I’m due to have my third child in a few months. As much of a parenting pro as I am at this point (well, as much as anyone can ever be a parenting pro), each pregnancy has been magical and wondrous all over again, including some of the so-called downsides. Pregnancy is a pretty miraculous thing and certain aspects never cease to amaze me …
1. Actually getting pregnant
This pregnancy did not come easily. And because of that, I am especially in awe of the fact that it happened — and grateful for how lucky my husband and I are. I have some pregnancy guilt this time around, as well as during my last two pregnancies, for women I know who have struggled with infertility, failed IVF rounds, and miscarriages. Before my first pregnancy, I took it for granted that it would happen. And now, I know: every pregnancy is a gift.
2. That first ultrasound
OH MY GOD! THERE IS AN ACTUAL BABY IN THERE! WAIT, IS IT MOVING AROUND? OH MY GOD! IT IS MOVING AROUND! LOOK AT THAT LITTLE HEART! LOOK AT THOSE RED AND BLUE FLASHES! THEY’RE BLOOD! OH MY GOD, BLOOD IS FLOWING! IS THAT AN ARM? A LEG? LOOK AT THOSE ARM AND LEGS! OH MY GOD.
3. When you finally feel the baby move inside you
At first, the movement’s just barely perceptible, subtle flutters. And then, oh yes, for sure: that baby is tossing and turning inside of you. It’s such an intimate phenomenon; it’ll be a while before your husband, kids, family, friends, and anyone else interested in groping your belly will feel it for themselves.
Meanwhile, only you can feel your baby doing Taekwondo/practicing to join Cirque du Soleil/whatever he’s doing in there, especially thrilling when you’re sitting at a boring work meeting. And then comes the day you can actually see the baby moving around. One of my fondest memories during my first pregnancy is lying in bed with my husband and watching the ripples across my belly in awe.
4. How satisfying eating can be
You are not just hungry — you are ravenous. If you don’t get some food in you immediately, you might just devour the furniture you are sitting on. Your body is working hard. It must be fueled. Feeeeeeeeed meeeeeeeeee. Now now now now now now. Mmmmm … food never tasted so good.
5. The various shapes different bellies assume
Some pregnant bellies look like soccer balls; others, basketballs. And some? “Oh, that’s where my watermelon went!” the lady at the dry-cleaning counter said to me last week, grinning at my belly. Which blew that whole “If you’re having a girl, your belly’s shaped like a watermelon” old wives’ tale out of the water, because I’m having a boy.
6. Pregnancy glow
It’s real, and people will compliment you on it. Too bad you can’t bottle that radiance and save it for that sleep-deprived stage after the baby is born.
7. Your hair’s looking pretty good, too
Thank overzealous hormones for hair that’s thicker than usual.
8. Seeing your baby in 3D
Many OB/GYNs now offer 3D photos to parents at no extra charge. I recently just saw the baby’s face in all its three-dimensional glory. And while from certain angles it looked like I was having an alien, in others I could clearly see the little guy’s features — closed eyes, nose, lips and all. Oh, and he’s a looker alright, in my humble opinion … and he’s not even born.
9. Watching your partner worship your belly
“Wait, honey, don’t leave!” my husband said as I was about to dash out the door the other day and catch the train to work. I stopped in my tracks and he walked over. “I just wanted to feel your belly,” he said, and he did. Then he leaned down and kissed it. And I would have melted on the spot, except I had to catch the train.
10. Fitting into some of your usual clothing
Sure, you’ve run out and bought a bunch of maternity wear, or scrounged some from friends. Thing is, up until the third trimester (and for some women, through it) you can get away with wearing pieces of your usual clothing: A-line or empire-waist tops, any bottom with an elasticized waist and, joy of joy, your beloved yoga pants. And for once in your life, you are not dressing to hide a belly, you are dressing to flaunt it.
11. Those vivid dreams
You’re swimming with whales! You just gave birth to a litter of kittens! Look at that volcano! Your pregnancy dream life is far more fascinating than anything on cable.
12. When they put the baby in your arms
No matter what you endured during labor, no matter how drugged up you were, you will never, ever forget that moment when you are first hold that bundle in the crook of your arm: so pink-faced, so teeny, so yours.