I was talking to a friend the other day about how I don’t feel the Sydney queer community is very kid-friendly (being so focused on sex, drugs, and licensed venues), and she asked me if perhaps that was why I downplayed my excitement about being pregnant so much; why I don’t talk about it with my queer friends the same way I do with my straight breeder mates. It made me sad to realise there was some truth in that, so today’s post is all in honour of my joy at becoming a mother. I usually use the gender neutral word “parent” in this blog, in acknowledgement that people of many different genders can/do experience pregnancy, but today’s post is all about me. Me and my imminent baby.
When I look through the old blog posts, there seems to be a lot of negativity in my words. Whinging about morning sickness, homophobia, the agony of IVF, the loneliness of being a single parent…but let me tell you a little secret. I’m so fucking excited and happy about this beautiful growing bump. I feel so lucky that this has happened. I wanted it so fiercely, for as long as I can remember, and sometimes it all feels too good to be true. Sometimes I look down at my belly and worry that maybe it’s all just fat, and that I’ve imagined the whole thing. And then the baby gives my bladder a swift punch and I remember that this really truly is happening to me.
In the early months of the pregnancy I surprised myself with how little maternal gush I was experiencing. A large contributing factor was surely the morning sickness and the otherwise lack of physical evidence that a baby yet existed. It all felt like a bit of an anticlimax. In an attempt to connect better with my growing child I downloaded a pregnancy app. This was my diary entry from that day:
Ew! The picture of what my baby looks like at 5 weeks 1 day is revolting. It looks like a dinosaur, or some kind of grotesque monster. This is NOT helping my lack of maternal vibes!
As I also revealed in a blog post from that time, I even once or twice allowed myself the terribly dark fantasy of aborting. Not because that was what I actually wanted to do, but more to test the idea of taking my body back, reclaiming my insides as my own, just to see how that would feel. People often describe embryos as parasites, and I’d started to identify with that relationship much more than with being a mum. At nine months and nine days I still don’t really identify with the word mum. At this point in time I’m thinking I want the baby to just call me by my name. This is because I value independence–mine and the child’s–and also because of horses. My dad used to take me and my sister horse riding, and though I pretended to enjoy it, deep down I hated it. The thing I hated the most was the hierarchy that was created, with me at the top, directing the horse what to do. I feel a similar unease with the word mother. I would rather be my child’s teacher and friend. And if I’m honest, I also lack confidence in my authority. In the back of my mind is the awareness that my child could at any point realise that the only reason they can’t have some more ice cream is because I say so, not because there isn’t anymore in the freezer. And once this awareness has been reached and the ice cream has been ruthlessly raided, I’ll just be another destabalised dictator.
The first day I heard my baby’s heartbeat freaked me out beautifully. The midwife held the doppler stethoscope thing against my belly and instantly a rapid heartbeat filled the room. A heartbeat not my own, but coming from within me. It was the strangest feeling. It’s also really strange that the baby is not really aware yet that I exist. Sure it hears me and feels me around it, but it has no sense of itself yet, and therefore no sense of me. It’s like someone squatting a house for nine months, oblivious to the fact that the owner of the house has been watching them from the upstairs balcony the whole time. Or, in reverse, it’s like I have a permanent eavesdropper in my uterus, creepily there in EVERYTHING I do (but who thankfully doesn’t speak English). We don’t even really know each other yet, my baby and me, although there is no one in the world who knows this baby as intimately as I do. We might not get along. We might be a really bad match–an introvert and an extrovert, a left-wing lezzo and a conservative bogan. There might be someone inside me who I would never normally give the time of day to, and yet here we are thrown together, with no choice in the matter. What if I’m right now nurturing the next Tony Abbott, or the next Ghengis Khan? I made the grave mistake of starting to read “We Need to Talk About Kevin” just after my final failed IUI (Inter-Uterine Insemination). This was at the same time as the doctors told me my eggs and my donor’s sperm would need a helping hand (IVF) to get acquainted. I went into a mad, mad panic. What if this was nature’s way of stepping in and telling me we shouldn’t procreate together, that we were destined to create a monster?!
Obviously, after much soul-searching, crying, and imbibing of alcoholic beverages, I let go of these fears and of my discomfort with “playing god”, and gratefully embraced the technology that was able to grant my deepest, most unrelenting wish. Every time I run my hands over my tightly swollen belly I am thankful for being so privileged to have had access to publicly funded IVF, and for being so lucky that it worked. I love touching my belly. I love feeling my baby move beneath my hands–a heel pressing up here, a bum there. Being pregnant is the perfect excuse for public fondling of oneself. It’s like a zit you can’t stop playing with–a zit that never pops. And I mean NEVER. As I calmly amble past my due date and watch it drift away behind me into the horizon, I find myself back in the place I first started in–disbelieving that a baby will ever come of all of this. The creature twisting and turning inside me seems so far from a living, breathing, in-the-flesh baby. Everything is ready for their arrival: my mum has been living with me for over a month now, waiting for the big day; the birthing pool is ready to be inflated in the lounge-room; the birthday cake has been baked; and I have ticked every single thing off my to-do list. All we are missing is the baby.
I am so ready for this person to arrive. I am so ready for the changes and challenges they will bring, for the sleepless nights and the chaotic days. For months now, the first thing I’ve done every morning is to cuddle my belly and whisper sweet nothings to the being inside. Then I look across at the empty side of the bed and imagine them lying there, and my heart fills and spills over. I am already so very much in love, and I know that from here on I am only going to keep falling even deeper. It’s the greatest adventure I’ve embarked on to date, and believe me, my life up until now has been anything but dull. I know that at times it will be impossibly hard, but there’s nothing I’ve ever wanted more. So bring it on, baby. Mummy’s ready for you. xxx