(Belly) Bumps In The Road

The best day of my mom’s life was the Fourth of July in 2012. Every year Facebook pops up with the memory, and she shares it in the family group chat. “We sat at a little restaurant in Disney World,” she reminisces. She hadn’t made a reservation, and every other restaurant was full. Somehow, this little spot had a cancelation and they snuck us in. “We sat along the lake and watched Disney’s Fourth of July firework show.” she says “It was perfect”.

I always found that a bit funny. What about the day that you got engaged? Or married? What about the day you had your first baby? Or baby two, three, or four? But no, my mom’s best day was the Fourth of July 2012, sitting along the lake, watching the sky explode in color.

My best day was the day after I found out I was pregnant. I went for a run at night. The sun was setting, and Michael was at home finishing his work day. He had no idea I was pregnant. We had done it! The sunset was beautiful. It was just baby and I sitting on a bench overlooking the water. I placed my hands on my stomach and dreamed of what you would be like. A perfectly intimate moment in time. Just us. I loved you so much from day one.

We had our first doctor’s appointment at 11 weeks. I wore a short blue dress and a thin white gold necklace. Michael drove us to the office, and we held hands on the way up the elevator. The bell rang, and the doors opened on the ninth floor—we stepped out. I felt quite nervous the night before, and I had butterflies in my stomach getting ready that morning. But as I stepped into the office, I felt only excitement.

We were ushered into an office where I sat at the end of a big chair. Michael giggled at the diagrams of the female anatomy and read the pamphlets on cord donations and the hospital where I would be giving birth. Fifteen minutes later the doctor came in. He quickly briefed me on the plan for the day. “Five vials of blood,” he mentioned.

We argued. I didn’t want to get the blood test that would tell me if my baby was at high risk for having a chromosomal condition. The doctor disagreed and told me I didn’t have a choice. I was frustrated. Why not? This is about me, my husband, and my baby, I thought. Unrelenting, he left the room, and we waited for the nurse. She was coming to take the five vials.

I fainted during the first vial, or at least that’s what Michael told me on the way out of the office. I started to shake, and my face went pale. My eyes rolled back, and I fell onto his chest. I woke up in a sweat.

”Once she is fully awake, we will take the next four,” the nurse said to my husband. “Once she is awake, we are going home,” he told her. “You can’t, the blood test is mandatory” she replied. All the while, I sat there, sweating, scared, and slowly waking up.

I have never been an anxious person, but pregnancy has changed me a bit.

“How am I going to advocate for myself?”

“What do they mean I have no choice?”

“What am I doing?”

Earlier that morning, we had our first ultrasound. I lay on the chair, Michael’s hand in mine, as she applied the gel to my seemingly normal-looking stomach. The gel wasn’t as cold as I expected. As she pressed the wand to my stomach, an image appeared on the screen. Slowly, it came into focus, and there was our baby.

”Look at baby’s nose” I kept saying. Michael laughed. What a feeling it is to see your perfect baby for the first time. Proof of your beautiful little life, growing within me.

When we got in the car I sent the ultrasound photos to everyone. “Look at that beautiful nose,” my grandpa said, “it’s definitely a girl”.

“They look just like me,” joked my dad.

“Baby looks just like Michael,” our friend wrote back—my least favorite of the comments. Baby is going to look just like me.

Seeing our baby and hearing their heartbeat was magical. Michael could hardly keep his hands off my belly the rest of the day. Once home, we spoke only about your sweet little nose, your fast heartbeat, and your tiny T-Rex arms moving around the screen. We hung Christmas lights, decorated our new tree, and cooked a delicious dinner as we dreamed out loud about you.

“You won’t be showing by Christmas,” she said.

“I hope I am,” I replied. I dreamed of my little bump in a Christmas sweater.

“You shouldn’t be showing by 15 weeks,” she said, and we moved on.

But at 14 weeks my pants were tight, and at the end of the day, my stomach felt large as I lay in bed. And so I began to worry. Am I not working out enough? Am I eating too much? “You’re not supposed to eat for two,” they tell me.


Feelings of insecurity that I thought would surely vanish with pregnancy, amplified by the hands of family, friends, and strangers who have reached out to touch my belly—something I honestly thought would not bother me at all. But, when people see you in the morning and comment on how you aren’t even showing yet, and then others see you at night and touch the bump below your sweater and exclaim, “You’re showing!” it is hard not to feel guilty about the last Christmas cookie that you ate.

I feel silly admitting this. I am carrying a baby, creating a life. But here we are.

You are so loved already. Those hands reaching for my belly are from people who cannot wait for your arrival. They want to feel close to you. They aren’t as lucky as me. I spend all day with reminders of your little pretense, but family and friends who love you so much just want to say hi and feel your magic.

I am not the only one who dreams of what you will be like. If they say it takes a village, you will have a whole country.

We are so loved.

The other night Michael’s mom pulled out his baby book. Sometimes I hope that you are like your father so that I can meet little him. Will you hide snacks behind the living room couch so that your imaginary elephant friend has something to eat? Will you stand up on the kitchen table and dance when you are angry to get our attention?

My cousin Brendan called me at midnight on the New Year. He had stepped out of the crowded bar. “I wanted to call all the people I love the most to say Happy New Year,” he told me. “This is going to be your year,” he said. “I can’t wait to meet that baby. I am so excited for you.”

The other day, in a fit of frustration, I told my mom “I haven’t felt like I am glowing one day of this pregnancy.” My pants don’t fit, but I don’t have a cute little bump yet, and my skin is breaking out like crazy. My face feels round, and I am out of breath every time I try to pick up the pace.

And then the next day I read my morning pregnancy page, and it told me that baby can hear us now, and it was all magic again. You can hear us now. Michael and I lay in bed each morning and talk to you. We say good morning and tell you how much we love you, and usually, Michael tickles me a bit. I can’t help but laugh and the smile persists when he tells me how beautiful I am.

Surely, I am glowing.

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