holy shit, i’m almost full-term

36 1/2 weeks

In a few days, I’ll be full-term — the baby’s organs will be fully developed and he or she — in all of his or her wriggling, red-faced, squeamish glory — will be able to breathe on its own should it decide it’s tired of the womb.

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me — but holy shit, I’m almost full-term.

These days, I’m having trouble putting on my socks. I often dribble liquids on my protruding belly and look down at the mess like a 3-year-old. I can hear myself breathing hard just sitting at my desk. And when A. and I lie down in our king-size bed, snuggled up on either side of the body pillow, our faces inches away from each other, I can feel my heart pounding twice as hard as it usually does. Dr. M. said it was nothing to worry about — that even at rest, my heart is working as hard as if I was working out.

Most evenings now, A. and I have “story time,” where he leans down to where the doctor says the baby’s head is, and tells him or her a story. He talks to my whale-sized swollen belly, kissing it and rambling about the day’s events. It’s so cute, I should record it. I always try to stifle my laughs so that they don’t drown out his voice — I want this baby to recognize its father’s voice. But can the baby really hear him? I wonder what the baby senses or feels.

On Saturday, A. and I hibernated — after I went to yoga and he went climbing, we spent the afternoon and evening in the quiet apartment as big, fluffy snowflakes floated down outside the window. A. made his addictive pasta (what a good Italian), I drank hot chocolate and we rented The Godfather Part II and snuggled on the couch. Could the baby sense my relaxed state? My happiness to spend quality time with A.? Could he or she hear us talk?

On Sunday, we walked in the brisk air over to the P St. bagel place for egg-and-bacon sandwiches and then ambled down into Rock Creek for a slow three-mile walk among the yellow, orange and red trees. We circled over to Adams Morgan, where I stopped for a small chai at Tryst to warm me. Oh, how I love October in D.C.

Then we picked up flowers to bring to a knocked-up, shot-gun wedding, moved-into-a-new-shack party. It was for a couple in our birthing class, and they live four short blocks north of us. They got married at the courthouse last week (mostly for tax purposes). I was talking with C., the party’s host, about how she’s not quite ready for the baby to arrive (and she’s due in two weeks). I had to agree with her.

I’m excited to meet our baby, but I’m also really loving my time with A. I’m so in love and now we’re focused on each other instead of getting our apartment ready and traveling and taking care of logistics. Our apartment is painted, the crib and dresser are assembled, the car seat is installed, the baby clothes are washed and my bag is (mostly) packed. I also love feeling the baby squirm inside of me — I know I’ll miss those gentle kicks.

And I thought by now I’d be resolved and ready to push an 8-pound baby out of me, but I can’t say that I am. I know it’s natural, and I know I’ve always been an athlete, but it is a bit scary. My goal in the next few weeks — besides focusing on A., sleeping and reading about caring for an infant — is to work on relaxation techniques and self-affirming talk. I can do this. I will do this. Millions of people have done this before me. It’s almost my turn.

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