[Deliberately absurd hyperbole ahead. I kind of feel like I shouldn't have to give this disclaimer, but people always get worried when I go all exaggerated in these posts. There is, alas, some truth in all of it; the competitive pressures of pregnancy and childbirth and motherhood are not things I have in any way made up.]
Q: Are you still pregnant?
A: Yes. And yes, they will probably have to induce; and yes, everyone knows that medically-induced childbirth is nightmarishly, infamously painful, so I'll probably need an epidural; and yes, everyone knows that one intervention always leads to another, so I'll probably end up getting a c-section; and yes, I will have completely failed at childbirth; and yes, it's my own fault because I first failed at pregnancy by not having a doula or not quitting my job or not dropping $100 a week on prenatal spa treatments or not somehow managing it so my dog didn't get cancer or not going to the famous hospital or not having a homebirth or not running marathons or not doing WHATEVER IT IS YOU THINK I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING INSTEAD OF LIVING MY LIFE WHILE HAPPENING TO BE PREGNANT.
Q:...um, when did you decide that gestating the full 40 weeks (which you won't even have done until Thursday) would be a failure?
A: Maybe when people started shrieking in horror and pity upon hearing the projected birth weight, which made me convince myself that my only chance at doing this naturally would have been if I went into labor two and a half weeks ago. Never mind that a) birth weights estimated from ultrasounds are notoriously inaccurate and b) said projected birth weight was, tops, eight pounds. Not exactly unheard-of.
Or maybe when I realized that everyone knows that real women get to just decide when they want to go into labor, because they are so magnificently connected to their bodies and they love being pregnant and they feel their most strong and beautiful at 39 weeks along. I felt strong back when I was strong, not when I haven't been able to do anything more energetic than prenatal yoga for nine months and am toting around 40 extra pounds. So clearly I have the wrong attitude about this whole experience and about my body in general, by preferring it when it is active and limber and muscular.
Q: Well, you've got the wrong attitude about something, yeah.
A: SHUT UP.
Q: And you do know that you would have decided it was a failure if you gave birth early, too, right?
A: Yes, I do have enough self-awareness for that.
Q: Forty pounds? Really?
A: Yup. I'm okay with the thirty pounds on my belly and butt and thighs. The ten pounds which have taken up residence on my neck and jawline are another story, and that story is written completely in obscenities.
Q: How badly does the "women's bodies are designed to do this [give birth]" trope make you want to vomit?
A: Let's put it this way: my body was "designed" to be dying of cancer right about now, and it's thanks to major medical intervention three years ago that I'm alive and kicking and enormously pregnant. I do want to have faith that my body can handle this, because it's tough and stubborn, but seriously, do not get up in my six extra chins with the concept that childbirth is so beautiful and natural and the sole thing my body's wanted to do all these years, and only women who are hopelessly brainwashed and/or can't stand up to their evil doctors get interventions! No exceptions for placenta previa or pre-eclampsia or breech babies or anything! (We will not even speak of what this trope is implying about women who choose not to or cannot get pregnant.)
Q: Speaking of Things Real Women Do At Which You Fail, how's your nesting coming along? The house is clean to the corners and beautifully arranged for baby's arrival, right?
A: I made my husband give the dog a bath, which, of course, made the bathtub even more filthy. Then I consolidated three piles of unexamined paper on the kitchen table into one unexamined pile. Then I had to sit down for a while.
Q: Have you been reading?
A: I have been reading!
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh. I had read about half of this already, since I've followed Brosh's website for a while now, but the new pieces were really fantastic. She writes about depression and dogs, mostly, and is hilarious.
The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin. Slow-moving and pretentious and really, really beautiful.
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore. This book is just amazing. Lepore manages to write a biography of Benjamin Franklin's younger sister from very little documentation, and it's touching and fascinating and infuriating (infuriating because of Jane's obvious intelligence and potential, and how that potential was virtually impossible for a woman of that time to realize, even if she didn't have twelve children). I recommend this book very highly.
Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants, by Alison Maloney. Meh, pretty boring.
The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride. A novel about a black adolescent who ends up traveling with John Brown throughout his last couple years. It took me forever to finish and I don't quite know why, because I liked it a lot. I will definitely be reading more by McBride.
The Cure of Souls, by Phil Rickman. A sort-of mystery where the twist is that our heroine is a priest and exorcist. Interesting potential but nothing about this book ever quite clicked for me. It's part of a series, and I don't think I'll be reading any more of them.
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal. De Waal documents the history of his family's wealth, art collection, and persecution at the hands of the Nazis. He is primarily tracking a series of netsuke through the centuries, mostly because they were the only artworks which the family managed to retain after WWII. (I won't spoil how they were saved, because it's pretty awesome.) I couldn't decide what I thought of de Waal's writing style or his blasé acceptance of his family's (pre-war) astronomical wealth, and it took me a while to settle into the book. But I did like it once I'd settled in.
Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality, by Jonathan Weiner. Solid and captivating science reporting, even if it ends up being mostly about one extremely eccentric guy in the field. I liked this book a lot.
I'd like to say that my next dispatch will be post-baby, but there is no guarantee of that. They aren't going to let me go to 41 weeks, so there will presumably be a child one way or another before the 24th. Wait a minute... I could be like this for EIGHT MORE DAYS? I could sit around at home (today having been my last day at work) for EIGHT DAYS brooding on my inability to go into labor naturally? Aw, geez. In that case, my next dispatch may be about the amazingly bad things you can find on Netflix when you're trying to distract yourself. We shall see.