No photo today since Carl went straight from work to do a wedding video taking—as one might surmise—the camera with him. And while I could technically take a snap on my iPod, I’m totally not going to do it. My iPod is great for a lot of things, but taking pictures is not one of them.
Instead shall jot down a few of the stray bits of things about Little Man that I keep meaning to write down somewhere so I don’t forget for his baby book or because there are interested grands, aunties, and uncles passing through here or even maybe because it might help jog my memory should I ever need to write about pregnancy someday.
Also because I spent most of the late afternoon counting contractions and trying to decide if was getting to that sketchy point (every fifteen minutes or 4 an hour) where I should go in and get checked out. Random early contractions are completely normal I know, but one doesn’t mess around at 26 weeks. I’m still having them, to be honest, but they’re not the stop-moving-and-squint-thoughtfully-into-space kind anymore. Just a phantom tightening across my abdomen that comes and goes patternlessly, like stray breezes on the surface of a lake.
I know people say that every woman and every pregnancy is different, but these two of mine have been pretty much the same. I feel exhausted and intensely nauseous from about weeks 6-14, when the nausea tapers down to just one or two hours a day. By week 20 I finally have some energy again and start planning absurdly ambitious projects… like renovating a house or writing a novel. As the nausea goes away, the physical stuff gradually picks up steam. One day I absent-mindedly cross my leg at the knee and spent the rest of the week aching because overnight my ligaments have started to loosen and to compensate I have to sit and move like a 70-year-old. My center of gravity has shifted. I can feel the sudden weight of his pound and a half body catch when I stand up too suddenly, and speaking of standing up: I’m dizzy now and then, and my blood pressure is sluggish. I gained about a pound a week with Iris, and at 26 weeks I’m about 26 pounds up this time too, so there goes that theory about eating better this time around (although: breakthrough: despite all the carbs I will crave in the first trimester, I learn my second time around NOT TO FALL FOR ANY OF IT. Carbs—and especially sugar—make everything ten times worse. Eat cheese and live. Drink ginger ale and die. I still felt sick for 12 weeks solid, but I didn’t throw up once. Why does no one tell you these things?).
From the outside—or whatever side the enveloping human is in this arrangement—he feels exactly like his sister. Because his placenta is attached in the back I was able to feel movement a few weeks earlier, but now that we’re in the mid-twenties they feel the same. Lots of kicks and rolls and punches. An elbow jutting out. A butt sticking to one side, making my belly lopsided even with a shirt on. Regular hiccups. The creepiest feeling of all is when they run their hands or feet along the smooth wall of the uterus. Imagine a ghost brushing your spine. It’s just weird.
He gets irritated by tight waistbands and kicks at the books I carelessly rest on my belly while reading in bed. When I rock Iris to sleep at night, she curls around my abdomen, one sleep-hot hand rubbing it while the pacifier bobs up and down in her mouth. He kicks her too.
The differences that do exist are mostly in me. I worry less and rarely stop to count the days or weeks anymore. The first trimester was harder with Iris running around and still waking up 2-3 times every night, but everything else has been easier. Life is busy. I worry sometimes about how we’ll handle having two kids and the general logistics of things like naps and bedtime, but mostly I just shrug and move on. I’m pretty sure it will be hard enough without borrowing trouble. My feeling now is that if it doesn’t make me happy, I don’t have time for it. So I write when the house is quiet, and when I wake up at night to feel him exploring his tiny world I say hello and tell him I love him, and that’s a good enough place to be.
We named Iris on the way home from our 20 week anatomy scan, but we haven’t named Little Man yet. This could be a second child phenomenon, but I feel like it’s harder with boys too. A pressure I didn’t expect. I’m beginning to wonder if—though taken less seriously in most ways (and I can’t even tell you how insane it makes me when people greet Iris by saying “hey, pretty girl” in singsong)—girls also have a strange, backhanded kind of freedom too. She wears jeans and khakis and every color in the rainbow. Her diapers have Elmo and blue and green bubbles on them. Her toys are anything and everything and definitely any color combination. (And it’s true strangers still assume she’s a boy, but when they realize their mistake they apologize and are embarrassed. Nobody questions Iris’s right to wear khakis). Our only trouble with girl names was cutting down the list. I could find dozens of names I liked.
Boy names are harder. Somehow independence and creativity feel like a liability rather than an asset. The life scripts for girl are trivialized in irritating ways, it’s true, but there’s also something unpleasant in the realization that your baby boy’s name can’t be too gender neutral because eventually all gender neutral names become girl names, and it can’t be too out there because people won’t take him seriously, and it can’t be shortened into annoying nicknames or a euphemism for penis, however far removed (and, wow, why are there so many euphemisms for penis?). Baby boys must wear primary colors and have puppies appliquéd onto all their clothes and be named something safe and strong. The grab bag of expectations is sad to me somehow.
Also I’ve noticed people are far more straightforward about suggesting names for our boy. People were politely curious about Iris’s name, but suddenly we have relatives nominating things and then addressing my belly as said name. Um, no. Pretty sure it doesn’t work like that.
That’s where we are in this 26th week. I can’t believe we’re down to the last 3 months. Judging by how fast the last six weeks have gone, he’s going to be here before we know it. For a split second, I’ll feel sad that I may never be pregnant again, that the single-child stage is almost over, that life is moving so fast. But then I think about that crazy, unfathomable moment when a new, wriggling, incredibly living person is put into your arms, and I can’t help but be excited to get on with this thing.
After 37 weeks, anyway.