I read somewhere (and really don’t remember where) that the later part of the third trimester can be like a return to the first, only larger and gruntier. Based on my experience of the last couple of weeks, I’d say that’s pretty spot on! I have never felt more attractive than when trying to tie my shoes these days. Meow.
But another feeling has set in, and it isn’t just pervasive nausea. It’s a sadness, a regret, the knowledge that I am already forgetting my first experiences of this baby’s life, that I will never be able to remember the experience of growing a human with any accuracy at all.
I will forget, if I haven’t already, the way that first trimester shaped up. The cherry blossoms that were blooming on 1st Avenue after the appointment where we had the first ultrasound, the one that confirmed the viability of what I already knew to be a fact. To be real, I knew it was a fact from the second it was a fact. And if I’m right, this baby will be here a week before the “due date.” As in, four weeks from now.
I will forget how tired I was, falling asleep sitting up after work, sometimes even before finishing dinner. I will forget the different ways my skin has felt, dry or tingling or, now, stretched tighter than I would have thought possible. No stretchmarks (yet?) but I’m not counting those chickens until we hatch.
I will forget the first tiny flutters that I didn’t recognize as quickening. (I love that word, quickening, in this context.) It wasn’t any of the other feelings the books suggest (“It might feel like gas, or little bubbles…”) – it was certainly a feeling I’d never imagined or felt before. But neither did it feel like another person kicking me.
The kicks and hiccups and rolls and pushes and stretches were the most unimaginable part of pregnancy, before experiencing them. Weight gain, nausea, appetite loss, appetite gain, sore feet, sore back, sore everything – those were imaginable and manageable, and really nothing much to notice. I’ve had it easy, compared with pretty much every other pregnant lady I’ve talked to. But these flutters and rolls and, lately, lurches are something else. Terrifying in their realness. Surprising in their strength.
I will forget the evening, probably, when I was washing dishes and looked down at my growing belly and saw it move, a surprise lurch. After which I marched into the living room and got Andrew’s attention and pulled my shirt up, crying out “LOOK AT THIS IT IS MOVING.” I will forget the weekend afternoon during Fashion Week (when I have to entertain myself for a few weeks without much of Anderw’s presence) when I was lying on the couch with a book resting on my belly and the little one kicked hard enough that the book slid to the floor. September 2013, the first time my baby disapproved of my reading choices.
October 2013, perhaps it was October 10 or 12, the first time we annoyed each other, the baby and I. It poked a foot up under my stomach, right in the center, sharp and aggressive enough to see an outline. I lightly pushed that foot back because hey, I’m working, and I had a glimpse of the future as the kicker responded by simply poking somewhere else, slightly to my right. So I lightly pushed that foot back again, and we played chase around my belly as I imagined that little one rolling his/her eyes in 12 or 13 or 14 years because I am just so annoying. Sorry, baby, but I have to work or else we don’t eat or have nice things.
The baby, the baby, the baby. In a way, it’s all there is and all there has been for the last several months. My thickening body, setting off every old alarm in my crazy head; the ultrasounds where we see the face developing, the hands, the feet, the tiny tiny feet. That one ultrasound in August when we got to watch a bout of hiccups. The very sensation of someone inside you having hiccups.
The way Andrew and I curl together at night, my belly between us, and the little one takes a turn kicking him in the kidneys and he laughs or smiles or just puts his hand on my skin and we are a family, and that’s unreal. All of this is incredibly rich, and I have been inattentive, I have had my head down, powering through an experience I will probably (here’s hoping!) never have again, and experience that should have been shaping my life and my brain because after a few more weeks, there is going to be another human in the world, a tiny human, and I’m going to be so responsible for it, and someday it might ask about what it was like before it was born and I’ll have so little to grasp at, other than “you were perfect from the second you came into existence.” And then that child will laugh at me, but I will never be able to explain the strange beauty of having someone grown inside you. I shouldn’t even try.