Mon 25 May 2009
she’s been out now longer than she was ever in.
yesterday marked sixteen months since the day i found out i was pregnant with Posey. it was an eight-month pregnancy that felt like eighty. and eight and a half months later, i think i’m finally recovered-ish. send flowers.
they say we humans have a fourth trimester to pregnancy, the final one spent outside the womb thanks to the engineering clusterfuck of large brains and tender perinea. i say four-schmore.
i’m more of a six-trimester mammal, myself.
both times i’ve come home from the hospital with a baby, it’s taken an entire pregnancy-length again for me and the offspring to begin to show signs of being human. the colicky infant and the feeding machine who doesn’t sleep more than three hours in a row are not functioning people, people. they are still gestating, albeit perhaps in separate beds. they are creatures of the body, days dictated by routines of demanding bellies and sheer exhaustion and a lot of mindless wiping. of everything.
the taller of the pair may occasionally engage in conversation and give the impression of being a thinking adult, but do not be fooled. that is not thinking. that is just the habit of talking in complete sentences, which is hard to break even when one actually has nothing to say other than “i wiped vomit off my shirt seven times today.”
it gets easier after that fourth trimester, sure. but only after the full mirror pregnancy has been ticked off the calendar do i actually feel as if my body or my life are in any way my own. slowly, my self creep back, at first distorted, hard to recognize. slowly, between six and eight months after the baby arrives, my sense of being utterly consumed, of being with child in a way even more total than during pregnancy itself, trails off…not with the bang of birth, but with a whimper.
one morning i wake up and notice that i’ve actually slept. all week. ’til an almost-civilized hour. and i go in to find my little baby laughing at her brother, who’s peering into her crib, and she’s watching him knowingly as if she’s more than cognisant of exactly what’s going to come next and i realize that our rhythms have shifted from pure bodily function to social patterns – that i no longer have an infant, but a very small, very sweet, watchful, fierce little girl. in a baby body, but a baby body that rocks and crawls and explores and feeds itself whatever it finds on the floor, indiscriminately, and gets closer to independence every day. she loves the cat. she has a sense of humour. she high-fives, and dislikes lentils. her lip quivers when i tell her “no.”
and i congratulate myself and say, “hey! you! you had a baby!” and then i look around and know that it is done, survived, that long, brain-numbing road of extended gestation that seems to be my lazy, elderly arse’s response to infancy and colic and sleep-deprivation and nursing. it is done, except for the nursing, and even that begins to wane, takes less precedence, demands little except a happy cuddle.
we are two now, almost fully. semi-civilized both, my baby girl and i each brought safely to ourselves.
the whimper that escapes comes from me. and i do not know if it is relief or longing, for that strange half-life for two that will never come again.
i know not everyone seems to have these pitifully long elephantine gestations, in the sense that some of you bounce back into your jeans and your actual senses of self miraculous weeks after birth. i consider you robots amazing specimens. ;)
did you have that sense of being still utterly baby-consumed after birth? what was your mirror gestation length? and how did you feel coming out the other side?