How a non-maternal soon-to-be-mum is spending the last weeks of her pregnancy
This is a magical time. Really. I have to keep reminding myself, because my legs ache and my stomach is stretched as tight as a bongo drum and I can't sleep through the night anymore. But I am lucky to be seven-and-a-half months pregnant in the height of summer. I am lucky.
I was never one of those women who idealised pregnancy and motherhood. I figured it looked like a tough journey and one I was not ready to undertake until about 18 months ago. I do not go gooey in baby stores, I do not sigh over French design pieces for the nursery, I do not think a $1000 cot will do a better job. I do not find the stories about beautiful women in pregnancy magazines aspirational. I do not enjoy reading about toilet training or sneaking vegetables onto your toddler's plate and can't imagine that I ever will. There are so many necessary evils associated with children.
I do like jeans and trainers for babies—I have a silly fascination for miniature items—and I do like baby toys. My baby is already the owner of a noise-making jungle activity kit which drives the dog bonkers and a classic wooden Noah's Ark which the dog is not allowed anywhere near.
I do not enjoy my body's transformation, impressive as it is. I have taken on the appearance of a Christmas pudding. Some people find me adorable, others are repulsed. Some people stand back for me at doorways and smile palishly at me in public toilets, others look through me as though fecundity were too embarrassing to contemplate.
Before I was pregnant I think I was one of the smilers. After all, pregnant women, no matter how ponderous and frowny, are working hard. They are growing extra limbs and extra brains and beautiful brooch-like sets of ribs and tiny beating hearts. They are sharing their blood and oxygen with another person. They are literally getting kicked in the guts every day. Whether I wanted to join their ranks, well that was a Big Question, and one to be considered fully later.
I had a miscarriage early last year and my view of pregnancy and procreation changed. No longer was it a bonus, a nice addition to a full life, a way of insuring my old age and keeping my baby-mad husband happy. It was an imperative. As I realised that the bleeding was not actually going to stop, that this little flicker of possibility was to be extinguished—and that the whole process would take five long, painful days—I finally understood why people spend tens of thousands of dollars and go through years of 'are we, aren't we?' agony for the privilege of holding their own baby in their arms.
Funny how losing the chance to meet someone the size of a lima bean can hurt so much. Funny how it took getting pregnant a second time to make the miscarriage alright. And yet I often think of that first baby—well, fetus to be accurate, I don't want to oversentimentalise—and wonder what might have been.
This time around, my pregnancy is cushioned by known facts. We are having a boy. He is of normal size and very active. He appears to have long legs. We chose an obstetrician rather than midwife because I was nervous. So our baby gets scanned a lot. He was practising breathing last time we popped into her office. One time he yawned.
I watch Coronation Street with a newly critical eye. That selfish Violet, marching around the Rover's as if she alone got pregnant, and too bad if Sean wants to be part of the baby's life. (I get quite emotional about it, yet nappy ads leave me cold, and those toddlers tearing around in the Hyundai set my teeth on edge.)
I walk into the baby's room every now and then to have a little play with the blankets, rattles and books we have accumulated. I sit in the chair and imagine how it will be when there is a squirmy, crying, needy little being in there. I still can't quite imagine taking control of the situation and being a mum.
And I look around at all the other Christmas puddings (once you're pregnant you spot them everywhere) sweating their way across the mall car park, hissing at their partners in Baby City, fanning themselves in the doctors' waiting room, grimly making their way up the nappy aisle at the supermarket, and I think, gosh, aren't we lucky?