You didn’t read the baby books. You didn’t have pregnancy tests on hand. You hadn’t been taking prenatal vitamins, scrambling to plan sexy evenings during your O-days, and consuming 60,000 extra milligrams of folic acid every few minutes. Because you didn’t know you were within four light years of housing a fetus.
Me either. Welcome to the club. I am the kindhearted big sister who will let you in on all the things I have learned in the last eight months of my very unexpected pregnancy. Because all women are different, all pregnancies are different, so perhaps you will experience none of what I have so far. But just in case, here’s the lowdown.
1.) You might wake up one morning with a rash from hell. It feels like your lower belly is having a wildly abrasive allergic reaction to the dragon breath of your hormones. An intense, fiery passion to claw at your skin until it bleeds will overpower you. Luckily, this tends to happen at opportune moments, such as the dozing stage right before sleep when you’re finally wedged in between five voluminous pillows carefully, ingeniously arranged into a fluffy sleep cloud that doesn’t allow your belly to pull at your back and relieves the swelling in your ankles. Because it takes a minute to locate your hands in the cocoon you spent so much time designing, the itch-burn has time to build into a truly nuclear situation. Here’s my suggestion: a coating of topical Benadryl spray underneath a layer of anti-itch lotion applied twice a day, and for the love of God, don’t touch any skin within a four-foot radius of the hormone rash. You are fighting an uphill battle here.
2.) Your dog might know you’re pregnant before you do. That is how oblivious I was. About three days before my man and I saw The Second Pink Line, our dog fairly glued himself to my midsection. He would crawl into my lap and place an ear on my lower belly and stay there as long as I’d let him. I thought he’d developed an affinity for my digestive noises. Weirder things have happened when it comes to animals. And digestive noises. But in fact, Peabody apparently sensed a shift in my body, however slight, and was desperate to figure it out. If your dog doesn’t do this, he might just not be as smart as mine.
3.) You might start hearing a lot of “just wait until.” How many times has this scene played out:
Coworker/Acquaintance/Stranger: How are you feeling, Mama?
Amie: I feel unbelievably tired. Even my blood could use a nap.
Coworker/Acquaintance/Stranger: Oh, just wait until that little girl is on the other side of your uterus! Ha ha ha!
Amie: I will cut you.
Why people enjoy invalidating your current situation so they can give you an even gloomier look into the future (based solely on their own unhappy reality) is beyond me. This is what I figure: having a baby will be more stressful than anything I’ve ever done by a factor of 1,000; however, if I’ve gotten through every other stage in life successfully, I’ll get through this one too. And there must be some joy in the process because when I told people I was pregnant, they got all bright-eyed and huggy. Unless my friends are all masochists…well, they kind of are, come to think of it.
4.) You might need to stock up on groceries you never bought before. Mine has been cheese and, lately, orange juice. Some mornings I would’ve exchanged the baby herself for some slices of cheese and an inexcusably large glass of pulp-free orange juice. I’d heard of pregnancy cravings of course, but it seemed like they were always (1) weird, and (2) fleeting. Mine have been neither. Cheese is not weird. Orange juice is not weird. And my deep, heart-aching need for both has been anything but fleeting. They’re just grocery-list-topping necessities at this point in my third-trimester bonanza.
5.) You might cry every single time the tech lets you listen to your lady parts. Well, we’re not listening to my lady parts anymore because Anna has positioned herself much higher in her advanced fetal age. But in the beginning, when you have the ultrasounds performed by a “wand,” and all you’re looking at on the screen are your lady parts marked by one dark dot, you might still lose your poise when you hear that heart plugging away, trying to get itself all strong and formed. When I heard Anna’s heartbeat the first time, I thought, “That is the perfect sound, the sound my ears were created to hear.” It was beautiful, and it was over too fast. I wanted to take the instrument home to listen to her heart every free moment. And even though I’ve heard her chug-chug-chugging away several times now, it’s no less magical at each appointment.
I love this brand-new human with a purity and immediacy I never dreamed possible. No, I wasn’t “expecting” those two lines I saw in April, but now I can’t imagine expecting anything else.
P.S.: The title of this post was inspired by the FaceBook status of a comedian I like; however, everything in the post belongs solely to me.