I'm a little over six months pregnant. I'm at the stage where sleeping is a sometimes peaceful experience, when I can get the pillows just right below my ever-increasing belly and enjoy limited kicking and stirring from the baby. Such sleep is a relief, when I don't have to carry the weight of the baby nor of myself; it is almost as good as floating in warm water. The sleep effort, however, often involves more tossing and groaning than resting, with the baby spinning and slapping me from the inside, and Robert and Carrie pinning me beneath the cover while Karl irritatingly dozes through it all. Last night was one of this second category.
We had been playing Risk until late last night, and only tore ourselves away mid-game so we could wind down before trying to sleep. I awoke in the early dark hours to the always odd sensation of life inside my belly, kicking and churning around. As consciousness rolled in, I began plotting my next strategic moves in our game. I tossed and rolled and moaned to no avail, booting Robert only to have him nuzzle in closer, and Carrie following him in. I was uncomfortable and sleep was not going to return.
As the baby reached into the nether regions with her latest jab, jolting me from my focus on our game, I was visited by a series of thoughts and images that are becoming more vibrant as this pregnancy develops and the reality of what my mother went through becomes more imaginable. When she awoke in the night, 6 months pregnant, with me poking and kicking, or her belly uncomfortably unsupported, her first thought would have been of my dying father, and not of a board game. She would have been daily jarred awake with the concern over his breathing, his strength, his comfort. Her ability to get comfortable was limited by the narrow cot in the hospital room. As I go through these same evolutionary changes in my body that she went through, with all my complaining and discomfort, I have a new conception of her pregnancy and the wild and very sad struggle that must have accompanied it.
I always carried so much sorrow that my father, who died 51 days before I was born, never held me. The sorrow was not only for myself, a tiny baby who wouldn't remember anyway, but also for him, a man who never got to look at his only child, never got to hold her, and never got to say anything to her before he passed on. But now that I am pregnant, I know that he would have been able to feel me kicking. He would have easily felt the little being that was me pounding away at my mother's belly with only some skin and tissue between me and his strong hand. I never realized this until this morning. How often do I reach for Karl's hand to warmly soothe my belly and take the brunt of some of the kicks himself?
Within the first moments of our baby's life outside the womb, she and Karl will both be given something I always dreamed of and would never, ever have: a child held by her father. I am looking forward to this more than anything else.