There are all sorts of signs that this thing…this major, incomprehensible, life-altering thing…is really going to happen.
There are the calendar signs. All but one of the major milestones are over. Through this pregnancy, I’ve tried to explain the concept of gestational time to my 3 year old niece in terms of major milestones/events – she has a hard time understanding why the baby can’t be here now. But she can understand that the baby won’t be here until after her brother’s birthday. And somehow I’ve also come to time this 3rd trimester in terms of major milestones. In the same sing song tone that I use with Gracie, I’ve come to recite: First we have Christmas, then New Year’s, then Gracie’s birthday, then our New Orleans Shower, then our Atlanta shower, then Will’s birthday, then Ashley’s birthday…and then the baby will be here. And suddenly, all but Ashley’s birthday is behind us. And as it all flies by, I’m more aware of time speeding up. I feel like I’m watching a Looney Tunes cartoon where the pages of the calendar fly off faster and faster and faster while the seasons change rapidly in the background.
And speaking of seasons, there are the seasonal signs. If the calendar method isn’t enough, I know that with every bloom it’s getting closer. Elia will arrive after the jonquils, crocus and tulips bloom. Sometimes around when the azaleas and dogwoods bloom, but before the gardenias and hydrangeas bloom. I watch our hydrangea bush slowly wake up with the intensity of someone trying to divine the future from tea leaves.
And then, there are the physical signs. While I’m still not 100% sure, I’m starting to think that Elia’s “big stretches” that tighten my belly aren’t stretches after all. I’m now thinking that they may be braxton hicks. Then, over the last week or so, I’ve had period-like cramps very low in my abdomen. That’s an odd, but not painful, sensation after having a break from them for so long. But they don’t tighten my belly the way I’ve read contractions will. Also, I’m swelling up pretty badly. After only carrying in my belly for nearly all of this pregnancy, my fingers and ankels are swelling. My days of wearing a ring are over. And finally, she’s dropped and I’m “softened.” I know that none of this means anything in terms of defining the big date, but it means that my body’s starting the process of bringing our tiny baby to the outside world.
As they say, so close, yet so far away.