Tuesday, April 3, 2012

37 weeks

Today I am full-term! Yay! It's incredible how preoccupied my brain is with thoughts of labor at this point. Many women begin labor several weeks or over a month before giving birth—it's just a slow, gradual process. Well, I am definitely one of those women. I notice every little shift in my body and it's definitely gearing up for the big show, which is exciting as heck, but also a bit nerve-wracking.

I had another false alarm this weekend at Whole Foods and ended up buying half the store out of fear that we wouldn't make it to the grocery store for weeks if I gave birth that afternoon. Stockpiling and collecting goods seems to be a huge pattern right now regardless. I envision myself building piles of acorns or twigs for my nest all the time because it feels that instinctual, except my pile is less practical (think 4 extra bottles of dish soap and enough string cheese to last until August). At any rate, the grocery store felt like the perfect place to go into labor because at least I'd know we were all stocked up. It also provided a way to time my contractions without a watch. 

"When was the last one, dear?"

"In the spaghetti aisle."

"And how long did it last?"

"From the time I found that expensive sauce on sale until I made my way to the yogurt section."

But, after an hour of semi-painful contractions the show stopped. I'm still pregnant. But, not for long! That's the part that's really got my attention, because I am in complete shock about it (and constantly assessing my body for signs of labor). Alex is out of his mind trying to come to grips with the reality of me going into labor too, so things are pretty interesting in our house right now. 

This tank top speaks the truth. At the
moment I have 2 shirts that actually
fit and cover my belly
(clearly, this isn't one of them).

There is nothing like the experience of becoming parents, especially the first time. And I find myself so nostalgic during this last stretch of pregnancy. I've been thinking back over the many stages I've gone through—the roller coaster ride of trying to conceive, the first signs that we may have been successful, the day we found out we were pregnant, the (very) small window of time where I looked and felt normal, the months I refused to believe it was true, seeing our baby chipmunk/alien on an ultrasound the first time, hearing the heartbeat, the months of agonizing nausea and complete disgust with all food and all smells, those first kicks from the tiniest, most gentle little baby feet, seeing arms and legs appear underneath my skin, falling in love with my daughter and having her all to myself in the most intimate way that only I will ever be able to experience.

It's interesting to watch my hormones shift to this gooey, nostalgic, lovey-dovey place. Mother nature is surely preparing me to bond with my spawn, and I'm not the only one. There was a point several weeks ago when I felt a profound shift inside my body, as if I could somehow physically and emotionally feel the focus become preparing for labor and birth rather than the focus being all about growing the baby. And it was at this exact point that I noticed a profound shift in Alex as well. He is insane about finishing house projects and making our house "cozy" (something that he never seemed to care about before). His talks with the baby have grown longer, and I find him sitting in the rocking chair in the nursery by himself, gazing at all the baby gear in an attempt to understand how real this all is. And his protectiveness….woah. I feel like I have a bodyguard when I go out in public with him. 

As uncomfortable as it is to suddenly be the size of a house and less agile than a turtle who got stuck in his shell, I am actually quite fond of the end of pregnancy. I feel stronger, more confident, excited (and nervous), closer than ever to my husband, and my body feels like a sacred, beautiful gift. And the amazing thing is that I know all of those feelings will grow exponentially when I have conquered the greatest challenge of my life: childbirth. 

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