I’m not a doctor, but throughout the entirety of my third pregnancy, I confidently reiterated to everyone my assessment until they took it as fact: there was no way I’d make it to forty weeks pregnant. My first two children were born weeks shy of their due dates, and childbearing seemed like one of those things for which past experience determined future experience. So, baby number three just had to make an early appearance. Again, not a doctor (but, judging by this brilliant logic, I should obviously be one).
It’s easy to see where this is going – cue bewilderment, because I’ve made it all the way to my due date, for the first time. And, amidst the swelling limbs, sleeping challenges, plates of nachos, and a favorable cervix (one of the more delightful pregnancy-related phrases that I take the opportunity to use regularly), I’ve spent the last few weeks being angry.
Anger is not in the accepted gestating narrative, so as weeks thirty-seven and thirty-eight rolled by with no signs of labor, I smiled and nodded when others asked if I’m just, “So, so excited!” to meet my daughter soon. Excited wasn’t the word. Even eager wasn’t the right word. For me, the word was done. Done yesterday. Done last week. I’m petite in size with an almost nonexistent torso, and my (again, expertly medical) explanation for not making it to forty weeks was that my kids literally had no more room in the womb and wanted out. I had so convinced myself I wouldn’t carry this baby to its due date that I could only get angrier as the day approached, and I wondered how much longer I could function as a physically useless human while working and raising two other kids.
Perspective can take effort, but it’s something I always try to have in situations like these. So, here I am on my due date, and for a change, I’m feeling the anger evaporate. Disappear and be replaced with a melancholy realization that while I don’t especially love being pregnant, this is my last child, and therefore the last time I’ll hold any of my kids this close. The last time I’ll feed and sustain them this intimately. The last time I’ll feel them kick from the inside (as opposed to being kicked in the face when they’re out and you’re trying to wrangle them into a diaper).
There is room for anger, but there is room for that sadness. There is room, also, for gratitude that my body has grown another human to term, and I don’t take for granted a success that not everyone is fortunate enough to celebrate. I’m eager to reclaim my body as mine, and this time for good, but I’m also mindful of this experience as it passes through me a final time. It took until the very end, but at forty weeks pregnant, I’m done being angry, and I feel for the first time like telling my daughter she can stay put for a few more days, if that’s what she wants.