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January 31, 2008

My Macho Pregnancy

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I've been told that all of these changes have a higher purpose. They turn your focus from outward to inward, creating a closed world where only you, your baby, and the bond between the two of you matters. And I am beginning to recognize not just the evolutionary value of this design, but how it can be a lovely and liberating thing. Work is losing its sense of urgency. Finding some fine-looking onesies suddenly seems like a matter of top importance, particularly if they feature cars or trucks. The other day, as I was rubbing my belly, I realized I'd unconsciously developed a modest vaudeville routine with my unborn son: He'd kick and I'd rub back, and he'd kick again and I'd rub back again, each of us telling knock-knock jokes from our own sides of the door. Knock knock, knock knock.... And I really do wonder who's there. I have no idea who this person is that I'm carrying.

But in the meantime, there will be four more weeks of pregnancy to get through — weeks during which my hip joints will scrape, my feet will swell, and the real estate currently occupied by my stomach will shrink to a plot so small I'll be forced to eat and drink in separate shifts. I'll spend my days lurching between a fugue state and one of utter disgust, wishing the baby were out, and that reaction will be mirrored in the faces of loved ones and strangers alike, who will look on in a kind of terrified awe, watching as I burst to the breaking point, carrying a 10-pound turkey in a two-quart pan. Never mind that billions of women do this the world over. Pregnancy, in the end, illuminates the double meaning embedded in the word extraordinary, an event both beyond ordinary and exceedingly banal. Something about the sight of a massively pregnant woman both reassures and terrifies, conjuring up pictures of beatific Madonnas and monsters in Bosch paintings, of Venuses and creatures in horror films (The call is coming from inside the house!).

But then, in the end — my son. The very thought of meeting him makes me cry. I hope he'll appreciate tough women. I hope he'll have a feminine streak himself. And I hope, one day, I can thank him for finally introducing me to my inner girl, the one who was clearly there all along but until this moment never managed to rear her head. I secretly hope she sticks around. And I suspect I'll continue to like her.

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