In the beginning there was shock. The home pregnancy test was definitely positive. Could this be possible? Devon and I had been married only five months! We were stunned but excited. When the doctor's official blood test confirmed that we were pregnant, surprise turned to worry: In the week before I realized my period was late, I'd gone out for drinks with friends, eaten sushi, gotten my hair highlighted, and cleaned my cat's litter box countless times. All pregnancy no-nos. What had I done to this poor kid already? My ob-gyn reassured me that our child was just fine. Devon and I agreed not to tell anyone our secret for at least three months.
Is it a boy or a girl? I think I want to find out before the baby is born. I'm anxious to get to know him or her as soon as I can. And it will make buying clothes and decorating the nursery so much easier. Devon disagrees: "No way! There are too few surprises in life -- this is one of the good ones. And besides, do we care either way? As long as he or she is healthy, I'm happy!" Wow! I've never seen my laid-back husband get this worked up. Touched by his passion, I agree that keeping it a surprise is a great idea.
I've got tons of energy, and I don't really feel pregnant -- save for my constantly sore breasts. No morning sickness, but I do have cravings. I can't get enough chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream and pickled herring. (But not at the same time!) I bought Devon a baby-naming book for his birthday. We've found a few boy options we both like -- Jack, Ryan, Conner -- but we just can't agree when it comes to girl choices. I'm a big fan of out-of-the-ordinary names. My current fave is Piper. Devon favors traditional ones like Sarah. I'm thinking we'll be arguing -- I mean talking -- about this for the whole nine months.
How things change! Suddenly I'm overcome by exhaustion. I want to crawl home at the end of the day, get under the covers, and stay there. The good news: The doctor says everything is normal, so Devon and I are finally ready to tell everyone. We framed two ultrasound photos, gift-wrapped them, and presented them to our parents. Devon's mom screamed, then cried; my mom just about fainted; and my dad -- a career military guy -- gave me the biggest hug . . . and I swear I saw a tear.
I've suddenly popped! Up until now I've been able to wear my regular-size pants with the top button undone. No more: Overnight, my belly's ballooned. I've gained ten pounds -- all of it around my middle. I've always been slim, so to see myself in the mirror is startling. Even Devon is stunned. Seeing me walk by in just panties and a bra, he exclaimed, "Whoa, what happened?" My A-cup boobs have swelled too -- and I must say, it's fabulous to have killer cleavage!
More tummy. I'm up 16 pounds. The biggest news is that I can finally feel the baby move. During an ultrasound, he or she let out such a powerful kick that I practically fell off the table.
I've officially switched from thongs to granny panties. Devon is less than thrilled.
Devon, my mother-in-law, and I ventured into one of those gigantic baby stores. What have I gotten myself into? Parents-to-be running around with carts stacked with stuff, toddlers screaming -- and way too many things to look at. At least 100 strollers to choose from, dozens of car seats, high chairs, bassinets, and much, much more. At the very least, we need a crib and a changing table, but we walked out overwhelmed and empty-handed. I think I'll ask my mother-in-law to pick out everything and surprise me.
Devon and I took our last "couple" vacation -- to Florida for a little R&R. The time away was good. My energy rebounded; we went for walks on the beach, and our sex life perked up. It's been hard to feel amorous with 23 pounds strapped to my waist.
How unbelievable to think we'll be meeting this little person in just a couple of months. What will the baby look like? Will he be funny like his dad? Outgoing like me? In the midst of all this dreaming, I realize he (or she) still doesn't have a room of his own! We've really got to get organized. I hope that nesting instinct I've heard so much about kicks in soon!
"Look how big you are!" I've heard that phrase about 200 times in the past three days. People are sure I'm having a boy because of the way I'm carrying -- all in front.
I'm starting to stress about things out of my control: What if something goes wrong during delivery? What if my baby is stillborn? I'm afraid to open a childbirth book because I can't handle reading the words "complications" and "birth defects." While pregnancy is a truly joyous time, I don't think any woman is prepared for the nagging worries that creep into your head late at night.
Childbirth classes begin. Three nights, three hours each. That's a lot of information. I think I'd rather have stayed in the dark about the ins and outs of episiotomies, epidurals, and emergency C-sections. Hey, for centuries women all over the world have just squatted in a field and delivered their child, no problem. I can handle this, right? As our childbirth instructor said, "You have no other choice at this point!"
My mother-in-law threw me a shower, and boy, did we clean up! A high chair, a bouncy seat, an activity center, and loads of cute little non-gender-specific outfits.
Sex is now absolutely the last thing on my body's wish list. I'd rather kick back with a pint of ice cream.
We're pretty settled on a boy's name -- we love Jack -- but still no girl's name. Every time I think we've decided on something, Devon changes his mind. First Riley, then Bridget, then Katie. I thought we were home free with Lexi. Now he's not so sure. I'm resigned to the fact that if my baby's a girl, she'll have to go by "Baby X" for the first few weeks.
And no one ever told me just how active these babies are! Some kicks are so strong they literally take my breath away. I think we've got a future soccer player on our hands. At other times, I swear the kid's doing somersaults and handstands -- a huge blob (the butt?) will shift to the right, then to the left, then back to the right.
At work, I catch myself daydreaming about the baby or making little lists of what we still need to get done. I'm really trying to meet my deadlines, but you know what? Who cares -- I'm having a baby!
My coworkers have started a pool to guess the baby's birth date, sex, and his or her birth weight. Oh, and everyone gets to pick a name too. Some suggestions scare me: A ten-pound, eight-ounce baby! But the ideas for names make me laugh: Axel, Magnus, Brunhilde!
I'm big. Really big. Getting up off the couch is tough. But then I touch my belly and feel so darn happy.
Are we ready for parenthood? I don't know. My due date is almost here, and I'm in denial. Taking care of this precious new life will be the most exciting thing I've ever done -- but what if we screw up somehow? To think that for the rest of my life, someone will be calling me Mom and looking to me for, well, everything, is completely overwhelming. At the same time, I feel blessed with this gift. I also wouldn't mind being blessed with a short labor and an easy delivery!
*Postscript: Eight-pound, three-ounce Jack Gowen Walsh was born by C-section on May 31 -- a most memorable Memorial Day for Heather and Devon!
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the September 2004 issue of Parents magazine.