These days, it takes me about one minute to tell people that Abbi and I are expecting.
Take last night for example. I walked out of my office around nine o’clock. The building was nearly empty, so my elevator went express. When the doors opened 29 floors below, I bumped into a familiar colleague. I couldn’t remember her name, nor in what department she worked, but I said hello anyway. By the time we hit the escalator, I’d somehow found a contextual way to tell her the news. That lead, as always, to the following exchange:
Person: Is this your first?
Me: Can’t you tell by my enthusiasm!?!
Person: And how’s your wife doing?
And so it dawned on me as I passed Abbi exhausted and expressionless on the couch, Dear Reader, that you might be wondering the same.
I’m obviously not in her head, and she doesn’t blog, so I’ll have to answer from my perspective: Abbi’s doing great. She’s been steady and brave throughout the last six months, calmly adapting to changes in her body, mind and spirit. I look at her there on the couch, bolstered by pillows, hand on her stomach, little creature squirming and turning and kicking her in the ribs and — though eons of women have gone through the exact same process — I am awed by and envious of her grace and courage. You know how they say a pregnant woman glows? Understatement.
Her first trimester was textbook: morning’s were tempered by dry cereal and orange juice; she had appetite for little else. Even with the sonogram snapshot of our tiny, twelve-week-old embryo, our conversations were in the abstract and far-future.
Her second trimester was a promised too: any immediate light switch that found her energies, appetite and humor restored. She began to show, then to grow steadily: a tiny bump just below her belly button, but contained by her hips. Our twenty-week ultrasound made it real. Our babymoon marked the time. And our first Real Birth class set the stage. When our birthing instructor suggested that one of the easiest and most important things Abbi can do is stay hydrated, I had a case of Poland Spring Water delivered to her office.
Abbi is full-on preggers now, 26 weeks into 40 weeks of pregnancy. She wears pants with stretchy waists, and loose tops, and looks gorgeous. Her stomach is roughly the size of a basketball (her description, not mine), and is soft and round but less so than I might have expected: some spots (presumably the baby’s head and hips) are slightly harder, others a bit squishy. (I spend a lot of time with my head and hands on her belly.) The baby is (according to the numerous books and iPhone apps she reads) over a foot long and about two pounds, or roughly the size of an eggplant. She is working long, challenging days, and usually returns home absolutely exhausted. She’s typically in bed by nine o’clock.
As you’d expect, there is a tremendous amount of psychological transition going on as well. Abbi is, in my experience, far more of an introvert than I am. She is typically either factual and pragmatic, or completely silent and wildly emotional. Her connection to this new person in her life is almost palpable. I, in contrast, talk all the time, expressing my anxieties, my excitement, and my observations non-stop. It’s possible )I hadn’t considered it until just now) that I need more acknowledgement, validation and support than before (and I need a lot).
It’s a lot, and I’ve scarcely scratched the surface. There’s the forthcoming move, the actual birthing process, the financial aspects, the familial politics and considerations, and how hard I’ve endeavored to cultivate new levels of empathy and accountability. It’s all happening, all marching forward: a thousand, tiny heartbeats counting down like a stopwatch until the day that the three of us meet.
This week, we began playing my recording of “Golden Slumbers” to Baby every night just before bed. Last night, there was a stirring in the second verse, just after the lyrics, “Smiles await you when you rise.”
“Did you feel that?” Abbi asked.
I often do, but in that moment, I hadn’t. In many ways, I’m just on the outside of this amazing process. Still, I’m doing everything I can to be completely in it.