Today I am 20 weeks pregnant, halfway to my estimated due date of February 18, 2016.
It’s one of those moments that makes time feel like it’s passing quickly and slowly all at once. February sounds incredibly far away, and sometimes I have trouble imagining that come February there might finally be a living baby in our house. At the same time, it’s exciting to be reaching the “new” parts of pregnancy, and now that the semester has started it feels like time is flying by.
Speaking of the semester starting, it’s now becoming blindingly obvious enough that my students are starting to notice and ask questions about my pregnancy. One of our masters students was in my office earlier this week talking about an issue she’d been having (a closed-door sort of issue)… and when that subject was exhausted she tentatively asked when I was due, and said she wasn’t sure it was appropriate, but she’d been wondering. I reassured her that it was fine to ask, but apparently that blanket reassurance was all she needed to quickly launch into personal questions like what does it feel like when the baby kicks and aren’t I so excited to be pregnant and, and, and… it was just a barrage. I get it, and I remember being fascinated by pregnancy at that age. She’s got a live-in boyfriend and she’s probably thinking about marriage and kids someday. She has also mentioned before that she’s adopted, and I wonder if that plays into her intense fascination with pregnancy and all things baby.
She’s not the only one. My women in science group noticed (just the four who are on the Steering Committee), and during our meeting last week they wanted to know it all too: was this my first? Did I know if it was a boy or a girl? How big was he? (When I gave the standard 18-week produce answer of “about the size of a mango” they just about dissolved into girly rapture.)
I’ve been surprised by how difficult I’m finding it to deal with student questions. On the one hand, they’re truly adorable, and their enthusiasm is very sweet. On the other hand, I just don’t feel comfortable talking about my daughter’s death with them, and I feel some pressure (which I’m sure I’m placing entirely on myself) to be the cool, calm, collected, bubbly pregnant lady and feed their enthusiasm about pregnancy. I just can’t imagine turning their eager smiles into awkward grimaces by telling them that no, this is my second, but my first baby died at about this point in my pregnancy last year. Or telling them that while I’m excited and grateful to be pregnant, I’ve also had to deal with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty because this is a high-risk pregnancy after a loss. Those are things that I’m now comfortable saying to many adults my age or older, but still not to my students. When I think about it, I wonder if I’m really doing them a disservice by perpetuating the myth of the easy, magical pregnancy… but I also don’t think it’s my responsibility to puncture that myth for them if I’m not comfortable with it, which apparently I’m not, at least for now.
So I grin and bear it, or fake it til I make it, or whatever cliche you prefer. In some ways, it’s nice to have a category of people who treat me like a “normal” first-time pregnant lady — so far, that’s how I’ve left it at the therapeutic riding center where I volunteer as well, and it’s kind of fun to slip into that persona and just let people be giddy on my behalf. But I feel most relaxed and like myself with the people who know my history, who get it, and who don’t mind when I say slightly weird or morbid things. People like the people who comment on my blog, so thanks, you guys. 🙂
So here I am. Halfway. Pregnancy feels (physically) very easy right now, and this little guy is quite a kicker — so much so that my husband has been able to feel him for the past week or so during his dance parties. He kicks during meetings with students, he kicks when I’m relaxing after classes, or when my husband and I are snuggling on the couch after dinner. I took the big (for me) step this week of signing us up for prenatal classes — it was so painful to have to cancel them last time around that I kept putting it off, but now we’re committed, and I feel relief knowing that whatever the outcome I’ll hopefully be at least a little more prepared for labor and delivery this time. I also signed us up for an October tour of the L&D center at the local hospital, figuring that it would be better to go back to the site of our traumatic first birth experience sooner rather than closer to delivery (our plan is indeed to go back there for our son’s birth, although hopefully I can put in a request for a different room and a different nurse). So we’re moving forward, taking steps toward getting ready to welcome a living baby, and just generally being hopeful. After a long period of feeling like parenthood was slipping farther and farther away with each passing month, finally it feels like it might actually be getting closer and closer.