One of the most common questions I hear as a prego is, “How are you feeling?” I genuinely appreciate every person who asks, (it’s certainly better than hearing “girl, you chunky”), but I lie to virtually every one of them. Not because I don’t want to be honest, but because the truth is quite a mouthful and we don’t have all bloody day now do we. Right now, I don’t just feel one thing. I feel EVERYTHING. And if I answered you honestly, I just might explode all over your life.
How am I feeling? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
First of all, I’m happy to be having another baby. I’m grateful to be a fertile Myrtle and that my husband is shooting some serious ammo from his skin pistol and that we will have a daughter and Max will have a sister and spare parts all that sweet miraculous jazz.
I’m truly amazed that there’s this person kicking and punching me from the inside and no matter how many millions of years that’s been happening on the planet, it’s still pretty darn freaky.
But I’m also dreadfully afraid to give birth again because – NEWSFLASH – it’s hurts like a motherfucker and there’s a very strong possibility that this time my insides will fall out altogether and someone will have to stuff them back inside me like crumbly meat into a pita. I’m annoyed that we put a man on the moon almost half a century ago but still haven’t found a way to make childbirth painless. Seriously people.
I’m pissed that I’m the one who has to endure all this primitive bullshit (isn’t it my husband’s turn, damn it?), and it’s frustrating that some people seem to be more irritated by my drama than sympathetic to the fact that I’M GROWING A FUCKING PERSON UP IN HERE. But I know I can’t make them understand, so I’m trapped in this bubble where swallowing my feelings is survival (and keeping me out of jail).
I’m baffled to infinity that so, SO many women go through this many times over without a single hesitation. Do they have vadges like slip ‘n slides? Are they just stronger than me? AM I A PUSSY??? Or are they scared shitless too and just faking it? I’m confused. And I’m more and more anxious as the moment of truth gets closer, because god knows what will happen, and there is no god so NOBODY KNOWS. This is a nine-month transaction with no guarantee. I know there’s a “kid” in here but it could be a baby goat for all I know. Let’s be honest, that figure on the ultrasound machine did not look fully human.
I’m also bored, because while I wait for this moment to come I can’t ride my new bike, I can’t have a martini, I can’t relax in a hot tub, I can’t buy nice clothes because I’m a house, I can’t sleep comfortably, I can’t walk far without wanting to die, I can’t even eat raw cookie dough – not that I’d want to, but if I did, I couldn’t, so there. I ordered a bunch of stuff online yesterday just so I can feel surprised when I come home to a new package on the front step, even if none of it is for me. It’s a crib mattress so the baby doesn’t have to sleep in a drawer, and a whip and satchel for Max so he can be Indiana Jones for Halloween and not just a kid in a fedora, and a snowsuit for him so he’ll be warm when the winter comes, because I’M THE ONE who thinks of all these goddamn things and I’M THE ONE who takes care of it all and nobody notices except that I’m being a crazy, list-making bitch. I’m overwhelmed thinking about all the things I still need to do and buy and get rid of and clean up before babytime, while working full-time and blogging and promoting my book and giving my vagina pep talks and cleaning up before my mother arrives and god knows what else.
I’m torn because my family always comes first, but I also have these ideas and opportunities and the iron is hot and I’m not getting any younger and THIS IS MY TIME, BITCH. I’m riddled with guilt just typing that, because society and my upbringing and all that bullshit has programmed me to believe I’M A MOTHER NOW, so I’m supposed to sacrifice my own dreams for everyone else’s. But I’m determined to try my best to FUCK THAT NOISE and do it all, even if I don’t do any of it perfectly. I’d rather live with failure than regret.
I’m shocked and excited that my little boy is off to kindergarten. I’m sad that my dad is not here to see it. I’m nervous that I haven’t bought him the right school supplies or prepared him enough or that he’ll get made fun of and I won’t be there to kick some tiny ass to defend his honour. I’m terrified I’ll get a colicky baby and turn into a sleep-deprived monster and flip out at Max’s first request for a snack and he’ll hate me forever. I’m worried I’ll miss his first goal because I’ve become Zombie Mom at home while Rad Dad gets to be the hero out there in the big wide world. I’m already feeling shitty that he can’t swim yet because we haven’t been diligent enough with swimming lessons and now he’s totally going to drown in a teaspoon of water because I failed him miserably.
I feel weak because I’m rotund and slow and, truth be told, I could use one of those rails installed in the bathtub and by the toilet and by the bed. THIS IS NOT HOW I AM.
I feel strong because I know there’s this dragon I have to fight at the end and I’m not turning back. Even if I could, I wouldn’t.
I’m thrilled. I’m petrified. I’m lucky. I’m alone. I’m full of piss and vinegar and love.
So, to keep it simple when someone asks how I’m feeling, I just tell them about this pain in my ass. That’s not a metaphor for all of the above. I genuinely have pain in my left butt cheek because the joints and ligaments around my pelvis are getting ready to thrust out a human skull. Believe it or not, this answer is much, much easier for everyone.