August 20, 2021
Dear Darkened Rose,
I recently read a discussion board full of anxious mothers where they were talking about when their first pregnancies finally felt real. The rational people were saying, “when I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time.” My kind of people were giving answers like, “2 months after the baby was born.” I think that will be the same for me. I still struggle to grasp that this is really happening, and that I am finally at this stage in my life that I have long looked forward to. Granted, my belly is undeniably pregnant-shaped these days to the point that even strangers are now asking when I am due (I thought we all were in agreement that this was a big societal no-no).
I have yet to develop or come across any reliable tool to use for getting over feeling defeated by my self-image right now. I hate that I waste my time looking too far forward to the days of feeling strong and agile again. I never imagined myself being so abhorrently vain and selfish during this time. I regret this. One small coping mechanism I am working on establishing is to sing the first 11 or so words of All My Life by K-Ci and Jojo in order to regain perspective. I intend on doing a lot of pregnancy meditation in third trimester, especially after my last day of work. October 8th cannot get here soon enough.
A few days after my last letter to you, I went to the OB-GYN for a check-up where I was informed that I have an anterior placenta. Meaning, it sits at the front of my belly. While this is no cause for concern, it did clarify why I was not feeling the movements of our little boy (nicknamed “V”) very strongly. The doctor mentioned that his kicks and jabs would be muffled for awhile, but she reassured me that family would be able to feel him soon enough. I was hoping that when that time came maybe this pregnancy might feel more grounded.
So! About those fetal movements…
From about 18-24 weeks, it was just me and him. He would gift me these deep-bellied, whispered movements and in exchange I gave him spicy foods (never been a fan of even the slightest bit of spiciness in foods until now). Caleb finally felt him for the first time after I had a spicy, virgin Bloody Mary while on our Utah family vacation. In hopes others might catch a kick or two, I downed a lot of heavily Tabasco’d sips on vacation. I walked around with this sexy red, spice mustache trying to convince Janie and Daddy to feel my belly for a really long time until they could maybe feel something. No such luck, but Caleb has now felt him several times since.
There was one instance that Caleb felt him last week that will probably go down as the time I will remember most. I felt V having repetitive movements (maybe hiccups or just some well-paced dance moves), and on this one occasion I was able to call Caleb over in time for him to catch a good amount of his nudges. Caleb laid his head on my belly, and without me having to eagerly ask, “did you feel those?!?” Caleb just started giggling. My heart damn near popped out of my chest. Caleb’s mom also felt some of V’s movements when we last visited her, and that just felt so validating.
He’s really in there!!!! Maybe.
While I might live in slight disbelief of my pregnancy, I do not feel ill-prepared for what is to come. I have studied more in these past five months than I ever have in my 31 years of life. I have and will continue to research pregnancy, birth, newborn sleeping/eating schedules, the life and neurology of infants and toddlers, general parenting, and pedagogy.
I know that this all can (and likely will) change the moment I have my first round of contractions, but I am hopeful that I will be going into parenthood with some optimism and self-esteem. Which are personally newfound tools for me to pack while I am walking through an unfamiliar door. Please don’t feel the need to tamper me down with your reasoning for why I could and should be worried.
Aside from reading, I cannot overlook the valuable lessons that my current job has provided for me in this arena. While the past 2 years here have been riddled with some uniquely difficult scenarios, I recognize that these moments added a wealth of untapped knowledge to my brain that I am unlikely to have gathered any other way. Finding ways to remain stable and calm in truly intense, crisis scenarios has been a skill I have been given a lot of opportunities to practice and hone. Not to mention, I am all too familiar with managing very long shifts and sleep deprivation. Running on 3-5 hours of non-consecutive sleep a day has become straight up child’s play for me (literally).
On the other hand, walking around with a watermelon for a belly is not something I have had any experience with in the past, and I can’t say that that brings me much joy. These next 3 months I am going to have to force my way out of being fixated on my growing body. As I ride into 3rd trimester here in the next 2 weeks, I have no doubt I’ll continue to feel more and more like I resemble the Venus of Willendorf. However, I also know that the more time goes on the stronger Mr. V will get and the more I will recognize his different, distinct little body parts.
I really want to run with these bits of glee and pride, and refuse to neglect them being the elements of happiness that they are.
Similar to the olden days of Facebook, V and I are having simple conversations through pokes. One morning while still in bed, I felt him poking in one specific spot. So, naturally, I poked back. I think he took it as me squaring up so he started throwing punches, and we dueled for a bit. These moments are rare, but sometimes he gets feisty. This morning was definitely a spicy one for him. After having had about 7 good lines of discourse back and forth in the early morning, I could almost feel the hardwired cynicism in my brain start to unravel. Dare I say that I could also feel even a bit more of some enchanting feelings starting to surface.
Also this morning, a little girl on the home I was working on shifted her mood when I presented her with an opportunity. It’s worth noting that this came following having just disengage with her for a good while when she was upset (in order to see if she could work it out on her own). To model what I wanted to see, I innately began to work to calm myself and put myself in a good mental state. Without much thought, I just gently rubbed my belly for comfort.
Eventually, her brain made it’s way outside the limbic system, and she met me where I was. I then asked her if she wanted to feel my pet alien, and she agreed. To both of our surprise, V landed a swift kick on her hand. Her face was priceless! I like to think V was standing up for me and my mental stability, but I think she was convinced she made a new friend. I hope that when he comes out as a human baby, she will not be bummed in his lack a extraterrestrial-ness.
I wish you were here to feel him, too.
I love and miss you.
Enclosed are cool things.
The Song: Stoney Creek by Xavier Rudd