A Change Is Gonna Come, A Change Is Already Here
You could set a clock by my body. I used to wake up automatically at a certain time and feel hunger at the appointed hours; certain, fixed quantities of food was sure to satiate that hunger. My body was, by and large, not prone to the different plebeian urges like chips and fast food before. It managed to digest and burn off most of what I put in. The pains were identifiable and easy to categorize: “haven’t exercised in a while,” or “have overdone the exercise.” For the most part I knew how to handle it.
Now, I am a mess.
When my aunt told me to “enjoy the pregnancy,” I was already in the throes of the existential crisis called “what the f#$% have I got myself into?” The feeling of hunger is like the machines in The Matrix; they have taken over my body and have a life of their own. I can’t predict them, I can’t control them, and apparently, I can’t satiate them. I am never sure if the machines are going to be happy with what I put in my body. Sometimes, they reject my offering instantaneously. Sometimes, they lull me into complacency … and then reject it suddenly. Most of the time, they keep me guessing. I am barely functional — suddenly overwhelmingly sleepy, suddenly overwhelmingly tired, and funnily awake at the oddest of hours. As I write, my family of a husband and two dogs sleep blissfully, and I am counting the minutes to when I can officially wake him up and send him to make coffee.
I am not a child person; I am a dog person. I coo over puppies, I gush over dog videos and photos, I rush over to pet the friendly ones and try to make friends with the indifferent ones. I have two dogs, one, a year-and-a-half old puppy and the other, a 7-year-old who still thinks he is a puppy. I am largely indifferent to babies and I am terrified of young children. Yet, it seemed like a good idea at that time.
It wasn’t an epiphany or a bolt of lightning. There was no ‘now or never’ kind of urgency. We had a full house, a happy, loud, and messy one. We could go on, or we could add to it. Maybe this is what readiness feels like — a vision of the future and what it would take to build a family, one messy baby at a time.
The news has sunk in, and I am sinking with it.
I was 33 years old and in the middle of a career change. We had taken in a rescue pup and were busy mediating the conflict between her and my older dog. And as if that wasn’t enough change already, my husband and I started a food venture on the side, almost on a whim. Life was packed, and we were rolling with the punches like pros. The thought of adding to this mess, to the menagerie of my household, just seemed like it would be fun. Sure, life would get even busier, but we could handle it.
The blithe confidence!
That was then. Now, I am a hotbed of anxiety. Worries about how much worse the physical discomfort is going to get mingle with irrational anxiety about how every ache or pain could be a sign of something not right, all topped with incessant thoughts about how changed my life, next year same time, is likely to be. If that is not enough, the avalanche of misinformed “don’ts” and equally random “dos” — from medical practitioners, from laypersons, from every person — is overwhelming. The stories of new mothers, their litany of complications, the nightmare of delivery, the horrors of school admissions and the torment of playgroups, doesn’t ease the stress. People ask me if the news has sunk in. I smile and say something inane, but the fact is the news has sunk in, and I am sinking with it.
It gets better, I am told. The pall lifts, and things look up again. The blob in the ultrasound will begin to look like a baby, a baby that will soon start to kick, push, and bounce in my ever-growing belly. I will be treated like a queen, offered food and a place to sit wherever I go. Naps in the afternoon will be perfectly acceptable. I can throw tantrums and chalk it up to hormones. And oh, welcome back, carbs, how I missed you!
It is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because we are inching toward the happy vision we both had, and terrifying because of the 100 things that could go wrong before it comes to pass. There are six months to go, and so much to be done. The closets have to be cleaned to make room for clothes that fit, the house must be cleared to make room for the new addition, life has to be opened up for changes that await us.
There is a nice feeling I have every once in a while. We take our dogs down, we take them off leash and let them run around in the garden. They run, dig, chase each other, fight, roll on the grass and finally settle down at our feet. Now, I see a dirty little toddler trying to catch up with them, rolling around with them and finally collapsing along side them. It is a perfect picture. I want to think it is real. It is a good feeling, and it is this feeling that pushes me forward into the unknown.