About six-and-a-half years ago, a peculiar bulge developed around my middle. It was intimately related to my ever-growing baby bump; my first womb resident, already determinedly particular, had decided to renovate. Through a series of pushes and stretches, nudges and shoves -- along with several blows to the navel that had me wishing I'd never seen Alien -- she made herself an addition in my abdomen, visibly to the right of centre, and settled in for the remainder of the pregnancy. Perhaps her placenta was invading her personal space. Maybe she just wanted to nest, Pussyfoot-style, in order to make the place more her own. I'm just glad she found the real exit when the time came to move out.
My abdomen did eventually return to normal, only to round to the right again midway through carrying my boy. Sure enough, my son had found his sister's addition like a butt-groove in a well-worn couch and settled right in. He's been coveting her favourites ever since. Despite her efforts to convince him that certain items/colours are "just for girls", he hasn't bought it. Were the given item/colour not superior, then why would she insist on always having it? Thankfully, my girl has switched tactics: upping her sell-job on second favourites so that they don't sound like second best. It works well enough to convince them to at least take turns until he develops some more preferences of his own. It's bound to happen eventually. In the meantime, sharing is an important skill, especially for one who is moving up the birth order from "baby" to "middle".
It just so happens that my baby bump is back again, and still veering off of centre. It's been a subtle swelling, an asymmetry visible only to myself; and then solely when I'm gazing down my nose towards my navel. It made it's appearance early this time around, making room in anticipation of the littlest Friesen, who's still swimming too low to fill it. Time will tell if this baby will accept the status-quo or go on to carve out another abdominal alcove. I'm not about to make any predictions.
Pregnancy is a curious thing. It's a time of growth and change and adaptation; mentally and emotionally as much as physically. I'm adjusting my wardrobe and improving my diet while reassigning bedrooms and car seats. My ligaments are loosening, and so are my plans for "once the kids are in school." We've been surprised before, but "looks like we're starting already" does feel a bit different than "looks like we're not quite done." There's a certain amount of hubris involved in family planning: you can try conceive, you can try not to conceive, but there are no guarantees on if - or when - you'll succeed. Babies come early, or late, or not at all, and we're left to swing with the punches. I'm choosing to swing towards wonder.
I'm marvelling at this timing I hadn't chosen. Three children all close enough in age to play well together, but not so close as to have more than one baby at once. After watching friends handle three kids under three years of age, three under the age of seven doesn't seem so scary. I'll admit, the idea of handling January's school mornings after nights of interrupted sleep is looking pretty daunting, but having a first-grader and a preschooler will mean less hours of being outnumbered, and more capable help for the hours when I am. My daughter has mastered pouring dry cereal and is moving on to milk jugs. My son can open the fridge and help himself to a yogurt cup. Breakfast and snacks are no longer all on me. The light is glimmering at the end of the Mommy Tunnel, and my eldest's budding self-reliance is worth the extra mental taxation six-year-olds bring.
The fledgling midwifery program I've been eying has been hit with a curve-ball of government-mandated administrative stream-lining. The re-organization should help with transfer credits in the long-run, but, in the short-term, I'm glad I'll be putting off my formal studies for a few more years. In the meantime, I now have an excellent excuse to do some more informal learning: I have a seasoned midwife's brain to pick at each prenatal appointment, and a built-in excuse to hang out at Edmonton's new, first, and only birth centre. I've only done this route of maternity care once before, and it's wonderful to get to do it all again - and at a location that isn't 30 minutes out of town. One of my midwives was also a late career bloomer; she became a midwife at the age of forty after having seven children of her own. She's been a great encouragement of how dreams can be built on slowly, and excellent proof that a life well-lived doesn't need to be all in order by the age of twenty-five.
What's more, my husband and I were honoured with a baby god-daughter earlier this year. It's a great responsibility in the long run, but for now it mostly means prayers, and presents, and being a baby-hog at Sunday Liturgy. Spending time holding her has reminded me of all the good parts of having a baby: the coos and the cuddles, the wide-eyed fascination with an ever-growing world, the exponential growth and change that happens in terms of days and weeks rather than months and years. It's a good balance for not-so-lovely parts that I'm currently glad not to be doing, and a refresher course in baby-holding and reading baby cues.
Had I managed to plan all this to happen upon the advent of getting pregnant, I'd be pretty impressed with myself. As it is, it helps to see the mountains of blessings surrounding us as we navigate this unexpected bend in the road. I'm enjoying the ride, asymmetrical bump and all. And my heart is expanding along with my middle, as it, too, makes room for one more.
P.S. In case you're wondering, that Alien link doesn't lead to the real thing. It's the Alien spoof scene from Spaceballs, which is about as close and as gross as I want to get right now. Because I'm pregnant ;)