At 25 weeks, you are a testing the limits and boundaries of your muscles and limbs, using my uterus as your means for resistance. Often, if I bend or twist a particular way, I get a jabbing and shooting pain in my belly that debilitates me for a few moments (many times this is when I have Kaia on my hip and am trying to do too many things at once). It must be you, trying to un-crunch yourself from the pinched position I’d gotten myself into. At times, you are so active and powerful that the Braxton-Hicks surges take over my belly, contracting it firmly. I have almost become nauseous at this intense combination of your kicks and the practice surges of my preparing uterus. While lying in bed one night, I focused on my inhalations and exhalations as if I were in labor, releasing into the overwhelming forces within me. I begged aloud “Baby, I love labor but I didn’t expect to recreate it this early. Pretty please slow down for a minute and let mama relax.” Eventually, you rested and so did I.
The Braxton-Hicks surges have been coming on for the two weeks or so and they suddenly send me way back into my memory of Kaia’s pregnancy. My clothes tighten at the waistline and I use those moments to connect with you, imagining the surge is a womb hug for you. But I am relieved when they retreat.
This past month was Girl Scout cookie month. That means I faltered on my healthy-ish eating habits for many days, indulging in freezer-cold Thin Mints (you are, indeed, nicknamed “The Mint”, so my indulgence couldn’t have been too unwarranted, eh?). I hope you enjoyed them. They are now all gone and out of the house, out of my mouth, out of my belly. Why must I always be pregnant during Girl Scout cookie time? It seems both terribly unjust and yet blissfully perfect to have such temptation within reach.
Mostly, I crave veggie wraps and French toast. After finding the most divine recipe for French toast, I now have been guilty of making it at 10pm at night, as well as this morning for our entire family. The veggie wraps are my own specialty, with the crispy crunch of spinach and “facon” (fake bacon) coupled with the delicious smoothness of Colby-jack cheese, tofurkey slices, and a strip of cream cheese to hold together the whole wheat tortilla. As of late, I’ve not been able to tolerate the texture and flavor of tomatoes and onions, so those are ruled out of my wraps…for now.
I admit I have been shocked at the rapid changes to my body. First, the weight gain. Now, the explosion of my thighs and calves and boobs and rear end over the course of a very short few weeks. And my belly has popped, already covering the view of Kaia’s birth door – my Cesarean scar. I swear, this seemed to have happened much more slowly and gently with Kaia’s pregnancy, or perhaps I was just enthralled with the changes at that time. Now, I sometimes stare down at my pale, dry, bare legs and honestly barely recognize them. I kick them and look at them from numerous angles and they do not seem to belong to me. I have cellulite again…like, mega-cellulite, right there on my upper thighs and the skin of my now bulging hips.
Just six months ago, I was thinner than I’ve ever been and weighed the same as I did in high school. But here’s the kicker: Even then, I didn’t recognize my body. I would run my hands over the tops of my lower legs and feel sharp bones that I never knew existed. I honestly believed they could break at any moment. I didn’t like how they felt. My collarbones popped from my shoulders, my face was thin, and my booty was flat and saggy. My boobs were practically non-existent, just flaps of skin who had served in an incredible, exhausting tour-of-breastfeeding duty for 17 months. And the cellulite on my thighs had disappeared. But still, my body felt oddly unfamiliar. And now, the pendulum swiftly shifts and I wonder when I will ever feel “at home” in my body again. It doesn’t consume me, but it intrigues me…I expect that I cannot predict what my body will look and feel like after my childbearing years are over. But I do know that it will have been the proud and loving home of babies, and because of that, I will strive to love it and cherish it for its goddess ways.
Life continues in our household at seemingly random speeds. Some days I can barely keep up with Kaia’s energy, my belly feeling heavy and my legs tired. I watch as she pulls out wipe after wipe and plays with them, too content in my spot on the floor or chair to move and put the wipes away. Other days, I am full of nesting energy, enough to tidy up the house and even retire to bed early. I request Your Daddy’s assistance quite a lot – sometimes gently asking and other times impatiently demanding it! When he remarks that he is tired from long day’s work, I have no patience for him and most likely end up ranting and raving about who knows what. This is in stark contrast to my fierce independence during Kaia’s pregnancy, in which I was doing home improvement projects galore and cleaning like a fiend. That life was a life minus a firecracker of a toddler (she did come the day after Independence Day after all). Your Daddy was going to school full-time then, and not working, so he was around an awful lot to help out. Now, I sometimes sink into a short funk because I just.can’t.do.it.all like I used to. And on those days, I exhibit the real gritty life of a pregnant women with a toddler – hair mussed, eyes tired, clothes wrinkled, fuse short, brain full and scattered, and entire energy utterly lax. I don’t look pretty, my clothes are unmatched and ill-fitting, I fumble on words and thoughts, I am ten times more forgetful than normal, and I almost kinda even waddle. And I don’t glow. Surrender to it, I must.
