My due date is tomorrow. Not that I'm really expecting anything to happen on the actual due date; there is only a small percentage of women who actually deliver naturally on their due date. But still, something about that date, December 10th, the day we've all been telling people and talking about, rouses this little voice in my head that shouts "TOMORROW!!!!!!"
Even if I don't go in to labor tomorrow, that date signifies that the end is near- very near. The end of a period of time often brings about a time of reflection, and nearing the end of my pregnancy has certainly been no different. Over the course of these last nine months (actually about 7 1/2 months that I actually knew I was pregnant) I've been doing a lot of reflecting, and evaluating where I am in life. I try to take stock of where I am regularly, but having a baby has encouraged me to look deeper, as has my decision towards adoption. But here I want to take the time to write down some of these reflections, specifically the things I have become especially grateful for.
I've heard some women say that they love being pregnant. That they never felt so good, that they have never been healthier or happier. I wonder if they really physically feel that incredible during their pregnancy or if a large portion of it is that they are mentally and emotionally excited about having a baby. I had a roommate in college who, when she was frustrated with her studies, would say, "I don't even want this degree, I just want to be a mommy!" I've never been able to relate to that sentiment, I've never felt any kind of biological or emotional need to have children or for the feeling of being pregnant. So maybe it's part of that anticipation or need that I'm missing for me to be able to say that I've felt great throughout my whole pregnancy, but I just can't say that. I hated feeling sick for 5 months straight, I hated being at work and having to lay my head down on my desk because of nausea and exhaustion just to have my boss walk in with a list of things for me to do. I've hated the feeling of pain my legs have felt, which I can only liken to the sensation two toothpicks must feel having to hold up a watermelon.
No, I had no desire to feel any of those things. But I'll never forget the first time I felt my little boy move.. my God what an experience!!!!! While I was working in Alaska, there were times when I would just sit in my office with my hand over my stomach, feeling those tiny kicks and punches, and I couldn't help but smile. My heart was smiling. Everything in me was smiling, and if my baby knew how happy he was making me, I bet he was smiling too. It's incredible! Even now, his movement is one of the most wonderful physical sensations I've ever experienced. And it's a good thing, because he is very active! Sometimes he just moves a foot or a hand, and then there are the times when I feel like he is making up for the the kickboxing workouts that I can no longer do. And with every single movement, with every wave of my belly, I am amazed and in awe of this life inside of me.
I've mentioned before the negative stigma adoption often has for the birth parents. An unplanned pregnancy, giving up a child, a tragic event. No wonder the idea of an open adoption throws many people for a loop. Who would want to remember and be involved in such a tragic happening? As I've learned with so many adoptions, that just isn't the case. Sure I had the moments when I first found out that were punctuated with choice expletives, but even those moments didn't last long. I look at this experience as such a positive thing, and I'm so thankful for everything I've been given. Would I have ever known the sensation of my son moving inside of me? Would I ever have had the honor and privilege of birthing a child? Of creating a life? Maybe it hasn't been in the way I would have chosen for myself, but I am experiencing things, I am experiencing life, in a way that might not ever have happened if it had been up to my plans. With the incredible support I've had, the people around me like Bill and Shelley who have re-arranged their lives to be here with me, not to mention the most wonderful people I could imagine to raise our son, how can this not be a positive experience for me? I don't feel that I need to convince others of that as much as I feel the need to pinch myself. "Is this really happening? I'm really going to have a baby, I'm really going to finally meet this little guy who has totally surprised and shaken my entire life? Is everything really working out this splendidly? How could I ask for anything to go any smoother?"
There are some things I can be more specifically thankful for, like the fact that I have gotten zero stretch marks (olive oil and vitamin E oil drenching the belly every day may have helped), or that my ankles and hands never swelled. Also the invention heating pads for my back and of bungee shoe laces that have made all my shoes slip-ons are not to be missed. Sure I've had my complaints, but all in all I'd say I've had a relatively easy and healthy pregnancy. And there have even been a few pleasant surprises, like the fact that for some odd reason the hair on my legs has mostly stopped growing. Seriously, I haven't shaved in 5 months and one would have to look really hard to find a few scraggly white hairs. I've never heard any other pregnant women claim that, but hey, I'll take it!
But when I go on my walks in the mornings, as I'm waddling ever more slowly on the trail, and I think about where I am in life and how I've gotten here, I can't help but be thankful for every moment. Everything that has led me up to this point, every pull and stretch I feel on my legs that remind me of my healthy, growing baby, every person I've met who has given me encouragement and support, every moment I have by myself to reflect on how blessed I've been, even in the surprises. I can't help but offer up thanks and praise.