I have a gut feeling that she might come a little bit early, and that some of the early pre-labor stuff that can go on for weeks is starting up. Next week is week 36, one week from what's considered full term. Doctors will only let you go overdue by about ten days, so it's a sure thing that somewhere in the next two to six weeks, we're having a baby.
Right now, my emotional state is colored by a sort of pre-nostalgia for our non-parental life. This isn't sadness exactly, or even wistfulness - it's just a very real sense that something is ending, something is passing away. Being a sentimental sap, I feel sort of a golden haze surrounding certain moments - long car rides with Brett, reading in bed, quiet mornings with no sense of urgency, meals at restaurants where it's just us. (I'd add sleep, but it's so many months since I've slept well that this is already a distant memory. Which is probably just as well.)
This is all ending. What will take its place will be wonderful, no doubt, but a portion of my life is completely over. I wouldn't call it mourning, because what's coming will be equally good or (probably) better. But a stage is closing.
Once, years ago, after I'd just moved to Seattle, I was at a festival and had my tarot cards read on a whim. "Your life runs in 9 year cycles," she said to me. "One is starting right now." Oddly enough, when I look back and think about the major phases of my life, this seems pretty much right on the money. The nine years prior to that had involved getting out of college and learning to survive in the adult world, having unwise relationships, and trying to survive my tumultuous twenties. When I met the tarot lady, almost exactly nine years ago, I had just moved to Seattle and entered a phase where everything in my life seemed to shift - a more comfortable, happy stage of adulthood, making great friends, a great job and lots of success at it, travel, finding and marrying the right man. And now, nine years after the tarot reading, I'm about to reset all of my priorities and become a parent. It certainly does seem like a series of doors close and then open on about that timeframe.
I'll miss a few things about being pregnant. For one, it's hard to feel anything bad about your body, at least for me, when it's busy doing incredible stuff like assembling ears and growing neurons and nurturing a whole other life. Regardless of how much weight I've gained (actually, not that much, in spite of all the ice cream), I've found that I kind of like how I look, even here at the end. And yay, Shult/Barlow gene pool - no stretch marks, no varicose veins, none of the big ugly problems that a lot of people get, all of which are 100% genetic. I'm just... large, and my hair looks shiny, and my skin is nice. Not bad. Once the baby is out and I'm left with the pooch and twenty new pounds to lose, that will be much less the case, I realize. But I'm hoping this sense of kindness about my physical self continues. I suspect it will, to some degree; whatever parts of me never look the same again, I'll have Sofia to point at to remember why it was worth it.
Another thing I'll miss is the constant outpouring of good will from the world that seems to materialize when you become visibly pregnant. People I know have never been nicer to me - I get sweet emails at work from people who used to work for me if I miss a day of work, asking if the baby and I are okay; friends offer to get me food when I arrive at the cafeteria so bowled over from hunger that I can hardly stand up; everyone is solicitous and interested and kind. You get presents all the time. :) My parents insist on walking me back across the street when I visit them, and have never been so open with their affection as they have been lately.
And strangers! Wow. I've never gotten more genuine, delighted smiles from total strangers than I have in the last few months. The vast majority of people just seem to love to see pregnant ladies. I've been spared the phenomenon of people coming up and touching my belly, which is nice - I was kind of dreading going through that - but I've had more total strangers inquire about my health, ask if we're having a girl or a boy, or just grin at me intensely. It makes you feel good about the world, insulated from bad things.
I suppose this will continue when I'm walking around with our adorable little baby girl, too - lots of smiles and interest, although more focused on her than me. But that's also probably the point where random strangers will start scolding me for not having a hat on her if there's a breeze, criticizing me if she's crying, or eyeballing me when I sit down next to them in restaurants. Maybe, maybe not. But for now, I feel like I'm cushioned by this wave of goodwill. It's nice.