Posted by: emjb | July 1, 2005

Just Past the Halfway Mark

My khaki maternity pants are a bit loose, but they stay on my hips when I go down the stairs. A few weeks ago they fell off of me if I didn’t double up some of the soft elastic waistband and safety pin it together. About 2 weeks ago things began to move forward, unmistakably. The birthmark right beneath my ribs that looks like a long narrow scar doesn’t run vertically anymore, but curves out at a 45 degree angle, following my belly’s new line. I’ve never been flat-stomached, but this is different, a smooth hard curve that I’m not really used to yet. I’m still surprised to see it in the mirror.

This is the 23rd week, just past the halfway mark of this pregnancy. I walk and sit with back straight and my stomach stuck forward now, because to slump is to cramp all my internal organs, which have crowded together to make room for the new boarder. He’s growing, and I know he’s probably swimming and turning and dreaming to himself, in his little world. He hears my heartbeat all the time, and the rumbling of my guts, and maybe some of the outside world—traffic, subways thundering past, his daddy saying “hello” to him. Last week the kicks started in earnest. I was anxious to feel them, because none of the descriptions I read seemed to help me imagine it; “fluttering” “bubbling” etc. And when they came, they weren’t like that at all. More like when you get your heartrate up and put your finger against the pulse in your neck; you can feel it jumping, just under the skin. His kicks are like that, except erratic and wandering. He seems to prefer being head up, tilted to my right, and kicking me on the lower left belly at random intervals. It’s funny how soon you get used to it, and keep going about your business.

I can think of him as “him” but there’s still not a lot of emotion attached to that, because technically, we haven’t met yet. It’s strange, we’re as close physically as it is possible for two beings to be, but we’re strangers. To him I’m a safe place, a studio apartment with free food service; to me, he’s an unknown quantity, like a blind date. I won’t know how we’ll feel about each other till I see his face, and maybe not even right then.

I had been worrying about this a bit, my lack of pre-natal bonding, until I realized it was ridiculous. I probably don’t have some horrible genetic defect that will keep me from loving my baby. We just need to be properly introduced. Right now, I think about him as I would about a neighbor who I never see but who doesn’t cause me any trouble, though I sometimes hear his stereo playing.

In my life right now I’m surrounded by mostly younger and/or childless people, so I’m not getting the traditional bombardment of advice pregnant women are warned about. Or rather, I am, but it’s amusingly off-base. The other day my (male, gay) boss seemed to think I was stressed about the baby and was trying to reassure me that surely, he would be mellow and laid-back, since Matt and I are both so mellow. But as I shot back, that’s no guarantee. He might be a hyper little hellfire. He might be irritated by our mellowness and enjoy riling us up. “Maybe he’ll be one of those babies who never cries,” interjected my coworker. (This is the same girl who occasionally bursts out that gosh, it must be so weird to have this—thing–growing inside you! Like an alien! In fact it kind of freaks her out to think about it! She tells me all this wide-eyed, not cognizant that this may not be the most sensitive thing to say to a pregnant lady). Well, as far as never crying goes, while she’s done some babysitting, I don’t think she’s ever dealt with a colicky newborn with explosive diarrhea at 3 am, so whatever honey. Don’t blow sunshine up my ass. He’s gonna cry sometimes, more than I want him too, definitely. That’s part of the package.

And the thing is, it’s not like I’m worrying about those 3ams right now, because there’s no point. I accept that they’re likely, and I’ll deal with them when they show up. Why ruin this time worrying about that one?

If I sound serene and zenlike, don’t be fooled. I still avoid gory or violent things because they give me nightmares. I still cry easily at sad songs, meaning Aimee Mann hasn’t been on my playlist for a while. My emotions have the same heightened edge as with PMS, and I move quickly from sadness to laughter to rage. I feel radicalized, ready to storm the barricades when I see things that make me angry, writing snippy posts on forums and leaving caustic comments on blogs, not cushioning my words in as much niceness as usual. The foofaraw over Barbara Walters and her idiotic comments about breastfeeding (basically “it’s icky and I don’t want to see it, ew!”) had me going for days, wishing I was already lactating so I could join the nurse-in outside her studio.

My hatred of George Bush and his administration could not really get any deeper, but having to deal with the issues of health care and soon, maternity leave, hasn’t improved my mood at all. In a perfect world he and his buddies would be reincarnated as illegal immigrants with 3 children and no language skills, cleaning toilets for less than minimum wage. I have a crush on Democrat Harry Reid right now, for backing up his earlier statement that Bush is a liar and refusing to retract it. Now we need about 100 more of him, and maybe a media that could find its spine, too.

That’s what I would wish for this baby, a world with more truth tellers in it, but not much is likely to have changed by the time he shows up. But I knew that going in; I knew that I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a better world to have him. He will have to live in it, neocons, Guantanamos, and all. I hope it won’t all be too much for him, that things will be improving by the time he’s old enough to notice.



  1. came across your site through the darn-tootin site –
    Best of luck in your pregnancy!
    Are you having the baby at Coney Island Hospital?
    I am from Queens, move to Long Island, and now live in Maryland – I still travel the, ugh, Belt Parkway to visit my family – and when we do – my boys – (I have 2 – one in 6, the other is 4,) love to see the Coney Island rides. Haven’t taken them there yet- my rural NJ husband is a bit fearful of NY in general.
    Anyway – I really get what you say about : “But I knew that going in; I knew that I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a better world to have him”
    As I held my 2 month old baby as the towers fell on 9-11, and hoped that my firefighter uncle was OK ( he was ) – I was thinking – what the f— world is this for them?
    No answers to that yet, I am afraid – just do my best to raise good boys who will turn out to be great men.

    happy 4th-

  2. Aw, thanks, met! I’m glad your uncle was Ok…

    We’re using Methodist in Brooklyn (Park Slope) area.

    Better take your kids to CI soon if they want to ride the rides, the area’s going to start getting mall-ized in the next few years. Tell your husband it’s not scary at all, just crowded. I bet once he gets into a go-kart, he’ll forget all about being worried!

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