Pregnancy is a very weird and wonderful time and pregnant women are a very unique group of humans. In today’s modern world, there are apps for everything and you can be sure that there are a plethora of apps for the woman who is pregnant.
These apps will tell you what type of fruit or vegetable your baby most closely resembles that week: a pear, an avocado, a sweet potato. They will tell you how best to exercise, give you tips on nutrition and health, explain to you what to expect in antenatal care and labour, the list goes on, and on…. and on.
In each of these apps and websites, there are community forums, full of expectant mothers who share their joys, discomforts, fears and excitements with each other. These boards are a minefield of abbreviations, acronyms and short forms, which to the outside eye seem like words in a foreign tongue. Apparently, writing about pregnancy and birth needs its own language.
But in the midst of the confusing abbreviations, the questions about what foods are and are not safe to eat and the abundance of ultrasound photos is one resoundingly common statement…. So many to-be-mothers express an immense amount of love for their unborn baby. Oozing statements of profound love, being in love, feeling overcome with love. It’s like everyone is on their first date with the love of their life and texting through it for all to read.
This was a bit concerning for me at first as I didn’t connect at all to these sentiments. Was there something I should be doing to better connect with my baby? I just did not feel this sense of profound love, and I still don’t.
I wholeheartedly love the idea of my unborn baby. I love that in November, a tiny human will join our little family. I love that there is a small life growing inside of me. I love that I am in the process of becoming a Mama, that a dramatic shift in my identity as a woman is only a number of weeks away.
But right now, at this 20th week of my pregnancy, half way through, that is all there really is to love. It is still abstract, it is still disconnected, it is still only an idea.
There is nothing tangible for me to love. I am only just beginning to feel the flutters of the baby’s movement. A weird and wonderful sensation that is a bit like a fish swimming around in the lower part of your abdomen and bumping up against the fishbowl. It is thoroughly exciting and of course, makes the pregnancy feel just that little bit more real. But does this fish swimming tiny human conjure up love in me?
I have seen the baby through the wonders of ultrasound technology, as a tiny bean with a fluttering heartbeat and as a fetus fully formed and kicking away. Truly remarkable and awe-inspiring. Seeing those images cemented in me the idea that I would actually have a baby at the end of 9 months and not just a bigger tummy.
But are these feelings I am experiencing love? I really don’t think so. At this point, I have absolutely zero knowledge of this little life. Who is he or she? What kind of a little person are they? What do they look like? What will they smell like? What kind of things will they love?
It is a bit like the bride of an arranged marriage saying she loves her fiancé before they have ever met. Maybe you love the idea of your fiancé, the fact that you will marry and all that will bring, but you cannot yet love him, not without knowing him first.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will love my baby. In fact, I’m already afraid of the heart wrenching that will happen when he or she is first laid on my chest. I am sure I will be torn open, loving that little human in a way that is all new to me.
But for now I wait to love this baby. I settle for loving the idea and loving the transformation of both of us that is underway. I wait for the moment my heart is wrenched open. I wait to smell their smell, to see their face, to know their touch. I wait to see their characteristics emerge and to discover who they are once they are here and on the outside. I wait, in a beautiful anticipation of all that this relationship will be and become. But right now, at 20 weeks, I cannot yet say this is love. Right now, it is much more clearly hope, a deep and tangible hope of what is to come.