When you’re waddling around with a basketball belly, you get asked how you’re feeling a lot. Mostly by other women.
I think what most women are asking when they say this, is “What are you feeling? How does it feel?”
That’s what I always meant anyways, when I asked it. Before.
I wanted to know what it felt like to carry another life inside you. I wanted to know if these women, who always looked so serene and calm, were even a little bit scared or nervous. I wanted to know if they were worried about what their life would look like in a few months. I wanted to know if they talked to their babies, I wanted to know how their relationships with their partners had changed.
I was wondering how they could be going about their daily lives so innocuously, while at the same time quietly building a human being.
Now I’m on the other side, I’m looking back at inquisitive faces that don’t know how to ask these question because they’re too personal, too real, but I wish they would. Instead I end up giving the same unsatisfying answer I usually got, before: “I’m feeling great! How are you?”.
A quick exchange on the street or in the dairy aisle of the grocery store simply isn’t enough time to go into it, and do they really care anyway? Am I reading into things? Not everyone wants to hear the existential blathering of a pregnant lady, maybe they’re just making conversation after all.
But if I ran into me, (pre-pregnancy me, I mean) and she asked me that same question- “How are you?” - this is how I would answer:
“I feel strange, I feel like me but more somehow. I feel heavy physically, but not in a bad way, weighted down with happy expectation. When I make the bed in the morning I try and squeeze myself into that small space between the mattress and the wall, the space that I’ve always fit into easily but these days I get crammed in, stuck. My belly bumps into counters, I no longer know the limits of my body; where I end and the world begins.
There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
I do worry, but in an abstract way. There’s a loss of control that I’ve felt ever since our first ultrasound. I looked at the screen, that blurry picture of a tiny blob floating in space and saw all that had been done without my knowledge or control. Something bigger than me was happening. So yes, I worry, but in a curiously detached sort of way. About what out baby will look like. If they will be be messy like Adam or crave order like me. What his laugh will sound like.
Life does feel normal. That’s the most surprising part of all of this, how normal it all feels. I wake up and brush my teeth and get dressed and eat lunch and go to work and swim. Nothing has changed, everything has changed.
I like being pregnant. It feels good, natural. And as strange as it is to see my body expanding, it also just somehow makes sense. It’s not surprising, which is in itself a surprise.
Pregnancy hasn’t changed my relationship with Adam in any significant way (yet). There has, of course, been stress - stretching your life to fit a new person will do that. I think of it like growing pains, these arguments over car seats and where the baby will sleep, who will work and when. But this too, is normal. Trying to our mash our disparate viewpoints into something resembling a compromise.
But behind all of that is this shared bundle of experiences, this small handful of life that we haven’t had with anyone else. Whatever happens down the road, Adam and I will always have those weeks before we told anyone, when the baby was our happy secret. That morning where I threw up into the sink and my nose started bleeding, feeling that first strong thump.
Things are calm, tender. Normal.
I try and remember all of the things I would have liked to ask, before. But it’s true what they say, life *before* feels hazy, it’s receding. I’m forgetting what it felt like to have a flat stomach, to be slim .
Almost seven months is a long time, and it’s funny how quickly you adapt. How quickly you forget what before felt like.
27 Weeks. We’ve come a long way, baby.