“You’ll miss your pregnant belly when it’s gone” is a sentiment I’ve heard from countless people recently. This is usually followed by the explanation, “You’ll miss the feeling of having them safe with you all the time.” As my days of pregnancy are winding to an end, this initially feels like a ridiculous statement. I am more than ready to be done being pregnant and ready to hold a baby in my arms. But, the more I think about it, I begin to realize, they may be right.
Pregnancy is an amazing feat. It is almost mind-boggling that you can grow and sustain a life inside of you. The most amazing thing is, every pregnancy may be similar, but they’re all completely unique. Every feeling and experience is unique to the woman and the baby alone. Even multiple pregnancies for the same woman will be felt a little differently. You form this unbreakable bond with your baby before they’ve left the womb. I can share that feeling with people around me.
My husband will often place his hands on my moving belly and talk to the baby. Yet, it’s not the same. He can’t feel what I’m feeling inside of my body. He doesn’t know the schedule as well as I do. He doesn’t know when our son is being extra active or when he’s awake or asleep. He doesn’t recognize the patterns like I do. I can often poke him and he’ll eventually kick back, like our own secret code. I realize this is our special way to bond before he even gets here. I’m able to keep him safe in this little cocoon, away from any harms of the world. All it takes is a little kick, kick, kick, and it’s like he knows I’m keeping him safe and he’s acknowledging that. He’s letting me know he’s OK in there.
I don’t know when I’ll start missing this feeling—this security that I can keep my son safe with me and out of harm’s way. Maybe it will be right away, as I navigate new motherhood, on the days when he won’t eat or sleep or stop crying, when I feel utterly helpless, when I’m trying to keep him from getting sick from the throngs of people around hm. Maybe then I’ll wish he were back in the womb, where I know he’s getting the nutrients he needs, where I know I can easily lull him to sleep, when I feel like I have some control over the situation and can avoid the sick people a little easier.
Maybe it won’t come right away. Maybe it’ll be when he’s a little older, when he’s making friends and his feelings get hurt, or worse, when someone doesn’t want to be his friend. Maybe it’ll be when he feels his first rejection from something, maybe when he tries so hard to do something and fails. Even as I bring him comfort and support, maybe then I’ll wish him back to the womb. To shield him from feelings of loneliness, hurt, rejection and anger. Maybe then I’ll wish him back to the cocoon where he only has to feel acceptance and understanding.
It may be when he realizes the world is not as innocent as it seems, when he unfortunately realizes the injustices around us like war, crime and poverty, when he has to learn that not all people are good and some are filled with hate. Even if I teach him to find the good, to overcome hate with kindness and love, to help those in need, maybe I’ll still wish him back, as sometimes the hate feels too great a burden. The injustices feel too many and the good feels too few. Maybe then I’ll wish I can bring him back inside, so he never has to witness it, back in the womb where he is safe from the injustices, safe from ever learning hate and only knowing unconditional love.
I may miss my pregnant belly much later. Maybe it won’t be until puberty and into his teenage years when he is still trying to figure out his hormones and all these new feelings, when he is feeling peer pressure and wants to fit in, when he wants to start dating and just be with his friends, when he will inevitably pick them over me, when he may even try to push me away so he can be his own person and find his own way. That may be when I miss it the most, when our special bond feels almost broken, even if it just a passing feeling. Maybe then I’ll wish it were just the two of us, when I knew his every want and need, safe in our own little bubble, when the special bond feels so strong and unbreakable that nothing can get in our way.
The truth is, it may be all of these moments and a lot more. Even as I’m counting the days until his arrival, I already know everything will change right away. In some ways, it’ll be better. In some ways, I’ll want it to be exactly how it is right now, when I can hold my belly and feel his little kicks. He is as safe as he can be from sickness, pain, hatred and uncertainty. All he knows right now is love, acceptance and security. I’ll do my best to always make him feel this way, but I can’t shield him from the inevitabilities of life. The best I can do is help him through all of it.
But for now, I’ll hold on to this feeing for a little longer, this feeling that I can protect him always. I know I will miss this feeling of security. So, I’m going to embrace my belly for what it symbolizes just a little longer. I’ll gladly keep him in his cocoon just a bit longer and his kick, kick, kick will remind me that both us of us are doing OK.