I was not quite at the end of my pregnancy yet, but according to the doctor, the baby was good to go. Her tray was in the upright position, and the pilot had started her descent. If I sneezed too hard, stood up too fast, or finally indulged in that glass of wine and unpasteurized cheese I’d promised myself, the wheels would be set in motion.
With that, the excitement I’d been feeling switched over into pure, abject, tremble-inducing fear. These are the things that kept me awake (other than my bladder) during the tail end of my third trimester:
1. I Could Literally Give Birth At Any Moment
On a train during rush hour. In an elevator while stuck with a frenemy. During the vows at my cousin’s wedding. Not wanting to be the clichéd mother who accidentally gave birth in the back of a taxi, I decided that for the last three months of my pregnancy, I wouldn’t go anyplace that wouldn’t be super-excited to deliver my baby.
2. I Will Always Be This Heavy
I gained 65 pounds with each pregnancy. As I neared the end, I spent a lot of time staring in the mirror thinking: Is this the new me? Will I always look like this? And most importantly, will I be stuck wearing maternity jeggings forever?
Some women bounce back to their pre-baby shape almost immediately, while a few of us struggle to regain control and lose the weight. The good news is, I lost a quick 10 to 12 pounds just by the removal of the baby and her placental entourage. Gotta start somewhere.
3. I Won’t Be Able to Get Up Off This Couch
Really. Need some help over here. I have to pee, and no amount of leverage or rocking back and forth can launch me into a standing position.
4. I Won’t Know How to Do This
Trying to prepare to be a parent was like reading a book about cars in the hopes of learning how to drive; it’s all good in theory until you actually get behind the wheel. But considering the 24/7 nature of parenting, there was a heck of a lot of time to practice.
5. I Won’t Remember How to Do This
It’s not your first kid. You’ve done it before. It’s like riding a bicycle.
But I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was almost 12, and then my bike was stolen a month later by my neighbor’s stepson!
The truth is, I definitely forgot certain things, like burping the baby after each feeding or what direction the diaper goes on. But after combing baby puke out of my ponytail for the umpteenth time, it finally came back to me.
6. My Doctor Will Be Away When I Go Into Labor
It took me months to find a doctor I was comfortable with who could placate my nonsensical anxieties (“Will prenatal vitamins make me go into pre-term labor? Do babies ever get put back in if they come out too soon?”). Sure enough, when my water broke a week early, my doctor was away at a wedding.
Enter the B-Team, his friend from a neighboring practice who agreed to sub in. Everything went well, although his bedside manner was, to put it nicely, unnerving (“Wow! Your uterus looks like a minefield!”).
7. I Will Never Feel Comfortable Again
As I waddled around in my husband’s hoodie and de-laced sneakers, I begged for someone to knead my ankle capillaries back into place, to hold my swollen midsection while I attempted sleep, and to magically make my heartburn evaporate, my bladder grow, and my lower back less throbby.
All I got was compression socks and a bottle of Tums.
8. Childbirth Will Hurt
As virtually any mother can tell you (except for that smug jerk in your playgroup), there is no pain-free way to give birth. I was told that I would eventually forget the pain, but I never forgot. Sometimes late at night my husband would wake me up, claiming I was moaning, “Aaah, episiotomy!” in my sleep (I’m just kidding. I don’t sleep).
Occasionally I had night terrors about the baby bursting through my abdomen like in Alien, until I realized that was probably less painful than what actually goes down during delivery.
9. Something Bad Could Happen
I had two high-risk pregnancies, and every twinge made me worry it was all going awry. Thinking my water broke, I left work midday and raced to the hospital, only to be told I was just “very sweaty.” Watching my stomach twitch from fetal hiccups, I was convinced the baby’s heartbeat was skyrocketing. I tiptoed around, scared that any trip, bump or fall could somehow harm my future offspring.
My doctor performed an ultrasound at every visit, just so I could see that everything was okay. It seems silly in hindsight, but my irrational fears about all the things I couldn’t control made me latch on to the few things I could.
10. My Baby Will Look Like Steve Buscemi
It could’ve happened. This likelihood would’ve definitely increased if Steve Buscemi was, in fact, the father.
Luckily, almost immediately after my baby was born, all these fears melted away—only to be replaced by much more terrifying ones, like actually being a parent.