Today I’m 23 weeks, three days pregnant. I read a message board occasionally where a woman posted a picture of her little boy, now a toddler, born very prematurely at 23 weeks, two days.
“This is about what our baby looks like right now,” I said, showing Drew the picture. “Can you believe that’s in my belly?”
“What does it feel like?” He asked. “What does it feel like to have a little tiny human in your belly?”
“It feels heavy,” I replied, and put his hand on my stomach so he could feel the baby move around.
The baby’s been kicking so much lately and in the evenings, before we go to sleep, I lie in bed and we talk to him and feel him kick his response.
“Hey, Baby,” Drew says, “Are you going to have curly hair?”
Kick, kick, kick.
Drew tells him about our life — about our cats and our families and what we’re going to do when he’s born. We’re going to take him on picnics and to the botanic garden and the zoo and to parties with friends. We’re going to go on trips and fly on planes and go swimming and catch fireflies.
“We’re going to have so much fun, Baby, you’ll see.” He says.
I sing to him sometimes and he kicks his approval — at least, I pretend it’s his approval. He has certain songs and singers he seems to like more than others. He doesn’t care for guys who sound like sissies, like Bon Iver. But he likes lady singers like Adele and Feist and Nina Simone. His favorite is jazz. Drew and I went to a jazz club a few weeks back and he kicked up a storm. Now we’re thinking about naming him “Count.” Or maybe “Fats.” Fats Condell has a nice ring, don’t you think?
We’ve just started converting our office into a nursery. The finished product is still a long way off and we have our work cut out for us, but I don’t mind. I like this part of the preparations. It’s the other stuff that scares me — stuff like lining up daycare help a few mornings a week so I can keep up with this site and worrying about finding a pediatrician and who’s going to help my son with long division one day. I worry a lot about how I’m going to fare on no sleep and what caring for a baby 24 hours a day is going to do to my relationship, not to mention my friendships and the career I’m trying to build for myself.
I worry about these things a lot, but I wouldn’t say they keep me up at night. Actually, I’ve been sleeping really well lately. Part of that, I think, is the result of some new medication I’ve been taking. I was diagnosed with thyroid disease a couple weeks ago — Hashimoto’s — and I’ve been taking medication that has quickly helped relieve some of the symptoms I’ve been feeling for years, including insomnia. The funny thing is I probably wouldn’t have discovered I had the disease if I weren’t pregnant and getting my blood and thyroid levels tested so frequently. So, in a way, the baby has already benefited me. I remind myself of that when I start to worry about all these little things and about the sacrifices I’m going to make, about the sacrifices I’m already making (no mojitos for me this summer). The benefits are going to outweigh the drawbacks, I tell myself.
Mostly, I daydream about our days together — those early days when the three of us are all getting to know each other — when even Drew and I will be getting to know each other in different ways.
“You’re going to be such a good father,” I tell him. And I know this so deeply, like knowing the sun is going to rise and set tomorrow. I married Drew as much for the father I knew he’d make as for the husband I knew he’d be, and I imagine, when I see him step into that role, I will fall in love with him all over again. And it will be that new love that holds us together on the tough days when I haven’t slept and the baby’s crying and motherhood is unraveling me in ways I haven’t known before. At least, that’s my hope. And it’s a hope renewed every time I feel those kicks. What is it about baby kicks that make it feel like everything’s going to be all right?