My post is a little late this week because I have struggled with how to write the truth of the last two weeks, which is that I have felt detached from my pregnancy. I’m still not showing, my symptoms are gone, and my brain isn’t occupied by the insistent thought “I’m pregnant!” every five seconds. In short, it’s been easy to forget about the kid growing inside me. Or at least, it’s easy to forget until someone asks how I’m feeling (FINE!), what I’m craving (NOTHING!), and if I and/or Carson and/or our parents are excited. That last one has actually been the hardest, because while I am OF COURSE excited, I feel like I have to fake my current level of enthusiasm to meet the expectations of the askers. Pregnancy is long, and it would be exhausting to be excited every moment of every day. Plus, see aforementioned detachment. I don’t feel guilty about it – I think I’m just enjoying my last few normal body weeks – but I have yet to bring myself to answer the question “Are you excited?” with “Honestly I’m a bit indifferent at this point.”
I will say I was flooded with love and enthusiasm at my last prenatal appointment when my midwife found Mae’s heartbeat with the Doppler. She had just finished saying that at this stage they can still be “hiding” so we might not hear it, and there it was: a strong, steady 150 beats per minute. I almost cried but instead I burst out laughing, totally overwhelmed by what I was hearing. That’s my girl!
This week I’m watching my friend’s seven-year-old – I’ll call him J – while she’s at an out-of-state training. I lived with them while she was pregnant and during several years of his young life, so it’s not a stretch to say I occupy second-mom status. Still, it’s the longest time we’ve been left alone (Carson’s at the fire station), and it’s definitely illuminating my parenting style. As a kid I can’t say I agreed with everything my parents did, but as an adult I can see myself emulating them. They raised four kids and we’re all doing pretty great, so they clearly were on to something. I’ll explore my feelings and expectations about becoming a parent in a later post.
Today, I want to share what happened last night. J’s room is right next door and I left both of our doors open. My eyes shot open at 4 am to the sound of a persistent cough. I got up and, without turning on any lights so as not to wake either of us up further, I got a cough drop and a glass of water for him. “Honey?” I said softly. “Yeah.” “Do you want some water?” “Yeah.” He slowly sat up and drank the whole glass. Cough. “Do you want a cough drop?” “Yeah.” He put it in his mouth and immediately laid back down. “Turn on your side,” I said. No response. “Hey, turn on your side.” “Why?” “I don’t want you to choke.” “Ok.” After making sure he turned, I went back to bed. And then immediately got back up. I stood in his door, listening. Apparently I wasn’t very quiet because J said, “I’m not choking.” “I know,” I lied. “I was just going to see if you want more water.” “Sure.” I filled up his glass and brought it back. “Sit up,” I said as I handed it to him. I was about to take the overprotection to the next level by telling him to take out the cough drop before drinking, but he did it without my asking. But then he finished his water, popped the drop back in his mouth, and laid back down on his back. “Dude, roll on your side,” I insisted. He did. I stood there, hesitating, before going back to bed. But what if he rolled back over and fell asleep and choked then? Surely I’d hear him struggling for breath (as I strained my ears). Was I confident in my Heimlich skills? I contemplated googling “seven year old choking likelihood” and also “is choking loud.” And then I realized that no cough drop is worth even the tiniest risk, so I went back to his room. “Hey, spit it out,” I said, holding out his empty water glass. “Why?” he asked, annoyed. “Because I don’t want you to fall asleep and choke.” “Oh.” He complied. “If I hear you coughing I’ll bring you some cough syrup.” “Ok.” “Are you going to be able to sleep?” “Yeah.” “Ok, sweet dreams.” Back to bed I went. Cough. I waited. Cough cough. Was cough syrup a bit extreme for a kid whose throat is simply adjusting to the dry California climate? He certainly didn’t need a painkiller. Would his mom approve of NyQuil? Fortunately I didn’t have to follow that train of thought further, because he stopped coughing and passed out (he’s always been a good sleeper). I reflected on the experience as I drifted back to sleep, and overall I felt good about it. 1) I woke up and was able to spring right into action. 2) Although I considered a lot of things, I never got crazy. 3) I was able to do everything without turning on a light. 4) I was able to fall back asleep relatively easily. Of course there was still a certain level of irrational thought associated with it, like when I checked to make sure he was breathing in the morning, but irrational thought is part of parenting, right??
I’ll end with what has been, far and away, the most inappropriate question I’ve been asked so far. A man I don’t know particularly well asked me, “So, how is your body changing?”
Photo: Me with baby J almost exactly seven years ago. Time flies!