with the release from bedrest and my fledgling return to civil society come privileges.  i can walk…slowly.  i can dance…sorta.  i can march out at any time of day or night and procure my own Nibs cake (insert favourite heartburn-inducing poison here).

sure, the price is high.  anyone who’s ever been pregnant will attest that with the whole going out in public thing comes…well, the public.  other people.  who note one’s advanced maternal state, and feel obliged to comment upon it.  or to touch it…it, of course, being me.  i don’t mind the belly rubbing…though it makes me feel vaguely like a shi-tzu being cooed over, however pleasantly…but the boob-petting is perhaps just a touch too familiar for me.  i shit you not, a middle aged woman patted my left breast last weekend and said, oh honey, they fall down after this.  i gave her my best Maidenform smile and tried to claim mine’ve bounced back smashingly, thank you very much, but i mostly succeeded in drooling lemon water down the front of my offendingly obvious cleavage whilst trying NOT to look like a member of Junior Prudes of America.  shock tends to send my wits packing for awhile, but the desire to impress the weirdos with my cool?  alas, that never leaves me.

coming off four months of bedrest and relative seclusion has left me vulnerable and awkward in the interchange of niceties between people in public.  i am too honest, too eager.  i’m so astonished by my good fortune at actually being out and about and still pregnant to boot that i feel like a kid on a blind date, all aw-shucks awkward in my own stretched skin and yet horny as hell, bubbling over with Too Much Information the moment the subject of the pregnancy is broached.  far, far too many people who do not read this blog now know about my pesky cervical issues, friends.

two years and a bit ago, when i was first sprung from the hospital after seven weeks flat on my back gestating Oscar, i was shocked by the invasiveness being visibly pregnant seems to invite in others.  it hurt, then, the cheery throw-away barrage of is this your first? and what do you have at home? that i could not answer honestly without causing the faces behind the banal pleasantries to shrink away in mortification.  i didn’t enjoy their embarrassment, their discomfort.  on the other hand, i didn’t enjoy pretending i was some sort of first-time birth virgin, either, and thus subjecting myself to knowing lectures about how i couldn’t possibly imagine what was ahead…nor did i enjoy negating my firstborn’s existence just to make people feel better about having pried into my personal history innocently expecting to find only sunbeams.  i wasn’t sorry that i only spent two weeks negotiating the Big Wide World after bedrest that time around.

this time, i’ve already passed the two week mark of happy Out-and-Aboutness.  i’m not so raw, this time, nor so unprepared for strangers’ well-intentioned curiosity.  and since i have a living child, my short but honest answers to people’s questions don’t thud all conversation to a halt quite so brutally as they did two years ago…the crickets still chirp, but we all generally recover before the tumbleweeds blow in.

in other words, even the one thing i dreaded about assuming this belated mantle of A Normal, Blessed Pregnancy is going pretty well dandy…even if it does feel like a circus act.  i bumble and beam and accept the boob-groping with what i hope passes for grace…because awkward as i feel, waddling my way down the streets slower than the senior citizens, i am nonetheless aware, acutely, that this is a state of grace i’m in.  i look around me, wary, wondering who – infertile, babylost, recently miscarried – aches at the sight of my swollen belly.  i look into the eyes of the old ladies with their uninvited stories of labours and grandkids and see longing for a time forever gone, slipped past.  i look in the mirror and sigh at the size of my behind, and then give my head a shake and straighten up a bit and run my fingers over the old and new stretch marks and breathe deep and dare to grieve that this will – knock wood for safe arrivals – be the last time i do this, this crazy terrifying journey that i yet will miss and mourn the end of when the day comes and i have to face up to the reality that i will never again walk this particular tightrope of want and love and holding my breath.