Despite my “decision,” I wanted to keep my options open. I looked into what being a single mother would entail – what I would need to buy, what my expenses would be. I had a fairly decent savings built up from my last job, and I was prepared to use it.
From my journal:
“Good grief, you're a mover. Aren't you supposed to sleep in there on occasion? Give Mommy a rest?
I don't much care. I love knowing you're happy (I've decided they're happy kicks). I know you're warm and safe and cared-for as long as you're where you are.”
The baby discovered my ribs, and her little feet were almost always digging in. I tried pushing them away; she pushed back. It was uncomfortable but delightful at the same time. My emotions weren’t so cut-and-dry. I wrote in my journal: “I've felt weird today. Like I didn't want to keep you. It scares me. Especially because when I thought about, ok, say I don't keep you, it freaked me out. I'm hoping this is just some normal hormonal thing. Because I do want you. I want you more than I've wanted anything in my life. I love you so much already.”
My mixed feelings scared me. On the one hand, I did not want to give my baby up. I felt that, if I did, I would have nothing left. But every so often I found myself thinking that I really didn’t want to be a mom just yet. I felt selfish and awful and disloyal for thinking so. But I missed my antidepressants. I’d been taking them for 10 years before I got pregnant, and had to drop them all cold turkey when I found out I was expecting. My brain really noticed the absence, and it wasn’t happy. I told myself that having a baby would give me a bit more stability and routine, and that that would help.
I had strange dreams. I dreamed my baby was born a boy, and I was disappointed. I dreamed that I kept losing track of my baby, and when I tried to feed him (she came out a he again), he suckled weakly for a few seconds and then stopped and gave me a reproving stare. I worried that he would starve, and people around me told me that if they were his parents, he’d be eating normally. They were awful dreams. I tried to remind myself that they were only dreams, that my baby was indeed a girl, and that she would certainly eat when she was hungry.
All the pregnancy books said that crazy dreams were normal, which helped me feel a little better. The books also suggested putting together a birth plan. I found a fill-in-the-blank birth plan on-line and printed it out. It was six pages long, and I was quickly overwhelmed. There were too many things on it that I didn’t want to think about. All I really wanted was to get my baby out with as little pain as possible, and if the doctor needed to do something to help get her out, the doctor could do that. I wrote that on an index card and tucked it away to take with me to the hospital.
Braxton-Hicks contractions started up every now and then. It was getting harder and harder to sit comfortably. When I did sit, I had fun watching my belly roll around and wiggle as little hands and feet poked around. I watched American Idol that year, and I noticed that the baby seemed to dance a bit more when Danny was singing. I got a kick out of that, since he was my favorite.
I scheduled a 3D ultrasound for the last day of the month. There was a coupon in the Money Mailer, and my mother thought I deserved a special sort of thing like that. I so looked forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see my baby’s teeny-tiny little nose again, and get a better look at her face, and see if she smiled or sucked her thumb, and get a sense of what sort of little person she was.
The receptionist told me the ultrasound rooms could seat 8 friends and family members. I cried about that on and off. Because I didn’t have anyone – I went to my doctor’s appointments by myself, I got excited about the baby by myself. I hated feeling so alone. I knew it was my own fault for doing things wrong. But that didn’t make it any easier to take. I felt lonely and isolated and unloved, and I hated it. I wondered if my depression would be passed on to my baby.
“What am I going to do with you?” I wrote in my journal. “I wish I knew. I want to keep you. I think I will. But I want what's best for you, what's right for you. It's got to be best for a little girl to be with her mommy, right? Surely I'm the one who will take the best care of you.” Surely, I thought, I could understand her best, relate to her problems. Care about her more than anyone else ever could.
Despite feeling a bit alone, my 3D ultrasound was a wonderful experience. It was absolutely amazing! My little girl’s hands were up by her face the whole time. She had long fingers and toes, which I could see clearly as both feet were up by (and sometimes in) her face. I watched in awe as the baby in my belly grabbed hold of her tiny toes. It was go cool to feel her move and see it at the same time. And she moved, and moved. The poor ultrasound technician had to keep moving the little wand around to keep the baby from hiding her face.
I was enchanted, absolutely bewitched. My baby had the cutest, tiniest little nose, and my family’s trademark chin, and beautiful full lips. She was absolutely perfect. I watched, transfixed, as my baby tugged on her toes and rubbed her eyes and flexed her fingers and made funny faces. It was pure awesomeness. I was disappointed when my time was up. I was sent home with a picture CD, a DVD of the entire ultrasound, and handfuls of pictures printed out. I quickly found my favorites and looked at them the most. I loved knowing what my baby’s face looked like – that she had my chin and long fingers, and that she had such long eyelashes (they were clearly visible on the scan!), and that she had my wide, flat feet with chubby toes.
I rubbed my belly with renewed vigor. My baby felt more like a real person than she ever had. I talked to her more. Having seen her face, I felt a deeper connection. When I felt her sneeze or hiccup, I could picture what she looked like at the time, the tiny nose wrinkling, wee little fists clenching. It was magical. I wished I could have had a 3D ultrasound every day.