Here’s what I’d like to see from the plethora of pregnancy and parenting information, in addition to the weekly updates on the size of your fetus: this week a plum! next week your little cabbage will sprout hair and kick your bladder non-stop!, but also the real, hard and sometimes ugly truths about what happens to you, and your relationship with your spouse during those long months of gestation and the first year of your child’s life.
Week 5 of pregnancy: You just learned your pregnant because you feel like you’d been hungover for a week and you’d only had two glasses of wine with dinner. You’re excited! You’re terrified. You do not realize that from this moment forward, ever since the positive pregnancy test, you will be gripped in terror and anxiety. Joy and elation will factor in there too, somewhere, of course, but between the waves of nausea, you’re mostly going want to bury your head under the covers and wonder what is going on in your body.
Week 10 of pregnancy: you’re sitting in your car. In the garage. You’re sitting in your car in the garage because the man you think is your loving husband is cooking salmon for dinner and this is the only place, since it’s freakin’ winter outside, you can escape the stench. He claims he opened a window and the has the exhaust van on high but he doesn’t realize how insidious the smell of oily fried fish carcass is. Go ahead, sir, eat your fish, you say, while you nibble on Saltines and sob into the steering wheel.
Week 27 of pregnancy: Husband told you that when you plodded home from work, your feet the size of balloons, that dinner would be ready. Dinner will be ready at 7:30. You’re exhausted, and sweaty, and your underwear really no longer fits. Nothing fits. You’re starving. So hungry. Famished. So hungry you could *almost* eat salmon. You enter through the garage, and you note the lack of dinner smell emanating from the house. Husband greets you at the door, and he’s wearing his jogging clothes, looking fit and healthy and strong. Dinner is not ready. He went for a longer run than normal. Sorry! You absolutely lose your mind. You cry so hard, cry like the dog died tears. You stomp and pout and slam doors. Doesn’t he realize how hungry you are? Husband stares and seriously considers putting his running shoes back on and going for a run that will last for years.
Week 37 of pregnancy: While you continue to grow and expand and visit the Dairy Queen drive through for your daily intake of
calcium ice cream, your super fit husband who hasn’t gained 45 50 pounds like you, runs a marathon. He is claiming he needs to do this before the baby comes. And he asks you not to go into labor until after the run. As if you have any sort of control. You can’t even control your bladder anymore. You have given up all forms of control, and really, this whole pregnancy deal is a great giant, and often mostly uncomfortable lesson in how little control you have over life.
Week 39 of pregnancy: you have a baby! A baby boy! It is nothing like you imagined. It is utterly nothing like you imagined. But somehow, in all of the weeks and months prior to this moment, in all the times of hysterics and tears, blissful joy when you feel those flutters and kicks, you actually do not utter one curse word during the 12 hours of labor. You, who use swear words like punctuation marks. You who have spat nasty things about your husband, do not yell or scream. Sure, you cry. Of course you cry. But you don’t even say damn. What’s happening to you?
Week 3 of Your Baby’s Life: you and your husband are in horror! You call the pediatrician’s office right away. Your son’s umbilical cord stump falls off and no one has prepared you for this: it’s gooey and slightly bloody. Something is very wrong. You are both disgusted and, my god, you recently gave birth using a mirror and that was exponentially more startling than this. Your husband dials up Doctor Google while you’re on hold with the nurse at the pediatricians office. You both wonder if your doctor has a limit to how many times you, as newly terrified and woefully unprepared parents, can call. Perhaps you’ve already reached that limit.
Week 6 of Your Baby’s Life: Husband goes off to the gym for like 3 hours while you’re in a fog of deep, deep exhaustion. This begins the barter system, this begins the keeping track of who does what, and soon you’ll be trading solo trips to the grocery store for diaper changes. You know you’re supposed to be so happy! so so happy! about the new baby but this beautiful boy has ripped your life and your marriage wide open, exposing old grievances and highlighting how dang selfish you both are. What have you done?
Week 26 of Your Baby’s Life: At this point, you have no real clue how old 26 weeks is. Is it a wonder week? A wise week? Two months old? 6 months? Are you supposed to be keeping track? You measure your days in gummy smiles, explosive poop updates and how much 5 hours of sleep seems like a full, restful night. Together, you’re giddy. You’re slap happy together, and while those spats about who gets to go for a run without the baby or scrubs the toilet crop up every now and then, you’re starting to find purchase together.
Month 11 of Your Baby’s Life Because You Can’t Even Recall What Day It Is: Today, your husband worked 16 hours. Sometimes you forget this because when you’re home with baby all day you think that a grueling 16 hour brew day is like a mini vacation. And your husband thinks that rolling around in the grass with your almost year old son is a vacation. (Don’t tell him but it kinda is.) So, you bring your son to work, lucky you because work is a brewery, so you get to drink beer and your son gets to scream in delight when he sees his dad, soaked in his dirty Carthartts, through the glass windows separating production floor from tasting room. When your husband walks through the door, your son reaches for him and smiles bloom on both of their faces. Your son clings to your husband.
And, you think, we’ve almost made it to one year. We didn’t know what the
fuck heck to expect, and no one tells you that really your baby is fine, it’s you two who need to be raised, nurtured, and sometimes coddled, but somehow, you’re arriving at this milestone, together, as a family.