Two of my closest girlfriends are pregnant right now, both of them due around the same time: late May/early June.
You already know one of them – my best friend Ro. And guess what? Her baby girl (Mia) is due on Henry’s BIRTHDAY: June 5. How’s that for timing?
It’s killing me to not be in New York right now. The last time I saw Ro she was 48 hours pregnant (I’m exaggerating) and supervising my kid at a park while my father and I went about the serious task of
testing climbing the park’s playground equipment. Even then it was obvious she exhibited better parenting skills than myself.
Her baby shower is the day before St. Anthony’s Triathlon, thus I am unable to attend. ANOTHER MAJOR BUMMER. Consequently, it is possible that my best friend will fully gestate and I will never see her baby bump in person. UNFATHOMABLE. Fifteen years ago, when I filled three pages in her high school yearbook, I never imagined we’d BARGAIN SHOP without each other much less give birth to babies on opposite ends of the Eastern seaboard. Kvetching over the phone about the marvelousness and shiteousness of pregnancy is not the same as seeing it happen before your eyes. I’ll never get to feel Baby Mia kick Ro in the ribs – at least not in utero anyway.
Ah. But such is life. I signed up for this when I left Buffalo nine years ago. (NINE YEARS AGO?! WHAT?) After a decade away from home your absence no longer goes missed. It simply becomes a matter of fact. You miss Christmases. You miss birthdays. You miss pregnancies. You miss babies being born.
On the other hand, I’m currently watching a very dear girlfriend, who lives conveniently close to me, experience the emotional and physical mindfuck that is pregnancy. We’re running buddies. And though she’s reached the bladder-busting, ligament-aching point where running is
no longer fun ridiculously disagreeable, we’ve adjusted our once-a-week ritual from running three miles to walking three miles.
I don’t care if it gets to the point where I have to pull her for three miles in a wagon while feeding her grapes and chocolate chip cookies. Pregnant ladies need to get outside and ruminate on being pregnant, be it alone or in the company of a friend.
Listening to my friend talk about her pregnancy, hearing her excitement over decorating a nursery, feeling her baby girl kick and stretch, watching her first-trimester muffin top (her word, not mine) grow into an unmistakable third-trimester BUMPITY BUMP is not only a joyous thing to witness, it’s a visceral reminder of what it feels like to be pregnant for the first time.
In the freewheeling years before I had Henry, I believed that pregnancy turned women into puffy science experiments. Five years ago if you’d have paired me up with a pregnant jogging companion, I’d have run in the opposite direction. Three miles of baby talk? FORGET IT.
It’s different now that I’m a mama, not that I don’t still think pregnancy turns women into puffy science experiments. Now that I’m a mama it’s like HAND OVER YOUR BELLY. What’s that? Your baby is pummeling you in the kidneys? LET ME FEEL. Someone called you fat? Who? I’ll punch ’em in the face.
When you’re pregnant for the first time it feels like you’re pregnant FOR YEARS. Time doesn’t crawl by, it melts like a glacier. You agonize over every symptom and non-symptom. You scrutinize your belly button. You get enchanted by maternity clothes, then disgusted by maternity clothes. You go from feeling cute (pregnant Gisele) to feeling cumbersome (pregnant Jessica Simpson). You share gory bodily details with strangers and coworkers that you wouldn’t dare divulge pre-pregnancy. You cry because you’ll never again fit into your favorite tight-ass jeans. You accuse your partner of thinking you look like a troll. You cry over commercials. You organize your house into an Ikea showroom. You wonder if your lady parts will ever recover from childbirth. You pay extra attention to your pets because you don’t want them to think they’ll be neglected when the baby comes. (This also makes you cry.) You cry because you feel guilty crying. You feel even guiltier dismissing your guilt because you feel justified in crying. You’re pregnant for godsake. Cry dammit.
On good days all you can think about are the life-changing adventures that lie ahead. You get giddy picturing yourself nursing an infant, tickling a toddler, packing the lunch of a kindergartener.
On difficult days you fall into bed heavy and exhausted. As your baby kicks you to sleep you wonder if this misery will ever end. Regarding labor, you pray it comes quickly. What kind of a fool gives birth to a nine-pound baby without drugs? What will become of your boobs? Will they wilt after breastfeeding? Will you never see cleavage again? Will breastfeeding EVEN WORK? How on earth do you use a pump? Ugh. Once again you feel like a cow.
You’re pregnant forever, and then one day you’re not.
One day you’re walking in the park with your toddler, who you’ve been told ranks in the 75th percentile for height, and a well-meaning stranger stops to remind you that she used to watch you waddle with your dog through this same park when you were SO PREGNANT, OUT TO HERE AND READY TO POP.
This thought will fill you with warmth. You’ll introduce the stranger to your son, who is almost two, and you’ll feel a little sad that time moves so fast and a little silly that you bitched so much when you were pregnant. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever do it again – not because pregnancy is so difficult, but because motherhood is.
You wont dwell on the thought for long because your kid is developing opinions, especially when it comes to parks. And when he points to the slide and insists you let him play, you’ll do the thing you daydreamed about when you were pregnant. You’ll hoist him to the top of the slide and catch him, smiling, on his way down.