Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Always Thought I'd Be Taller

At some point or another in one's childhood, I think that it's normal to wish that you were older. I think that's probably the reason that up until we're about 10 or 11, we count our age in halves or even quarters: "I'm four-and-three-quarters" or "I'm nine-and-a-half."

I don't remember a time in my childhood that I wasn't wishing I was older. I think that for me, the yearning had something to do with the fact that my brother was SO much older. He got to do really cool things that I was going to be too young to do for a very long time. I remember being four and wishing I was thirteen (when Andy got Bar Mitzvahed), being seven and wishing I was sixteen (the year Andy got a car), and being eight and wishing I was seventeen (the year Andy went to prom and graduated from high school).

I vividly remember being about two-years-old when my dad promised that he would teach me to fly when I turned ten (I truly believed that he could fly until I was almost eight), that I could get my ears pierced when I turned thirteen (my mom relented at 11), that I could shave my legs when I was twelve (I started shaving them at summer camp long before this), and that they would never ever let me drive (Andy crashed the car he got for his 16th birthday not long after he got it).

But for me, the yearning to be older didn't end. When I was a teenager, I wanted desperately to be in college. I thought that the world would be my oyster, that I would take it all by storm, that if I could simply bypass the years between high school and grown-up, life would be better. I even wished it in my 20s, thinking that my 30s would be so much easier -- financially, emotionally, professionally.

Wishing the years away has never really stopped me from living in the moment. Rather, it has always been a way to remind myself to slow down, to live through what I'm currently experiencing. And it has always served as a reminder that I can and should envision the future, that it might not always be as difficult as whatever I'm currently experiencing.

But there was another component to the whole fantasy of being older (and wiser) than I was. Whenever I pictured the grown-up version of myself, I was always taller. Not much taller, not freakishly tall, but certainly a few inches taller. A more respectable 5'5", say.

The taller-than-I-am image of myself has persisted throughout my adult life. When I imagined myself graduating from college, I stood in my cap and gown and modest heels, standing head-to-head with my friends. When I pictured myself walking down the aisle at my wedding, I was wearing flats, because I naturally came to somewhere around my dad's cheek. When I pictured myself in a courtroom, I comanded quite a presence in my sleek pumps, because the extra three inches they gave me made me a daunting 5'8".

And here I am, about to have a baby. I am quite round these days, so round that I wonder if I am awkwardly round, round like I give the impression that I might topple forward at any moment. I am the kind of round that causes strangers to chuckle at me as I waddle down the stairs. I look like I swallowed a bowling ball and then ate about 12000 calories. Every day for nine months.

I did not expect to be a tall pregnant woman. But even now, two weeks before my due date, I imagine a taller version of myself bending down to retrieve a dropped blankie or pacifier or taking our bundled bean out of our car. As it is, I will be stuck with myself, 5'2" on a tall day, frantically trying to scale our not-so-tall SUV in order to awkwardly haul the carseat out of the car, which is a little bit higher than is convenient for my height.

I think that the taller-than-I-am images in my mind are really about being older, being old enough, rather, to be someone's mom. My own mother was short, just 4'11" in bare feet, so it's not like I associate motherhood with exceptionally tall women. No, it's just that ever since I can remember, being older, being old enough to do SOMETHING, also meant being taller.

Now that there are just two weeks left in the pregnancy, people have started asking me whether or not I'm ready. In case you're interested, this is a terrible question for me. Of course I'm not ready. How can you be ready to be a parent? Isn't that sort of the point of parenting? You're not ready...ever... for anything? I mean, sure, you have blankets and clothes and diapers, but is that the kind of thing that makes you ready? Not by my standards.

Anyway, this is what I want to tell people when they ask: "No, of course I'm not ready. I have to grow three inches in the next two weeks; who can possibly be ready for that?!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

36 weeks

Dear Bean,

I have only dared to write directly to you a few times during this pregnancy, and even then, it has only been in the privacy of my own journal, never on this website. I talk to you in my head all the time, telling you how amazing you are, how glad I am that you are growing, how exciting it was to hear your heartbeat. I call you "little love," and "sweet one," and "darling bean" in my mind. Writing to you directly has felt different than writing about pregnancy. It has felt like I would be tempting fate, possibly writing a letter that, horrifyingly, you might never get to read. I have been too scared to address you directly.

