You know, I was quite sure I loved being pregnant. And in some ways, I still do. All that extra blood in my system and fat in my skin makes me rosy-cheeked and less wrinkly. My nails and hair grow and grow, and they shine with health. My eyes are sparkly, my teeth look whiter and my bust line goes from a modest B-cup to a beautifully voluptuous D. Physically, pregnancy suits me.
But, whilst I'm all glowy and smug on the outside, the inside of my head is a mess. Last night, I picked up my Bio-Oil, unscrewed the lid, tipped the bottle and then realised it wasn't toothpaste. On Monday, in a fit of domestic goddess-ness, I rustled up a batch of Jumbo Oat Crisps. Sans oats. Last week, I drove 22 kilometres to my husband's office to deliver a hard drive he had left at home only to discover that I, too, had left it on the bookcase near the front door. So, when people ask me if I'm ready for this baby to arrive, I have to fight really hard to keep a twinge of hysteria out of my voice.
It's not that I think we won't be able to make it work. I'm good at crisis management. We'll adjust to the big stuff. It's that I'm not sure if we're going to get home with this baby and discover that I've imagined the stockpile of nappies in the spare room cupboard. Or that I'll have forgotten some basic skill, like how and when to wind a baby. Or how to dress them without letting their heads flop around too much. I'm quite certain I remember putting on three different babygrows in one sitting with Ezra, because he would pee on one as I got his nappy off and then vomit on the next one as I got it over his head. I don't know if I've got enough dinky-sized outfits for that kind of body fluid output. I don't know how much of our tiny newborn stuff I gave away. And if this baby turns out to be a girl, well, she's in for a few blue outfits until I can restock. Ugh. I went shopping with Ezra on the way home from hospital, I can do it again, right? (Just nod and smile and tell me lies, please)
My mom-in-law gave me the follow-up to the book I found so helpful in the early days of getting to know Ezra. This one focuses on how to introduce a sibling, how to coincide their routines so each child gets a fair share of Mom, and obviously how to ensure that each child gets fed, washed and cared for adequately. All this, while also not allowing the mother to die of sleep deprivation, starvation or poor personal hygiene. Hopefully. I read through the first few chapters a while ago and remember thinking it was all solid advice. Things like teaching your older child to dress themselves, so you can simply supervise them while feeding the new baby. Or purchasing cards and gifts for birthdays / weddings etc that will occur in the first month or two of your baby's life, so you don't have to brave the mall if you don't feel ready. Maybe having a few of your toddler's favourite meals made up and frozen, so he'll always be catered for, even if your guests (and husband) won't necessarily be. Sounds great, doesn't it? Positive. Doable. Idyllic, even. A lovely, soft-focused picture of how gentle this transition could be.
Transition. A fairly innocuous word. Unless you've delivered a baby naturally. In which case you'll know it's the time when every ounce of self-doubt you possess comes screaming to the fore and all you want is to climb out of your own skin and go hide in a safe, dark place. Fek.
I'm not ready to run and hide yet, but I do feel nervous when so much of my common sense appears to have deserted me. Yesterday morning I decided it was time to shave off the winter growth on my legs. (You can judge me, I don't care) And since I despise sitting in a bath full of hair, I did as I normally do and climbed into the shower with my razor. I leant back against the cubicle wall, lifted and braced my left foot against the opposite wall and shaved my left leg. No drama. Business as usual. I was actually quite chuffed with myself. So I switched legs, and instantly got a cramp in my hip, which made my leg drop. Washed my face while waiting for the cramp to ease. Tried again. Cramp. Stretched a little, tried again, cramp. Tried leaning down, cramp. Bugger. So, I sat down, on the shower floor, and successfully and painlessly defuzzed my right leg. Very enterprising of you, Tammy. Here, have a pat on the back.
And then I tried to get myself (and my 34-weeks-pregnant belly) standing up again. Ugh. I am not going to tell you how may stupid things I tried, how many ways that slippery, glass-enclosed, square metre of torture made me hate it. Highlights include the hot water running out, me nearly pulling a tap off the wall and the final karate-chop that got the door open. I crawled out onto the bathmat and laughed like a loon. Once on my feet again, I wrapped a towel around my (unintentionally soaked) hair and leaned in to switch off the taps. Hmm? Switch off the taps? Yes, you read that right. Switch off the taps. Because at no point in the war of balance between me and my cerulean mosaic tiles had it occurred to me to stop the effing flow of water which was causing all the trouble. Now darlings, how the dickens am I to be trusted with a newborn? Huh? Huh? HUH?
Last weekend, a rare opportunity to sit and really talk to my husband arose. Ezra obligingly took himself off for a three hour nap, and Shane and I sat in our garden, remembering that we have more than our child(ren) and home-life in common. We actually like each other. We can make each other laugh. We can help each other find breathing space. I've been so wrapped up in how much I don't seem to be coping with, and in how much I'm solely responsible for, that I'd forgotten I have a partner to share all this with. I've been looking at him as another responsibility, another set of expectations to meet, another ten items on a never-ending to-do list. I don't know if that's how husbands and wives start to lose touch, but I'm glad he's out of the mental box I'd tucked him into. And everything, even my anxiety about the future, seems a little less weighty with his arm around my shoulders again.