26 June 2011, by Tan Yi Lin
Sometime around the middle of next week, I will roll (literally) into my ninth month – starting with my 33rd week – of pregnancy. Given that a baby is considered full term at the end of the 37th week, it suddenly dawned on me that this pregnancy could be drawing to a close pretty soon.
The baby herself seems to be sensing this. She had already gone “bottoms up” a few weeks back. The doctor says it’s a position that babies naturally prefer, given the “upside down pear” shape of the uterus, but it seems like she’s pretty intent on getting behind the starting line early. Today, Dan observed that the baby bump had shifted lower but I dismissed it in our haste to leave the house on time. At noon, while walking out for lunch, I realised that my husband was actually right. I was waddling awkwardly because it felt like I was walking with a melon in my pelvis. Every step took more effort and made me want to pee (even though I had just gone.) I felt around for the usual bump near my right rib – that’s the baby’s rump – and it had shifted lower indeed, in line with my (stretched-out-until-non-existent) belly button. No wonder I wasn’t gasping for air today and could eat an entire plate of chicken rice without feeling like bursting. Amazing – not because the baby had lowered herself, but rather because… the Man was actually right.
Feeling a tad nostalgic, I did a mental stocktake on where we were at this time last year and the journey we took to get to here. Just over a year ago, we had just received the dismal results of my hysterosalpingogram and had chosen the route to IVF. Back then, I had high expectations for a positive outcome on our first try. Since then, after failing once and hearing of others’ less than positive experiences, I realise that we could have had all sorts of odds stacked against us at every single stage of the IVF process, but somehow, we managed to sail through relatively unscathed to where we are today.
We have many things to be thankful for. In a rush of sentimentalism, I realised that I’m going to miss the following things about being pregnant:
1. Feeling Her Every Movement
It started with tiny, gentle flicking sensations from the inside, which had me wondering “Am I imagining that?” or “Was that baby or just gas?” throughout the day. These soon graduated to unmistakable jabs and wavelike movements. Yes, it’s tiring having my insides punched around every day, but the baby and I never going to be this physically close again. I’m also going to miss seeing the husband’s tickled reactions when he places his cheek on my belly and she hits him hard in the face. She has also kicked him in the groin and butt a couple of times when we hug – probably her indignant response to being squashed between us.
Okay, I lied about being sentimental. The other points are about the perks and conveniences that will disappear once this pregnancy ends in birth.
2. Moving Around Easily
Yes, I waddle. Yes, I feel like a blimp at times, especially when I get “trapped” amongst chairs and tables in a coffeeshop and can’t find a clear exit route without knocking into furniture or asking people to pull in their chairs to let me through. But a baby bump is nothing compared to the amount of stuff that accompanies you once the baby is out. I look at all the baby gear lying around the house and I’m honestly not thrilled at lugging it around. Not even in that pretty diaper bag or nice stroller. Fuss-free is my preferred mode of living, but I guess that’s coming to an end now.
3. Being Offered a Seat or a Ride
I haven’t been in desperate need of a seat on my daily commute to and from work on the MRT, but it’s always nice to be offered one. These days, I thankfully sink into any seat I get – it brings real relief to my back and bum. Plus, it’s really not easy keeping your balance on a very crowded train where there isn’t a handle within easy reach (actually, nothing is quite within easy reach anymore now.) I was pretty cheesed off by a letter written by a newlywed to the Straits Times forum page, where he complained that couples nowadays don’t want to have children because it’s too expensive to own a car and no man would want his pregnant wife to jostle with other people on our overcrowded public transportation. While I disagree with him, I cannot deny that being driven to work is a little luxury that I enjoy while pregnant. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t cave in to paying $6.50 in ERP but as Dan says, we don’t have that long more to go and how many more times am I going to go through life being heavily pregnant anyway? Not that many.
4. Pretty Hair and Other Nice Things
Yes, bimbotic, I know. But it’s true. My hair is ordinarily very fine, flat, breaks easily and drops like mad. Since getting pregnant, I’ve been luxuriating in a thicker head of hair and a very low hairfall casualty rate. People dish out compliments more readily too, like “You’re glowing!” and “You’re looking good!”, which I otherwise would very seldom get!
5. The Attention
A fish dish for every home-cooked meal and at dinner with the in-laws. First dibs on lunch places at work. Having your food spooned onto your plate for you. How can one possibly refuse doling out nice gestures like these for pregnant women? I definitely can’t – I would do the same for my pregnant friends.
People pointing out steps and curbs when I walk, telling me to watch my step, to be careful, to take care. It all can get slightly naggy at times (I’m pregnant, not blind!), but I appreciate the care and concern. Once the baby is out, the attention will shift. Everybody is going to tell her to eat more and be careful instead! Me? I’ll just be relegated to the vessel who delivered the goods – I can jolly well get my own food and watch my own step now!
6. The Excuse for an Appetite
“It’s not me, it’s her!” and “Your daughter wants to eat (fill in latest craving)” are such convenient lines to utter whenever the urge to eat anything unhealthy strikes. Like MacDonald’s Hot Cakes every Saturday morning (two pieces for the baby and just one for me, thank you.) As Dan might tell you, he was enjoying a morning lie-in and lovingly singing My Girl(s) to his wife and baby one Saturday morning. His wife perked up and asked, “Did you say Maccers?” His daughter immediately cast her vote for Hot Cakes by shoving my belly so that it growled audibly…. The man had no choice but to drag himself out of bed and drive us out for breakfast at MacDonald’s. Yaaaay!
7. The Excuse for Weight Gain
Related to Point 6. I weigh myself, prod my belly, mutter angrily, “See lah you. Who asked you to eat Hot Cakes every Saturday?” and get away with it. Life is good. Plus, I can wail “Nothing fits me anymore! I have NOTHING to wear!” and it’s true. Hello Asos.com!
8. The Excuse to Let It All Hang Out
Related to Point 7. It dawned on me after a huge crab dinner last night that I only have two more months to let my tummy poof out as much as I like and no one would blink an eye or tut tut. Once the baby is out, I’ll have to go back to sucking it in for photos and under too-tight tops after a large meal. Bra-extenders will be deemed an embarrassment, no longer a necessity due to an expanding rib cage during pregnancy. Damn!
9. The Excuse for Nightly Air-Conditioning
We don’t usually sleep with the air-con on. Reasons are mixed: part health, part environmental, part financial. Recently, the weather plus my roaring bodily thermostat has made sleeping under the natural breeze (what breeze?) unbearable. So “Beep!” goes the air-con remote and on comes the wonderfully cool air. Every.Single.Night.
10. Blaming It on the Hormones
Grouchy moods. Sweaty pits. Angst-filled rants. Random tears. Everything can be blamed on pregnancy hormones. I will have no more excuse to cry when Dan sings If We Hold On Together from the cartoon The Land Before Time simply because I’m deeply touched by the ordinarily cheesy lyrics – and because I feel sorry for the baby dinosaurs who got separated from their mummies. Go ahead – roll your eyes *sniff*
Of course, there are many things not to miss about being pregnant as well. But in the light of the everything we went through to conceive, these discomforts and inconveniences are dismissively minor. Little pregnancy aches and pains, or putting up with tired feet from standing throughout a train journey, pale in comparison to the daily jabs and maddening anxiety while waiting for results. So, yeah, I’m not complaining (okay, I do. But only to the husband.)
Like it or not, it’s time to move on from pregnancy to motherhood soon. And yeah, I think I’m going to like it. A lot.