added, after a physical check, that my cervix is getting ready and Pudding’s head is right in position. That isn’t necessarily any kind of prediction, but it feels momentous to have this information. She could come anytime.
It’s a very strange state of being, knowing that labor could begin any day now — or not for another month. There is a sense of urgency as well as a sense of timelessness, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that time — that is, clock time — is unimportant. There is only one timeline that matters right now, and its units of measure are unknown to anyone. Pregnancy and birth are still, for all our sophisticated science, very mysterious and individual processes. In our birth class, we received a list of signs of impending labor, but the instructor — a doula and mother of two — said, “You may experience all of these, or some, or none at all.” For every textbook generalization, there are plenty of people whose experience was entirely different. There is just no way to know how it will go, for me or for anyone else. I am choosing to find this liberating rather than unsettling, although certainly, it could be both!
Anyway, after some weeks of fatigue and heaviness, I have very little to complain about. Today I felt energetic enough to go out to lunch with a friend (at a casual restaurant around the corner from our apartment) and run three separate (albeit small) errands. I have neither heartburn nor back pain nor insomnia nor pelvic instability nor swollen feet (all of which can apply to any stage of pregnancy, but are very common in the third trimester). My body continues to change in subtle and sometimes unexpected ways. For one, I am suddenly really excited to eat (fried) fish, broccoli, and sweets, all of which I found deeply distasteful at earlier stages, and tea is starting to sound good again too. All things considered, I’m not too uncomfortable, and emotionally I am in good spirits. We have 200 homemade wontons in the freezer. My hospital bags are packed. There is still plenty of stuff I could do, but most of the essentials are taken care of — which is a good place to be in, given the uncertainty around time.
click to watch Pudding on video!
It dawned on me this afternoon that I have lately had a feeling of becoming less of a vessel and more myself. That is not at all how I expected to feel at this stage. I thought I would feel less in control than ever, and probably it’s true that I am, but I feel very grounded. Perhaps it’s because Pudding needs me less now, and therefore I worry about her less. I have all kinds of terrors, of course, about her survival, but discounting worst-case scenarios, she’s more robust than ever; she can now survive outside my body, and there’s a deep security in knowing that she really can come anytime, and it will be all right. Rather than feeling my every thought centering on her, I feel a greater awareness of our impending physical separation. I suppose it’s sort of like the feeling of lightness and freedom when one’s roommate is about to move out — no matter how much one liked the roommate, there’s a sense of celebration, looking forward to having more space!
I also — and I can’t get over this; it is so weird — feel really great a lot of the time, in spite of being more pregnant than I’ve ever been. I’m supposed to be hurting and tired and eager to have her out, and there is some truth to all of that, but mainly I feel cheery. Soon we’ll be meeting Pudding. Soon labor will be behind me. Soon I’ll get to eat deli meats again! I can’t help but feel anticipatory. Nervous of course, too, even panicky in moments, but more than anything, happy and excited. It doesn’t seem like the most rational feeling, but it’s there, bubbly, even when I’m feeling out of breath and fatigued. In fact, it has very little to do with my moment-to-moment mood or physical sensations; it is a deep, underlying exuberance that remains present even if I’m also feeling grumpy or achy or anxious. I am so filled with hope that I almost feel I should squelch it, so as not to tempt vengeful fates!
Getting back to that feeling of becoming more my own person again, though — I guess I’m beginning to think less of how best to nurture Pudding inside my body and more of how to nurture the both of us once she comes out. Caring for myself is, after all, going to be vitally important postpartum, for all of our well-being. And with that perspective comes a greater recognition of myself as separate from Pudding, as having separate needs, a separate schedule, separate feelings.
I suspect I will miss having her here, in my body, once she is out; it has been such a tender and lovely time, and so reassuring to always know where she is and that she is as safe as I can make her. And yet the more we separate the more room she has to be her own person, and that’s a future I can’t wait to experience.
photo taken by my mother earlier this week. My belly barely shows from this angle!