Mile 20 of the marathon

Pregnancy is really such a see-saw. Up and down, up and down. And mostly I feel like an overtired playground toy and I wish everyone would get off me. 

"You're getting BIG." [Sigh. Also don't follow this up with a story about your cousin who's due very soon and swelled up like a balloon, looking awful.]

"Are you getting EXCITED?!" [I mean, what would happen if I said no? Like, what is the acceptable answer to this other than yes? Actually, I'm kind of nervous, thanks.]

"Only six more weeks!" [Shove a fully developed, regularly moving human baby into your uncomfortably expanded body cavity for six weeks and let me know how "only" that feels to you. This is literally like saying "You're almost there!" at mile 20 of a marathon. No, you're not. Those last six miles are the most difficult, mentally and physically. Your whole race can blow up in those six miles.]

"Well, what are you going to do if [X, Y, Z] happens?" [Well, I guess I'm still going to have a baby, just not to your specifications.]

Obviously so much commentary is nothing but well-meaning, but I wonder if there will ever come a time when I can talk about anything other than being a baby garden. Because I assume once he's born, all anyone will want to talk to me about is the baby. I'm not mad at it. I'm thrilled to be a mother and I'll likely want to talk about him until the end of time, but... I worry this is the end of me as an individual human being.

That said, yes, clearly the last six months of blogging have been solely about pregnancy, but I'm controlling that conversation. I'm documenting my journey for me. I am a storyteller and I want to remember all of these stories. I also talk a lot about it in my personal life -- albeit at this point I'm mostly talking about HOW UNCOMFORTABLE I AM. 

BUT YOU GUYS. Will I ever have another adult conversation where I'm still me? Not a delicate pregnant person? Not a mom? Just me. Like, I'm pretty obsessed with my dog. Next-level obsessed. I'm also pretty obsessed with my husband. I have Opinions about Important Things in the world. I like to talk about them. I am still addicted to all my favorite shows. I will -- soooooooon -- get to be the runner I used to be. And I'm pretty obsessed with that part of me, too. 

I HAVE SHIT TO TALK ABOUT. I almost feel self-conscious about being pregnant sometimes because it's such an easy, small-talk topic of conversation. It's like the literal elephant in the room. I am the elephant in the room. Sometimes, though, I just want to talk about how badly I want to adopt 37 dogs or how I'm real upset that Stefan straight-up killed Enzo on The Vampire Diaries episode I just watched. 

I don't want to lose me, and I'm legitimately concerned about that. It's not that I don't want to talk about being pregnant, it's just that... I'm tired. Of being pregnant, mostly.

Another interesting aspect of pregnancy is how baby-focused it is. Everything is focused on baby. The concerns, the questions, the care. I've read horrid statistics about the maternal death rate in the United States, partially due to women having babies older and with more complex health issues, and partly because the medical system focuses on fetal and infant safety and survival over the mother's health and well-being.

 I SEE IT. And it's hard to not feel like a vessel when you do.

A couple weeks back I was reading an article on my pregnancy app about sleep difficulties during pregnancy. It went on about all the ways pregnancy can make sleep absolutely terrible. The article listed the side effects of little sleep, the discomforts, the ways in which it can drive a woman crazy. Then it literally ended with, "But don't worry too much, none of this harms the baby, so just sleep however you can."

AS LONG AS BABY IS OKAY. DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOU, MOM. 

Don't get me wrong, I am the most fierce protector of this baby already, and will continue to be. It's to the point where I will actively avoid riding in a car with someone who has less-than-excellent driving habits because, so help me god, if you crash this car with me inside and harm this baby in any way, I will hunt you down and rip out your lungs. 

See? It's excessive. 

So I am not here to take any care away from the baby, but, like, who, other than me, is looking out for my well-being? When he's finally here and smooshed into my carpal-tunnel-free arms, will everyone just gather around to take him away and coo and coddle and gripe at me about his well-being and breastfeeding and whether he's comfortable or safe and if he's getting enough food and rest while I whither away into the background like a shriveled prune, disappearing into the newborn forest without the baby I spent nine months painstakingly growing and harboring inside my body? 

I mean, probably.

See? I'm nervous. 

Last night I cried while trying to fall asleep with my aching forearms and numb fingers because it feels like a lot of pressure to carefully bring a baby into the world. I took an introduction to breastfeeding class last night, and while it was incredibly helpful and I'm thrilled to hopefully be able to feed our baby for free, right from my own body, the reality of reality hit hard. 

I need to know how to feed (whether a bottle or my boob), I need to know when he's hungry, I need to know my body and his body well enough to balance it all. I assume there are some finely-tuned maternal instincts that kick in, but right now my maternal instincts are like, "I should probably snuggle with my dog right now. Maybe take her for a walk."

Animals are way easier to feed, you guys. I just toss some expensive kibble in a bowl. A 5-year-old can do it, and she does. 

In two weeks, during my 36th week of pregnancy, I have a nonstress test and biophysical profile ultrasound scheduled. I feel weirdly nervous about them both. They'll take a deeper look at his growth and health and the conditions he's currently living within. They're standard tests when you're having a baby at the old, withered age of 35, but tests have always made me nervous, particularly when health is the test subject. 

I really, really would like to simply fast-forward through the next month until there's a baby here and he's safe and sound, and all is well. When I can look back on all of this fretting and discomfort and think, "SEE? TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. BABIES ARE NEAT."

But for now, here we sit. Halfway through week 34, and up 31 pounds with gold-star blood pressure. Hey, I'll take accolades where I can get them right now. 

My midsection is stuffed to the brim. The aches, pains and pelvic pressure are real. I don't think I could run a step, if I tried, and I haven't in almost four weeks. I've somehow skated by, so far, without a single stretch mark (knock on wood), and I'm still cranking out strength exercises for my legs, core and upper body. I swear I'm going to come away from this pregnancy with more muscle than I started with. I've never stuck to a strength routine so rigidly. But it does help ease the mental anguish from the loss of running. I don't have swollen feet or hands (yet), but I'd like to think that's my body's sole gift since cursing me with this torturous carpal tunnel. 

And yes, America, the baby (as far as we know) is well. And I'm fine, all things considered. Just sore and tired and suffering from an overactive mind. His nursery is damn well complete (and AMAZING), and there are only a few crucial things left on our baby-must-have list. I need to think about packing a hospital bag, but listen, I have a hard enough time packing for a night out of town, nonetheless packing in preparation for hours of painful labor and the transition from regular, boring human to mom. 

LISTS. THERE WILL BE LOTS OF LISTS. 

I've also partaken in lots of intense gazing into the eyes of my fur animals to remind them they're still and always my original babies, and I'll be goddamned if I care about them less when a human baby arrives. My mind and heart have room FOR THEM ALL, okay? 

Besides, Chicken is living her best damn life right now in her golden years, and I'll be damned if I'm going to disrupt that. Hope she likes babies. 

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