But I woke up this morning with the overwhelming urge to write to you. I am 36 weeks pregnant today, you are somewhere around 4-5 weeks from making your way in the world. Just like I cannot believe that I made it to 16 weeks, to 20, to 30, I cannot believe that we are here, glancing around the corner at the day when you will actually make your arrival in this world. It is in your hands, little love. We are ready whenever you are ready. Rather, we are ready to be not ready for the way that you will certainly turn our world upside down. We are as ready as we will ever be.

Yesterday the doctor felt your head. While I won't go into the (intimate) details of how she did that, rest assured that it felt just as strange for me as it did for you. You responded exactly the way I would expect someone who has resided completely undisturbed for 36 weeks, and your heartrate skyrocketed to 165, calming down to its usual 145 after a few seconds, in rhythm with my own decreasing heartbeat.

The amazing thing about the experience was the fact that the doctor FELT your little head. Until that moment, I had imagined so many things about you: your feet, your hands, your eventual personality, whether your first word will be "Julie" or "Stephen." But until yesterday, I hadn't pictured your little newborn head. It swam in front of my eyes with sudden clarity -- dark and curly, covered in yuck, soft and mushy and cone-shaped and requiring the utmost care. I wanted to kiss the image in my mind, wanted to reach out my hand to stroke the picture of your beautiful little head. And then I realized that sometime within the next few weeks, I will get to actually kiss you, that I will brush those dark, soft curls with my actual fingers, that I will get to hold your neck and stare at your face and be the person in your life who gives you the utmost care.

So I woke up this morning and wanted to tell you this: I cannot wait to meet you.

With every ounce of love and then some,
Your Almost-Mama

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Ready" on One! Three...two...

At last week's 34-week appointment, my doctor turned to me and excitedly told me that 34 weeks is when she really feels good about a pregnancy.

Matt and I looked at her quizzically.

"34 weeks," she explained, "is when the risk for all of those horror-story-type pregnancy complications go way way down for the baby. So if you went into labor right now, we wouldn't try to stop you, we would just let your body do what it wants to do and in all likelihood, you would give birth to a perfectly healthy baby."

What good news! A perfectly healthy baby! We've waited so long to get here!

Except that Matt and I came home and promptly freaked the F out.

Of COURSE we want a perfectly healthy baby (who doesn't?). In fact, we're more or less "ready" for the baby (where ready is that place where we bought most of the things we need, or we know who we're borrowing them from, and we're ready for our world to turn upside down). Except that we're "ready" for the baby to make its appearance in six weeks. Or 5 weeks and two days at the time I'm writing this. Not now. Not 5 days ago.

So I now have a hospital bag that's packed with a really random assortment of things (pajamas, maternity clothes, underwear that I don't care about but is very comfortable). And we ordered a carpet for the nursery (greyish blue with a white border). And the baby's room is more or less coming together. You know, minus furniture. Also, my hospital bag doesn't have any clothes for the baby, which is ultimately fine because Julie is in charge of ensuring that the bean doesn't have to go home naked. But there we are: ready.


Bean, if you're paying attention, please know that your parents are not yet ready for you to make your appearance in the world. We're thrilled and excited to meet you, but we're a little slow on the uptake over here, failing to completely realize that 34 weeks pregnant doesn't just mean that you've been growing for 34 weeks, but also that you will be here sometime within the next six.

And parents out there who are reading this, please reassure me that this is normal, that realizing you're going to be a parent eventually just dawns on you. Tell me that we're not SO slow on the uptake that this is basically a referendum on our parenting skills even before we've had a chance to implement them. Because if it's a referendum, all of the Weyants (grown and in bean form) are in for some serious growing pains!