At 39 weeks I am 50% effaced, 3 cm dilated, and up a whopping 78 pounds since Easter. The BabyPlus, on its penultimate rhythm setting (I must have failed to advance a week at some point), resembles a horse’s gait: ba-DUM-pa ba-DUM-pa ba-DUM-pa ba-DUM-pa. My OB estimates that the kid will exceed eight pounds when she does make her debut, but despite all of the aforementioned physiological indications, we have no idea when that might be. Helpfully, the good doctor plans to be out of town on vacation for the entirety of this upcoming week.
My mother arrives tomorrow, and so might the Mayan apocalypse, if you believe in such things. My docket is more or less sorted; there’s a settlement I really ought to have pushed through last week, but everything else seems to be more or less in a position to hand off to somebody else without screwing them too hard. I even cleaned off my desk today, something which has not happened in weeks — out of character for someone like me who prefers a tidy office. Things are coming to an end here. Maternity leave approaches. I’m going to have another baby.
In a strange karmic inversion, my salted-caramel cheesecake won the holiday party bake-off, another achievement I assumed was forever beyond my reach. (My improvisational baking tends to involve unconventional flavor combinations, which never appeal to the traditional palates of the bake-off judges. Until now, I guess.) Outside my office door hangs a large calendar, on which officemates have scrawled various guesses at arrival dates and weights for my daughter-to-be; these guesses started last Sunday and have been wrong so far.
But I have an inkling that this kid is going to come sooner than her sister did. I’ve had innocuous contractions for weeks now. I measured at 40 weeks today, a whole week ahead of schedule, and I can feel the kid headbutting something hard and nervy (ow, stop, OWWW) that is probably my cervix. I never did get the pelvic-grind paralysis that afflicted me last time, but moving around is definitely getting more difficult, not to mention exhausting. My due date is one week from today. She could totally hold out that long. Or we could pop at any moment.
And suddenly I’m going to miss this pregnancy. I would not want to relive my second trimester, but the third has been terrific — no pregnancy complaints at all. In a way it almost helped that I spent so much of it groaning beneath the burden of the Worst Cold I’ve Ever Had (now thankfully beaten back with azithromycin and codeine-laced cough syrup, thank you dear Jaybus and my OB). The pregnancy itself was a cakewalk compared to being sick. And now that I’ve made it through to the tail end of both, the pregnancy part is pure peeled glory. I am so huge and lumbering and spherical, I’ve reached the appreciative-glances-from-strangers phase. People tell me how good I look. People express amused surprise that I’m still around, high and dry, in one piece. My daughter languidly stretches out and rolls over in her sleep, the vast globular surface of my abdomen undulates as she does, and I feel fecund and goddesslike and beautiful in a way that will likely never recur.
At the same time, I’m excited to have this baby. To the best of my recollection, the space currently filled by this excitement was, in Natalie’s analogous time, aquiver with nerves and fear of the unknown. I suppose there’s just as much unknown about to hit us — how does one have TWO children? what if this baby doesn’t sleep all the time like Natalie did and we wind up sleep-deprived and lose our minds? — but I’m not afraid of labor, I’m not afraid of childbirth, I’m not afraid of losing my pristine childless life to the meat grinder of motherhood. That’s done already. I’ve already become somebody’s mommy. And it doesn’t suck! And I’m comfortable and at peace with the thought of doing it again! Who’da thunk?
Maybe that’s what I’m savoring most of all: the ironic unlikelihood of this situation, of me (of all people) being pregnant (!) for the second time (!!) at age 37. All of this is thoroughly implausible, and yet, here we are. It’s only a half-joke when I wonder if I’ll go into labor at the office and progress so quickly that I barely make it to the hospital before the child emerges. I’ve been reading up on emergency unassisted childbirth, in case I do drop this one in the taxi. If this can happen — if I can get to this place, where I am, right now — then anything can happen, and really, how freakin’ cool is that?
So I’ll be doing my utmost to suck the marrow out of these next seven days, the official home stretch of my last formally-requested pregnancy. I have been scrupulously avoiding licorice, curry, and anything else that might send me into labor on or before Christmas (which would be the most ironic birthday of all — don’t listen, kid, la la la la!). But I do have the evening primrose oil capsules in the pantry and the acupuncturist on call, and I do have faith that this child will come exploding into the world at least as breathlessly as her sister did, sometime in the ridiculously imminent future. In the meantime, though, all that’s left to do is bask.