Monday, October 12, 2009

Thoughts about the little miracle

Now that I've finally gotten the blogjam of old updates out there, it's time to do some serious musing. The things that people ask, and that I always wondered myself before, are mostly along the lines of, "How do you feel? Do you feel different knowing that you're pregnant?"

By and large, the answer is, not really. I always thought that with all those physical changes, there would be this emotional change, something telling me, "You're grown up now. You're a woman now. You're a mom now." But there isn't. I look in the mirror and I look like the same person I always did (just a tiny bit poochier around the midsection). And I have felt like I've looked the same my whole life -- I never noticed a sudden moment where I thought, "I don't look like I'm six anymore." So a big part of me still feels six, and looks at myself saying, "I look six!"

I'm a married lady with a rather noticeable ring on my finger, so it seems I should feel like a grown-up now, or at any rate feel different than when I was single. But I feel the same, and the main difference about being married is that there's this man wandering around "my" apartment all the time. I don't feel that I have come into any new, mysterious knowledge, like I always imagined married people did -- that every time I saw someone who was newly married, they were thinking, "Well, I'm married. Things are different now, and these single people couldn't possibly understand." I don't feel that way at all. I feel just the same as I did before.

On the other hand, I have noticed slow, almost imperceptible changes. Like how at work, I gravitate toward the (much older than me) married teachers when it's lunchtime, instead of the (only slightly older than me) single teachers. I just find their conversation more interesting, and I don't feel like a pig for talking about my husband all the time. (When I'm surrounded by single people, talking about him feels like I'm name-dropping or bragging -- like people who say "my boyfriend" every other sentence. With married people, talking about one's spouse is perfectly natural, and everyone asks after mine.)

Then there are so many things about me that don't need to change to be a wife and mother. For example, my interests. At college, people thought I had no opinions of my own, simply because I am not very politically minded. I can tell you what doesn't work, but I never have any better solutions to offer, and everything I hear from other people sounds so plausible I want to agree with everybody. But if you bring up other issues -- like birth control, discipline, childbirth, nutrition, vaccination, circumcision, or breastfeeding -- I am all over the conversation. I am brimful of opinions, often overflowing. It was just that these issues didn't come up much in college.

Of course, having opinions on things doesn't make one ready to be a good mother. I do have some experience, though. With the exception of one summer job (I cleaned houses), I have worked in childcare in every single job I've held. And of course I helped out an awful lot with the little kids when I was a teenager.

However. None of these things makes me feel remotely like a mother. Even the fact that I am one, technically speaking, does not make me feel like a mother either. At this point the little munchkin is indistinguishable from a stomach bug. (Or perhaps some nastier form of parasite ... I feel pretty wretched sometimes!) I don't look pregnant, I don't feel motherly, I just feel like plain old me, about six or twelve years old, playing house. I can't quite see myself, a few short months from now, carting a baby around everywhere I go that is actually mine.

I'm excited, though. I'm excited the way I've been excited about every major life change -- when I can't quite picture what's on the other side, but I'm looking forward to it all the same. I think of what this kid might turn out like. I dream about him all the time (in the dreams it's generally a him). And it's kind of scary how much I love the little stranger already. I drive more carefully, cross streets more carefully, and eat more carefully just because of him (or her). I live in a passionate carefulness, for fear of doing anything that might hurt her (or him). In the middle of the nastiest stomach upset or the loneliest wakeful night, I find myself thinking, "I wish I didn't feel this way, but I'd rather feel this way than not have the baby coming." When it's unpleasant, it's unpleasant in a worthwhile kind of way -- like the way I felt at the orthodontist, only more so. I'd rather have no suffering and all joy, but I'll take the suffering if I can get the joy.

It is getting late -- for me -- so I had better go. (My pregnant self needs even more sleep than my old self did, and teaching is grueling anyway, so I'm really better if I turn in by nine-thirty. What an old fogey I'm becoming.) I hope to post my thoughts in here from time to time, if only (in case no one reads this blog) so that I will remember them later. My pregnancy journal is as empty as the day I bought it, except for a page where I was translating stuff from the Greek and needed some scrap paper. Perhaps this will serve a little better.

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