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When you’re eight-months pregnant, it’s hard to think about anything but the baby. What is she doing to your body? Is she OK? How are you going to get her out?
Life becomes a series of familiar, daily symptoms: a little nausea in the morning, heartburn the rest of the day; shortness of breath if you do something crazy like stand up from sitting in a chair; extreme, alternating hunger and drowsiness; bionic abilities to fold and re-fold onesies and sleep sacks without ever getting bored.
It becomes constant belly-monitoring: Is the baby moving around as much as she was yesterday?
Is she head-down? Is she sunny-side-up (her arms and legs facing up toward my navel – a position she can’t be delivered in)?
Is she hiccuping? Is she uncomfortable because you’re lying on your right side? What are you thinking, lying on your right side?
Is your shirt long enough to cover your huge belly? No, it’s not. It’s never long enough.
And, more and more as you get closer to delivery, life becomes what you do between prenatal check-ups, which mainly involves keeping track of questions you want to ask at prenatal check-ups. What does a contraction feel like? When do you call the doctor?
When do you leave for the hospital? What do you bring? What do you eat? What do you wear?
Luckily, my husband and I have a great doctor. We like her.
“Why are my thighs all red?” I asked her at our appointment Monday.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Should I worry about it?”
“What should I worry about?”
“Nothing. Just go on a few dates with your husband.”
Later, in the car, my husband suggested that perhaps patients take on the attitudes of their doctors, the same way dogs take on the attitudes of their owners.
I think he’s right. I think, despite all my anxieties, I’m handling this whole incubation phase pretty well.
The only time I really worried was when my doctor was worried, too – several months ago when I had to go to the ER for an emergency ultrasound.
In that instance, we had a legitimate concern and our doctor took it seriously.
She also took it seriously when I failed the one-hour glucose-tolerance test – ordering me to take a follow-up, three-hour test, which I passed – and when my platelet count was slightly low.
But red, blotchy legs? We all have better things to think about.
And so, immediately after our check-up, my husband took me out to The Melting Pot.
This is the perfect place to bring a pregnant woman. Pregnant women love anything that includes a “cheese course.” We love any situation that encourages us to eat for two straight hours. We love dipping brownies in chocolate.
We love dipping said brownies while wearing maternity clothes with massive, roomy “waist” bands. We mock those of you in belts.
Michael didn’t take me out for dinner just because our doctor said to.
Technically, it was my birthday, and with that occasion in mind he had planned and reserved and even worn shiny shoes. He is a wonderful husband.
It was easily my best birthday ever. It was the only birthday I’ve ever celebrated while pregnant. The first birthday on which I’ve listened to our baby’s heartbeat. The first birthday on which our baby moved in some way that, according to Michael, created the impression my belly button was pointing at him.
The first birthday on which I blew out my candle with only one clear wish in mind.
Heartburn be damned. I’m so blessed to have a husband to feast with and a baby to feast for – and a doctor I trust to help us make my birthday wish come true.
E-mail Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.