32 weeks? 33 weeks? Who even knows anymore after my last post—I liked commenter Shelly's suggestion that I should just hold up both sets of numbers with a papier-mache question mark between them for all my remaining photos, and also that I'd need a third hand to do so—but one thing I do know is that, either way, I am giving birth next month, as in "the month that comes after this one," as in oh my god, what?
I apologize if it's tiresome that I keep figuring out that this is real and happening and I'm going to have an actual proper baby at the end of all of it—it does seem like rather a reoccuring theme in my weekly posts, I have to say—but seriously, come on, is there a time when it really does feel real and not just like you're playing a rather elaborate trick on everyone around you? When you go into labor, maybe? When they hand you a squawling bundle at the hospital? When the squawling bundle starts shaving and goes off to college? In some ways, the countdown to my due date reminds me of the period between my engagement and my wedding, when I'd spend the days with a mental tally ticking down in my head—"Three months to go! Two months to go! A week to go! 24 hours to go!"—but the weird thing about pregnancy, I guess, is that even when it's over, it doesn't end there. With a wedding, you have the wedding and then it's over. With a baby, you have the baby and then....you still have the baby. And then you have the baby for the rest of your life.
(Jean Kerr said that, by the way, not Leah. I mean, Leah said that Jean Kerr said it, but....ah, you know what I mean. Wise words either way.)
The most exciting thing I did at 32 weeks pregnant was attend a daylong writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed, at which I was lucky enough to meet her afterwards—I mean, like, in the book-signing line with everyone else, not during an intimate tete-a-tete at the bar wherein we ate nachos and gossiped about the cute waiter and immediately became lifelong besties (ALAS, ALAS)—and answer her very polite inquiries about my due date. I still haven't worked up the courage to reply "what? I'm not pregnant!" to the oft-repeated "when are you due?" from friendly strangers—which is a shame, really, because it would be particularly hilarious in these later days—but I think we can all agree that if you are going to punk someone with that joke, you shouldn't punk a nationally-acclaimed author whose work and wisdom (and, let's face it, shoes) you admire. So I just smiled and said "Oh, July 27th!" and then entered into a little banter about the weather.
I guess this is why she didn't write "Will you be my literary protégé and also my best friend?" in either of my books.
The second most exciting thing I did at 32 weeks pregnant was attend a two-part childbirth class, during which I learned things, quite honestly, that I sort of wish I didn't know—I will not be able to WALK OR TALK during contractions? And sometimes these contractions will COME ON TOP OF EACH OTHER with no break inbetween?—and also found myself curiously reassured about labor and delivery, despite the shocking information the teacher quite matter-of-factly doled out, just by dint of being told, step-by-step, exactly what would happen. I am a person who likes to know the plan, you see, and I don't mean "the birth plan," because I am under no illusions that things are going to go the way I want them to go—if the baby comes OUT, I will consider the day a success, no matter what route we need to take to get there—but rather what will happen, physically, on the day itself. This, along with your wonderful comments, has made me feel a lot more laidback about the whole thing, so thank you for all the advice you shared when I asked about it. I can't even tell you how lucky I feel to know—well, "know," I guess—so many people with such excellent expertise.
Speaking of pain—I mean, that's, like, the general consensus I got from all of you when I asked: yep, it's gonna hurt like a bitch and then it's gonna hurt even more—I have recently added a new pregnancy side-effect to my roster and it is this: in the night, when I am not waking up to pee every three minutes, I am waking up because my back hurts, which is super fun and relaxing, as I'm sure you can imagine, and is not relieved by a) lying on my left side, b) lying on my right side, c) propping a pillow between my legs, which I feel like I maybe read somewhere would help, or d) getting up, making a gin and tonic, and downing it with a handful of Percocet.
(Okay, I didn't really try D. Are you kidding? A rum and coke would be far more effective.)
Aside from giving me a useful new opportunity to practice my pain management techniques—find the silver linings where you can!—this middle-of-the-night backache (it never comes back during the day, only when I'm trying to sleep) has thrown into context how generally lucky I've been during this pregnancy so far, and how relatively minor my troubles and tribulations have been. I mean, eh, your back hurts a bit in the night with only a single-digit number of weeks to go? Tell that to the woman who's had to wear a brace for the last couple of months to deal with the pain, who was actually a real woman in my childbirth class, and you know what, on second thought, I won't tell her that because she might punch me. What I'm saying, I guess, is that I never want my silly complaints about pregnancy to overshadow how totally wonderful and miraculous I've found it so far, or how grateful I am to be experiencing it. And just think, I haven't even got to the very best part.