"You're 12 weeks", reads the chipper little text next to the star designed to grab my attention. "Take a bumpie!"
I am twelve weeks pregnant and this is the eighth time I have gotten the same chirpy little suggestion. "Document your pregnancy!" "Show off your changing body!"
Here's the thing: I don't want to take a picture of my belly, which at a little over a hundred kilograms does not lend itself well to documenting the evolution of something roughly the size of a kumquat (have you ever seen a kumquat? Because all I know is that it's about the size of Tiny Gotham right now). It's not any different than it was twelve weeks ago, because all the changing and growing is taking place inside my pelvic girdle.
And I hate the way I look in pictures.
This isn't my first baby: I know from experience that empire waists make my specialty-shop bustline look even more awkward, that at 30 weeks I am going to be still fielding "but you're barely showing" while I hold my breath to put on my shoes, that the nausea and fatigue and terrible heartburn I am feeling now will fade, only to be replaced by nausea and even worse heartburn if I stray from a carefully constructed diet because I know, on my third round, that I will have gestational diabetes and I will crave ice cream and I will hate being pregnant as much as I enjoy the fact that I am able to make a human being inside me, like some sort of living 3D printer.
But I'm still overweight, and now I am over 35, so I'm going to be an obese elderly multigravida with a history of gestational diabetes and a ten pound delivery in my past, and I don't know if I want to celebrate all of that. I don't know if I want to celebrate having my innards rearranged and my sleep disrupted; the daunting task of finding a nursing bra and a sleeping bra that fit; the impending dance of foot and fist and head and bladder and bowel that inevitably results in me being the losing party.
I'm a selfish pregnant woman: I don't like being uncomfortable and inconvenienced. I don't like having to prepare for the possibility that I can be explaining to someone why their baby is having trouble breathing while trying to stay on my feet as black sparks start to swim through my vision. I don't like falling asleep at 9 PM because I am spending all my energy gestating. And I don't like the strange alien feeling that I am a duality of people. But I like my kids. And I like babies, especially when they're mine.
We planned this baby; we debated the concerns with going off my medications and arranging for leave and managing my diet. We thought about it for quite a while before we decided it was something we wanted. And I want it. I'm happy that everything is going smoothly and I quietly panic every time something in my belly goes zing, even when I know it can't be related. I keep toying with the handheld doppler in the office and thinking about trying to listen to see if the baby is really in there. But I don't care for being pregnant.
When I was pregnant with my first child, everyone told me that I would feel something I had never felt before when I first looked at her face. I was told I could never prepare for the rush of emotion, for the sudden outpouring of pure joy and love, for the bond that would connect me with my baby forever. I got the miracle line and the wonderful line. I got the best thing ever line.
My mother was more prosaic. "I think," she said, "The first thing I said when I saw you was 'ugh'."
I didn't say 'ugh' but I did have to check with my fellow resident. "She's cute, right? She's not an ugly baby?" Because I thought the baby was pretty cute -- and I'd seen a few by that point -- but I was waiting for the bang kapow of mother love to hit me, and I didn't feel it.
She's eight years old now and I still never felt it. I spent a long time trying to figure out what was wrong with me, that I liked my baby, even loved my baby, without being overwhelmed or awestruck or taken by surprise. That I didn't have the sudden urge to do anything but catch the first good breath I'd had in months. So I asked my dad, who knows about things.
"Nah," he said. "That's just the way we are."
I'm an obese elderly multigravida. I don't want to take a picture of my belly at twelve weeks. It looks like my belly did before I got pregnant, and I didn't like it then. Maybe I'll take one next week. Maybe not.
That's just the way I am.