I’m 18 weeks pregnant. They say my baby is the size of an artichoke. Weird unit of measure. Later, my pregnancy app will tell me it’s the size of a coconut, and then a grapefruit. Either my baby is shrinking, or these app developers don’t know what real, unprocessed fruit looks like. The coconuts in my back yard are 3 times the size of a grapefruit. I decide not to worry: There are more than enough things to worry about during pregnancy – especially early on, and particularly when you’ve spent 22 years swearing you’ll never have children.
The first months were all about the identity shift; I didn’t feel any connection to the life growing in my body. People asked me how the baby was doing, and I’d think, I don’t fucking know. She doesn’t talk, I can’t feel her move, and frankly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I will soon be one of those women wearing over-the-belly-up-to-my-nipple maternity pants, like some kind of monstrously exaggerated Steve Urkel.
I became that woman spending her time online shopping – not for books, travel, and outdoor gear, but for diaper bags and nipple cream. I lost hours of a day researching the minute differences between a $180 bag and a $60 bag, nearly buying into expert opinion when they said that saving half a second on pulling wipes out with only one hand is worth the $120 difference.
And then came the realization: I need a breast pump.
I need a breast pump??! Could there be a device more ego shattering to a self-made woman than a breast pump? Nothing could kill my sense of identity and pride like hooking up a milking machine to my sex melons – once a tantalizing symbol of my youth and wildness, soon to be little more than an udder. And not long after, sagging, withered sacs, of no use or interest to anyone.
I pick out the essentials for a baby shower registry and read up on pregnancy do’s and don’ts – though not too much. I’m determined not to be one of those paranoid pregnant women who then turn into a helicopter mom. I eat more or less the same as always (healthy), and go about my days as usual. Ok, there’s a whole lot more emphasis on sleeping and eating, and most other things fall to the wayside. In the first trimester I’m overwhelmed by apathy (We need beer and ice and mint at the bar! Fuck it. I’m taking a nap)…
…and it is divine.
The First Trimester
Still, none of this seems very real. I suspect it’s only a dream – that I’m not really pregnant, that I’m using this excuse to be as lazy as and as lavished with attention as possible. They’re all going to call my bluff any day now. And then I remember that I heard a heartbeat at six weeks. Or I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror sporting the stomach of a malnourished child.
Ack! What happened?? Oh. Yeah. Baby.
Over the following weeks certain signs appear that make me certain I’m undeniably pregnant.
You know you’re legally pregnant when:
- You spit in the shower and it lands on your belly instead of the floor
- You try to roll over or sit up in bed and realize you need the assistance of other limbs
- In yoga, downward dog makes you want to vomit and cobra becomes an impossibility
- You operate on pure faith while trimming your lady parts with a razor because you can’t see a damn thing over that bump
Nothing, however, makes it as real as when that little alien starts kicking and punching your insides. At first I thought it was just gas. A few weeks later I knew it was not. She sometimes kicks so hard it makes me jump in my seat. After her 5 month ultrasound, I knew why:
You can see with those legs (thank you, Noel) and that attitude (those 2 fingers are a Brit’s way of telling someone to go f— themselves), she’s our daughter, right?
I’m now at 6 months – 27 weeks and 5 days, to be exact. Pregnancy feels normal at this point; it’s labor that I’m now trying to wrap my head around. The last ultrasound showed my baby as nearly two weeks larger than she should be at this stage. When I compared the standard given by my pregnancy app to the doctor’s measurements, she was 45% larger than normal! Apparently, my lady bits will be experiencing their own identity crisis in about three months time.
But hell, I’m in this for the adventure, right? Only a fool sets forth on an epic journey expecting her sense of self to remain unchanged. And there are few acts as spiritually profound as those which flip your ideas of who you are and what your place in the world is. So bring on the shape-shifting body, the stretch marks and sleepless nights, the midwives and milk extractors.
But please, pair it with a large glass of mezcal, won’t you?