I am 21 weeks pregnant today. As I write this, I can feel the bean doing a somersault. Maybe he’s excited and wants to come out in 18 weeks! Maybe she likes her cozy home and wants to stay there for another 20. Either way, the calendars tell me that I’m over halfway there.
“Happy halfway there!” read Elissa’s email from last Thursday. And I read it and thought, “oh my god.”
That night on the way home I turned to Matt with a panicked look in my eyes. “What?!,” he asked, “what is it?” I put my hand on his arm to steady myself. “Matt,” I said, “it has to come OUT.” He laughed. He can do that, you see, because he doesn’t have a vagina.
But in reality, I’m not scared about labor. I’m too naive to know what to be afraid of. I have conveniently skipped the “Labor and Delivery” chapter in my books. My “birth plan” is to be admitted to the hospital while pregnant and to be discharged from the hospital holding a baby. What happens in between admission and discharge is up to me, Matt, the bean, and my doctor, not in that order.
What I am scared about is actually being someone’s mother, and doing so sooner rather than later. It has to come OUT, as in, it has to come into the world, it has to exist in our apartment, it has to ride safely in our car. It has to be clothed and fed. It has to have toys and books, blankets and black-out curtains. But more than the things that it has to have, more than the mountains of necessary and not-so-necessary baby stuff that is certain to accumulate in our apartment overnight, the bean has to exist in the world as a baby. The bean has to become a person in the world.
And what a scary world it is.
I’m not talking about the world of wars and climate change and Republicans (though lord knows that I could). I’m talking about my world, the world where Matt and I are pretty young and have no idea how to be parents. I’m talking about the world where my genetically-related family lives miles and miles away. I’m talking about the world where daycare is expensive and people ask me questions about how much I care about infant CPR. I’m talking about the world where we still get wrapped around the axle (every day!) about work and bosses and dry cleaning.
Everyone says that our world will shift. These soothsayers explain it all calmly, with a wave of their hand. Sometimes the shift will seem gradual, they say, and you’ll wake up sometime in June and realize that the lens through which you view the universe is different than the lens you were using in December. Dry cleaning and bosses will seem silly in comparison. And sometimes the shift will be immediate, they warn, and the day after the baby is born you will find yourselves un-self-consciously referring to your breasts as the “moo-makers.”
To say that I’m excited about it doesn’t really explain what I’m feeling. Excited is how you feel about your birthday, or a vacation. Excitement for me always implies a known component; I generally know what I am excited about. This time, while I am excited to see our little bean live and in-person, I am also apprehensive. I am uncertain, confused, nervous, tentative. I am guarding the world that we currently live in, struggling to balance day-to-day life with the ways that day-to-day life is already 100% different, all while totally unable to comprehend how it will change even more than it has since that day in July when I found out that I was pregnant.
You see, the bean has to come OUT. I will have moo-makers and new lenses in a matter of weeks. WEEKS! That’s what it means to be over halfway there, there where the world is different, where the ground has shifted, where the population of the world (our world) has increased so fundamentally, so dramatically, that it’s like we’re making space for a bean farm, not a bean.
So in the next 18, 19, 20 weeks, I have things to do. I have to store up on fertilizer and dirt, rakes and tractors. I have to get ready for the bean invasion, the bean explosion, the magnificent mountain of bean. In plain English this means that I have things to buy, pictures to finally frame, dinner dates to squeeze in. But more than that it means that I have to do exactly what I’m already doing. I have to stand at the precipice of my existing world and peer over the edge, holding Matt’s hand and wondering what’s out there. And then, when the time is right, the bean will help us all jump, the first of many things it will do to take us to a new and different world.