Feeling this human move in my belly is indescribable, and I don’t ever want to forget the feeling. At week 30, my little man is busier than ever – reaching, stretching and kicking every inch of me he can. Mornings are my favorite. I can feel his little body rolling around as the caffeine from my coffee warms my tummy and wakes him up. I could stare at my stomach all day watching my shirt bounce around. I couldn't help but laugh while I sat in the waiting room at Firestone the other day - my belly was very visibly busy as August bounced and kicked the roundest part of me. My shirt quivered uncontrollably and my hands bounced as they held a book resting on my stomach. I wondered if any of the others waiting for their cars happened to catch a glimpse of the odd shapes my stomach was making, only to awkwardly look away and pretend they didn't just see that. My husband and I have already started a game with our son: wherever I feel him kick, we poke that spot as fast as we can, and 9 times out of 10 he responds with a new roll or jab in another area… and we chase him there and poke my belly, waiting for his next move.
I had another appointment this week. I’ll be visiting the doctor every two weeks now as August’s due date draws closer. My doctor took my hand, helped me lay back on the examination table, and we saw my belly do that weird thing it’s been doing – when I use my abdominal muscles, it goes from round belly to kind of pointy looking (I know, real cute). I always assumed that the shape changed like that because my abs don’t exist anymore and that was my pregnant self's version of a crunch (crunch is a good word for what it looks like, as the sides of my stomach seem to collapse in). The doctor enlightened me and said it’s actually called a contraction. I’ve been experiencing contractions for I don’t even know how long, and didn’t even know it!!
The doc measured my belly and poked around a little bit. I was amazed when he said my son is already head down, “pretty lodged in there.” Weird, right? How is it that this little infant already knows where he needs to be to make his debut into the world?! I think my kid is smarter than I am at this whole birth thing. Doc says I can feel him move all over the place because he spins on his head, kicking at different angles (cue visuals of a break dancing boss-baby)! I never knew which parts of him I was feeling. During long walks, I could have sworn I was feeling his head pressing into the side of my belly. When I rub my fingers over that area, it’s round and hard. Now that the doctor has informed me he’s in birth mode, I learned I was probably feeling a little baby bottom! My doctor gave me the biggest smile I could have asked for, too – assuring me that my body is doing exactly what it should be doing, that my son is just the right size, in the perfect position and now I’m (literally and figuratively) in the final stretch to give birth.
Life in the womb is truly remarkable, and it takes my breath away. There’s not one thing I can complain about in terms of feeling this life moving inside me. Even when he seems to nuzzle under my rib cage, it's the best discomfort I know how to describe. This new life is as mysterious to me as death, but it’s my body making it happen. Human, woman me is being used to actually create a life... a person who will have their own story to tell. It makes my knees buckle, just so thankful that God has given me a role to play in creation.
I’ve questioned my body a lot in the past, and I’ve questioned it even more during pregnancy. I’ve never been pregnant before, so I didn’t and still don’t know what my body should be doing. I’ve let outside opinions get in my head and make me question my body’s ability to do what it was created to do. When someone said they thought I was going to be huge, or when someone raised their eyebrows when they heard how far along I am… or when someone asked me if I waddle… All those comments and facial expressions made me question my ability to carry this baby. I've even listened to a man tell me all the reasons I shouldn't give birth naturally, as if I'm not capable of doing it. I'm seriously surprised by what some people will say to a pregnant woman; all manners and common courtesy just disappear. Some days I wondered if I was even worthy of this gift. I would look at myself in the mirror and actually feel a level of shame about my growing bump. Was I doing something wrong?
Now that I’m nearing the end of pregnancy, I wish I could go back and tell myself that all of those outside voices were lies making me question the miracle entrusted to me. I kick myself wondering how I could ever feel shame about this human I’m getting ready to bring into the world. How could I ever even think about comparing myself to other pregnant women at the clinic – who were each given their own mountain to climb that undoubtedly looks different from mine? Mother nature is not meant to be identical. Waiting for diabetes test results a few weeks ago, I glanced around the room at other women waiting on the same test. One was incredibly slim, with a little bitty belly. I was floored that she and I were on the same week. I'm definitely curvy all over... and I'm finally OKAY with that. I wish I could tell every mom-to-be that her body is beautiful, and that every new curve or even lack thereof is unique to her and her child. Nobody else's opinion or comments should matter, aside from the doctor's, of course. Even then, I've learned that some things they forecast may not be set in stone. I've technically gained more weight than they anticipated, but my doctor and nurse both assured me that every woman's body reacts to pregnancy differently... and that I truly am healthy.
Women’s bodies do all kinds of weird things in this 9-10 month span. That's why my husband and I call it the glow-struggle. We throw up, we cry, we moan, we smell everything. Our bellies, boobs and butts become unrecognizable. We run to the bathroom and other days we have trouble going to the bathroom. When we get really hungry, think "hangry" and add light-headedness, watering mouths and the inability to stand. We choke back liquid fire, we crave weird things (right now I can never have enough ice on hand). Sometimes we literally can't stop moving our legs. I swear we suffer from sympathy hangovers if we stay out past 10. We lose our range of motion, we swell, we stretch, we grow, we adjust, and we persevere.
I’ve been reminded a few times that this will be my first Mother’s Day… and I feel like I can finally embrace it with some pride. I’ve been trusted with carrying a human from creation to birth and until now, I’ve questioned my ability to do so every step of the way. Is “Mom” even a title I deserve? No. I am not worthy of this mysterious process of making a human, let alone bringing one up to make a real difference in the world some day. But I remind myself that it's not up to me... and I thank God that He is a giver of things we definitely do not deserve. If He trusts me to carry this child, why wouldn't I trust Him to carry me through?
An actual conversation between my husband and I, saved in my phone March 21:
Danny, with his hand on my belly: There's a baby boy in there.
Danny: We're about to be responsible for actually raising another person.
Me: Yes. We have to make sure he grows into a decent adult.
Danny: Thank goodness we have God to help us... otherwise he'd be screwed.