Well, I’m 30 1/2 weeks pregnant (31 weeks Friday, actually) and damn, I feel enormous. I entered that waddly stage a few weeks ago and naturally, it takes me longer to get to places than it did before. I’m almost certain that I’m at the size I was just before I gave birth to Raspberry and there’s still ten weeks to go. I’m at that point where I would love if I could wear leggings everywhere and when I’m actually in jeans (my skinny jeans still fit, but not very comfortably, but it’s better than my maternity jeans for some reason), I either undo the belt and button or take them off completely the instant I get home. Needless to say, navigating tight spaces can be a bit of a challenge, especially now that I resemble more of a cuboid. I was at Carrie’s last week and trying to squeeze myself between a chair and a countertop required tiptoeing and some slightly tricky, almost ninja-like maneuvering. Sometimes I actually forget that I can’t go through certain spaces like a regular person and am reminded when my belly crashes into a something. Oops.
This past week has seen me marvelling at how big the belly’s become. It feels like only weeks ago when I was sitting and poking at my excess abdominal skin, left over from the first pregnancy, and tracing the old silvery stretch marks. I can’t see the old stretch marks any more but the new (maybe?) purpley one are definitely evident as my belly takes on a supremely globe-like appearance. I stare in the mirror at the crazy blue veins snaking their way along the side of the belly, and those making a beeline for my nipples. The anatomist in me would love to see the extent of the veins and everything else under my skin that’s changed. Of course, my breasts are larger now. They have been for a while and I have some “holy shit!” moments when I just can’t believe their size, as my chest has never really that big to begin with. I’m actually wearing some of the bras I wore when I was nursing newborn Raspberry, bras that I thought I’d eternally stretched out but woohoo, they fit me now (or should I say “again?”). Thank goodness I didn’t toss them out when I’d believed I’d destroyed them by treating them as nursing bras.
The baby’s an active little one with somewhat predictable sleep/calm-wake cycles — when I’m out and about, it’s all quiet and when I’m settled and sitting down, it’s like a party in my uterus. Fetal Raspberry was the same way, although I don’t remember her having predictable sleep/wake cycles like this baby. It seems to be most active in the evenings and early in the mornings, when I’m lying in bed. I imagine that when I’m in bed, it’s tossing and turning in there, trying to get comfortable. If it had a blanket, it’d be readjusting it ten times over. In our drowsy early morning state, Lucas snuggles up and puts his hand on my belly because he knows the baby will likely be kicking up a storm then. Because of its more nocturnal tendencies, we nicknamed it Little Owl or octo-owl, as it sometimes feels like an octopus stretching out all its tentacles. I love the fact that sometimes, little bumps will protrude on my belly and I always wonder what body part it is. I like gently rubbing it, but that usually makes it disappear back into the depths of the uterus, like a mysterious sea creature slinking back into the deep, dark sea. The nickname hasn’t stuck as much as Raspberry’s when she was in-utero; we generally (boringly) call it “the baby.” This past week, Lucas started calling it pieni vauva, Finnish for “little baby,” as Raspberry learnt that at Finnish school last week. I think it’s adorable, just like when he calls me mon petit champignon, but that usually sends me into a fit of giggles.
It absolutely blows my mind that there’s ten weeks left. Truthfully, I’m terrified because I like the status quo and god knows we’re unprepared (please don’t let it decide to come early, please don’t let it decide to come early!). That’s pretty much the only reason. I’m not afraid of the birth or the changes to come, just the fact that we’re not prepared. I only just made my to-do list for the baby on the weekend, a task I’ve been putting off since the late summer. It’s not like we need a lot of things, but there are some things that need to be done, like getting nursing bras and excavating Raspberry’s old baby clothes from the suitcases atop our wardrobe. Seeing what needs to be done in a tangible form makes me a bit relieved, as the list doesn’t seem as long on paper as it does in my head, although I’m positive I’ve missed a couple of things that’ll come to me eventually.
Despite the fact that this pregnancy hasn’t been as simple as the last one, I’m really going to miss being pregnant, knowing that I’ll never be pregnant again (Lucas is adamant that we’re having two kids, no more, as he doesn’t think he can handle it, especially if they’re as high-strung as Raspberry, and he has repeatedly emphasized that he doesn’t want to be forty and dealing with all the crap that comes with having a small-ish child). For this reason and the fact that we’re still woefully unprepared, I’d like the baby to stay in for as long as possible (although, my due date is January 24th, and it’d be cool if it arrived then, as Raspberry’s birthday is February 24th and mine is March 24th). When I said that I sort of wished I had the two-year gestational period of an elephant, Lucas pointed out that even if that were the case, we’d still not be ready. So true. I think I had this same romantic sense of nostalgia for pregnancy the last time around too, although those emotions were primarily driven by the fact that I had an easy pregnancy and that Raspberry was a high-needs baby. It’s partly the whole idea that pregnancy is the easy part and raising the child is obviously not. Ha.
Being in the last trimester, I feel this sudden urgency to document the rest of the pregnancy, possibly because I haven’t done so very much thus far. I think I’ve taken more belly pictures in the mirror in the past few weeks than I have the rest of the pregnancy. By “more,” I really mean one every few weeks rather than few months. Of course, it’s hasn’t been as many as I took while pregnant with Raspberry, when the pictures were done weekly, although I think that was motivated by equal parts novelty and documentation.
The past few days, I’ve been thinking lots about the kind of images I’d like to make during the birth too, especially after I came across the work of this artist, Ana Álvarez-Errecalde, who took some very raw but amazing pictures of herself immediately following childbirth. Lucas says he’s uncomfortable taking such pictures, which is fine, because I don’t expect him to be the one taking the pictures, and I don’t want to copy her pictures but I do agree with her concept.
I actually want to take pictures while I’m delivering — is that insane though? I think I might’ve had this thought too when I was pregnant with Raspberry and Lucas said I was crazy and it didn’t happen, probably because I had the good fortune of having my artist-photographer sister present and she was able to document the experience for me (complete with pictures of an unwanted episiotomy that I didn’t know about until I saw said images). This time, the onus is on me to document the experience because I want to. I think knowing that this is the last time I’ll give birth makes me more inclined to want some visual record of the process, blood and all. I’ve got a bit of time to figure it out and research other artists who may have done something similar and see what kind of route I want to take. At this moment, honestly, I’m more excited about the prospect of taking pictures during the birth than I am of the birth, but I think that’s related to being unprepared. Ask me in a couple of weeks and I’ll probably have a different answer (we’d hope!).