Right now, you are a few months from being born. It feels like you’ve been with me for a very long time now, and you aren’t even born yet.
Baby, you sleep so much! But when you are awake, you are very awake. You alertness is apparent. You punch and kick different parts of my body constantly. I can see my stomach pop out and jump with your movements. Sometimes, I picture you beating the walls of my uterus in boredom. Sometimes, I think you’re pounding your way out in frustration, just dying to get out.
You know the feeling on a roller coaster, when it drops? That’s what it feels like sometimes, except I’m not moving. In those moments, I picture you doing flips inside of me. You’re still so small and agile – I imagine you diving and pinballing around in me. I think you do this in moments of joy, like when I eat ice cream or cry from peals of laughter.
In the mornings, I walk, while the sun rises and the deer are jumping and the bunnies are hopping. I walk on the trail and try to enjoy the little bit of cool temperatures, the not-heat of the morning. You aren’t very active when I walk, baby, not for hours. I picture you being rocked back and forth with my steps, lulled into sleep. I imagine it’s like being on a cruise ship, with gentle rocking and the faint sound of water.
I talk to you sometimes. Can you hear me? Do you recognize that it’s me? Your dad likes to talk to my belly button, which is connected to your belly button. I imagine you feeling buzzing and tickling through it when he talks to you, making you laugh maybe. He reads you baby books, or parenting books that we need to read anyway. So we’re all learning how to be parents to you, including you. I sing in the car, not very well, and your dad whistles a lot. Can you hear us in there?
I imagine it’s like being in the belly of a whale, where you are. I got a massage the other day, and you kicked and kicked. The massive amount of fluid in my body was redistributed with that massage – I imagine it whooshing and sloshing around you, maybe surprising you. Were you scrambling to get out of the way? Were you scared?
My favorite dress these days is a green knit. It occurred to me when I wear it, I’m like the Hulk – I grow bigger, I have fits of rage, and I’m green. I wear dresses every day. I haven’t worn pants in months. It’s just too hot for them. And I am hot all of the time, physically and emotionally. I can’t remember being cold anymore, and I am easily angered. I sweat constantly. I’m covered in the oily residue of dried sweat, always.
These days, my eyes tear up easily. Sometimes with sadness, from a cheesy movie. But most often, it’s from laughter. I find so many things funny these days, and I often laugh until I can’t make sounds. I cry my eye makeup off and sweat a little bit. Sometimes I can’t stop laughing at all. I laugh at my own jokes, then I laugh when other people laugh. It’s an endless cycle of laughter. And sometimes I cry when I think about you. The hormones you have put into my body make me sentimental. We took a tour of the hospital where you will be born, and it occurred to me that you might be born in the room I was standing in, and I almost lost it, right in the middle of the tour. Such is my life these days.
I picture you like a lump of clay, a solid mass. I imagine that with everything I do, every plan I make, every piece of furniture I buy, I’m shaping you a little bit, making you into the person you will become. And your father too. And when you’re born, you’ll take shape even more. And eventually, you’ll push our hands away and start shaping yourself.
Morning and night, I slather my belly with lotions and creams and oils, yet it does no good. The purple and red tiger stripes race across my skin, etching creeping. Sometimes I fret over them, sometimes I just shrug and accept it. These are the marks of you on me.
I’m constantly astounded by how big I am in one section. If this were my foot or hand expanding over nine months, I would be concerned. But no one is concerned when it’s a baby. A baby is at once the most banal thing, and the most amazing thing in the world. That there’s a person growing inside of me, and it happens to women all of the time. Bizarre.
Sometimes, I cannot wait for you to get out, to be born. There are many things I won’t miss about being pregnant. The aches and pains, the constant swelling, the restrictions. The public nature of being pregnant, of having other people constantly question and judge me for my choices. I will be somewhat relieved when this is over. But other times, I want you to stay in here for a while longer. Now is the only time where I know where you are, all the time. Once you are born, I’ll never be certain of what’s happening with you. I won’t always be certain that you’re safe and happy. I’ll have to let you be unhappy, because I won’t always be able to control the world for you. Someday, you’ll grow up and there will be so much I won’t know about your life. But right now, I know everything about you.
Someday, you will come out and be your own person. But for now, I am your house and your home. I am where you live and breathe and sleep and eat. And even when you are born, I will still be your home.
Welcome home, baby.