Thankfully, I seemed to have left a phase of anxious, highly-charged dreams behind recently. They were waking me numerous times at night with a pounding heart and night-sweats. I dreamed of dying, drowning, and barren landscapes. I was concerned about my blood pressure when I’d wake at night, my pulse racing. But since finding out about my job, and reveling in the knowledge that I’ll be a stay-at-home-mama soon, the crazy dreams have ceased. Now, they continue to be impeccably detailed and full of magical, mystical, fantasy places.
Two nights ago, I dreamed I was overlooking a chasm deeper than I can explain. In it flowed the most powerful river of molten fire. I stared at it, marveling at the massive churning sound and the ways the flames lapped and licked at the walls of the crevasse. Sometimes, the river would shoot up bits of smoldering steam, and I cowered to avoid their burn. The river roared, overpowering every sense in my dream. I remember thinking how I never knew something like this could exist. And while the river of fire was mighty and vigorous, I was awed by its beauty and force. It didn’t frighten me, but instilled a deeper sense of humility in my heart. It seemed alive.
Later, in the same dream, I was looking out of my childhood bedroom window at my Father’s house. The sun had just risen on a chilly winter day. I noticed a formidable tree that actually grew incredible grapes. There were a number of bunches, with grapes that were golf ball sized, perfectly round, and sparkled with a lavender translucence. I could see the inner workings of each magical grape, like peeking into a mortal womb. They were glistening from ice that had frozen them and was now slowly melting…dripping off of their perfect skins. The image remains imprinted in my mind, and in my dream I recall audibly gasping at the beauty of the glistening grapes, with the morning sun drenching the tree and reflecting off of the tiny icicles on the grapes… I told myself I needed to find a camera to take a picture. It was total illumination. And then I awoke.
I found it fascinating that in one dream I experienced intense fire and cool ice. In them, I seemed to be a visitor on a whimsical planet. What did it mean?
In another dream recently, your Daddy and I were traveling the switchbacks of a desert mountain in our Jeep. It was somewhere in Texas, and we kept talking about “Austin”. Slowly, we made our way to the top and upon reaching the summit, we were speechless and stunned: from high on the mountaintop, we gazed at the thousands upon thousands of acres of land in the valley below. Every inch of it had been razed to the dry dirt, rake lines and tire treads still visible. Not a living thing – plant or animal – resided on the brown, bleak, infertile landscape below. We looked at each other, tears in our eyes, and remarked that we couldn’t believe someone could do this to Mother Earth. We sat on that mountain in stillness, attempting to reconcile the remains of the landscape, feeling so small and unimportant compared to the forsaken mess below us.
When I awoke, my heart was racing again and I lay in bed, hand on my belly, to feel you – my baby.. You are always awake at night when I am. But this night, I felt nothing. I suddenly realized I hadn’t really felt you move since earlier the previous afternoon and I started to worry. For the next 20 minutes, I poked and prodded and pushed and breathed to try and get you to move. Nothing. I thought about the dream and wondered: had the barren landscaped somehow reflected barrenness inside of me? Were you okay? Unable to rest easy, I got up and headed to the kitchen, where I downed some milk and ate a few cookies in an attempt to get you to move, even if every so slightly. I sat at the computer for awhile and tried to distract my mind. Finally, I decided the only thing I could do was rest some more and try to sleep. I lay in bed, closed my eyes, focused on my third eye and began to meditate for you. I sent you soft golden light and white protective light and told you I loved you so very much. I envisioned my breath encasing your every cell, keeping you nice and warm and bathing you in peace. I gently begged you to move. After about 15 minutes, you relented and punched me a few times. Smiling, I drifted to sleep. Needless to say, you were back to your old routine the next morning and all is well. Please don’t scare me again? If you do, I’ll try hard to trust your wisdom and allow you to rest for awhile.
I’ve already reserved the birthing tub for our birthing journey and have continued to visualize your birth as I wander through my house. I think “Oh, these kitchen countertops would be perfect to lean on during labor”, or proclaim to your Daddy, “I need to get a small stool for the shower in case I’d like to sit in there during labor”, or “I wonder where we should set up the birth tub?”. I lust for the way I will move and rock and surge and moan and turn and lean and relent during the process. I strongly sense that your birth need be quiet, dark, sacred, private, intimate, protected, and powerful… This is hard for me, as I also feel strongly about wanting the presence of some very wise, loving, fairy-like women at my birth, whose eyes can observe it all even while closed. In time, I will know what is right for both of us.
In the meantime, I love the way you feel in my womb – ripe and knowing – and the way I carry you proudly. With every pulse of my heart, my blood nourishes and provides for you and we cycle through it together, connected, as one. Thank you for offering of yourself so wholly. Your gift – your light – grows more radiant with each passing day.