My friend Jennifer had a baby Friday. She's been working on this for a long time, or so it seems. In fact, I believe that she has been pregnant since sometime last summer, a period of almost nine months, and, as spring comes back to Chicago, that becomes a very long time to be pregnant. All that hard work and dedication seems to have paid off, both baby and mother are reported to be healthy and happy.
One week ago, in anticipation of soon reuniting with her toes, we went for pedicures. It had been a few months since I last saw her and when she turned the corner, belly leading, I started laughing and could not stop. Pregnant women are funny, especially when the pregnant one is a very tiny woman, now quite hearty in the mid section, only days away from giving birth to her second son. "You are laughing at me? Because you never looked like this?". In fact I did not. Short, round and pregnant with twins, I was convinced that unless I was standing sideways, you couldn't really tell I was pregnant.That I measured full term three months before the children were born was incidental, my complete inability to strap on a seat belt myself, insignificant. Can't everyone rest a plate of Vietnamese noodles on their daughter's head in month eight? Pictures have convinced me that I might have been a little off in my perception.
It used to be, in my more balanced, and well rested days, that baby births were joyous occasions to be noted and celebrated. Showers were thrown, gifts given, and then the charming cherubs were sent home with their doting parents and I was left to return to my life of whine free stability. Not so anymore. Birth announcements make me cry, as do commercials where children are required to do any growing at all. Saturday we had breakfast with friends who recently adopted a baby from India. The pictures they sent out upon returning home safely with Lilly forced at least a 30 minute break from the madness, wherein I sat and decomposed at the computer, completely absorbed by their beautiful new daughter. Six years ago those same pictures, while charming I am sure, would have been promptly deposited in a trash folder, and a gift then dashed off to the happy family, but never delivered in person.
Having children changed me in ways I did not expect. First, my feet are bigger. Second, there was more removed from me than two small babies: taken was my need to actually hear myself think, my ability to completely ignore unknown children at the grocery store and any sort of filter I once had that regulated appropriate places and times to cry. Also damaged in the delivery was my once unyielding indifference to cute babies, as I now think that, in general, all babies are cute. Except those that are sick, I am still quite impervious to children with any sort of visible bodily fluid.
Pregnant women are funny. They waddle unsteadily, they fall (nothing serious), and some find it difficult to turn completely in London hotel showers. Restaurant booths can be challenging as can small European cars. Your friends laugh at you and you are forced to assume, given your current severely restricted view of your feet, that the pedicure woman, who speaks no English at all, has a steady hand. And then just one week later, you have a baby. A beautiful baby boy who will make grown women cry for no reason at all, other than the true wonder of the entire, time consuming, process. Nine months is a long time to be certain, but the lifetime ahead of you is longer still, even if it flies by in an instant.