39 weeks and six days of gestation—our third baby is almost here—and I’m on my hands and knees in the bathroom at 2 a.m., retching. The nausea comes on suddenly in the night, apparently unprompted by anything other than my body deciding to experience a few more pregnancy symptoms before it’s all over. It hasn’t been the easiest of pregnancies this time around—if I’m brutally honest, there have been considerable stretches of it when my answer to the question, “How are you feeling?” was an unequivocal “Never felt worse in my life, dear god, how much more of this can I endure?”—but it’s been relatively nausea free. I’m making up for it this week.
Sean, once again, feels helpless and frustrated. “Is there anything you need, love?” he asks from the bedroom. Between retches, I vocalize “No.” “Do you think the baby’s sitting on your stomach again?” he asks, sleepy but concerned. That’s our theory behind my intermittent night puking of the last week. Or has it been two? In response, I retch again—shut the door and turn on the fan to drown the noise.
It’s tough on Sean. He’d like to push a button on me to “fix it”—a back rub, a foot massage, a magic drink? I think this is why tough pregnancies are so tough on male partners—and in many cases marriages. They can’t fix it, they don’t know what to do, and they go from feeling helpless to useless to … worse.
It’s tough on me, too, of course… but different. Isn’t it? This last stretch—so exhausting, so frustrating, so painful, and we haven’t even hit the “hard” part of active labour yet—is tough, tough, tough and turning me into a big fat whiner… who swears she will never, ever EVER yearn for a baby in tummy again, she’s done, go ahead and get that vasectomy tomorrow if you wish, sweetheart, because I am not going through this again for anything, not ever… but I know that when that baby pops out, amnesia will start to set in. Perhaps not right away—perhaps it will take a few weeks or few months—but that “never, ever, oh god, how is it that I’ve been able to endure this?” feeling will give way first, to wonder and gratitude at the little miracle in my arms, then conviction that this of-me-now-out-of-me creature at my breast is worth EVERYTHING and ANYTHING, and finally, possibly, as he grows bigger and bigger and bigger, the longing to experience the miracle again, accompanied by complete denial of how difficult the last pregnancy was.
I finish retching, clean up, ponder the odds of being able to keep down whatever remains in my stomach if I lie flat, and go peek at my two out-of-me babies. One seven years and four months old today, the other four years and nine months. Almost seven and a half and five—I can’t believe it. My Flora sleeps on her side, both her hands tucked under her cheek, her mouth slightly open. Cinder’s upside down, legs on his pillow, head beside our—his—beloved puppy, 10-year-old Anya. He’s all legs and arms. He’s huge. He fills up the whole bed. My baby, who not that long ago—those seven years passed in a flash—swam within my womb. My first miracle.
As he falls asleep at night, I still whisper in his ear, “You are my first miracle. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me—you’ve changed my life.” (When Sean comes into the bedroom at those moments, the loveliest, most love-filled thing I can say to him is, “Thank you for my babies.” Does he understand what I mean by that, how much I love him for being their daddy, for helping me make them? I don’t know. I don’t know if any man, or any non-mother, can.)
My second miracle stretches. At bedtime and bath time today, we were playing baby Flora. She was baby Flora, swimming in the uterus—in the tub—until “pop! Out I come like an asteroid! I’m born!” I was, alternately, mama and Cinder—“Can you play two characters in the game, Mama? Just tell me which one you are, ok? Are you Cinder now? Are you saving me from rolling off the couch like Cinder did the time I was just born?” She’s so excited about the imminent arrival of a baby sibling. “I’m going to be a big sister, just like Cinder is a big sister. I mean big brother. And Cinder will be a double big brother. And the three of us will be triplets!”
My triple miracle. The nausea recedes farther. The uterus contracts, not too intensely, but not what you’d call pleasantly. It practices for the main event. I take a deep breath and rub it. “Come out, come out,” I tell miracle three. “We’re all waiting for you. I’m not sure if you can conceive how much love is waiting out here for you. A mama, a daddy, a brother, a sister… so much love.”
One of my out-of-me double miracles lets out a meowling noise, tosses and turns. I tiptoe out of the room. Turn off the light. Must make myself sleep and rest despite the turmoil in my body: must be able to take care of all my miracles tomorrow. We have books to read, games to play, pets to take care of, food to make, walks to take, messes to create and perhaps even clean up… a baby to welcome.
The hormones surge, and a level of delirium sets in. I write for a while, until exhaustion defeats both the nausea and the contracting uterus. To sleep. I hear the breaths of my children, my husband. My dog (she’s the loudest). Miracle three kicks and stretches. To sleep. To dream. To live.
30 September 2009