Sunday in the Park with Waddling Whit (Uxbridge Cosmos Aug. 2013)

A few weeks ago as I was waddling uncomfortably about the park just down the street, scarfing down “beignets” (fancy Toronto timbits) by the handful and scoping out my community’s beautiful little farmer’s market, I ran into an old friend. Well… I suppose she’s more of a friendly acquaintance. When our first-borns were wee, she and I had taken a local Mommy & Me music class together with our sons. She’s a pretty cool chick. She’s smart and driven (a working mom with a very important and demanding financial sector job), she’s fit and athletic (she has those skinny-toned Kelly Rippa arms), she wears nice clothes (pressed, clean and cool but not too effortful, i.e. not a shrunken, second-hand Suzy Shier t-shirt and maternity jeans complete with pureed peach stains) and she is genuinely a nice person.

On this sunny Sunday in June, there she was at the farmer’s market with her husband and son and I noticed her adorably modest baby bump. “How delightful,” I thought to myself. “She’s pregnant too. Though she must be at least a month or so behind me, she looks so small and comfortable.” We took in each other’s condition and exchanged knowing smiles.

“Congratulations! Expecting the second?” I blurted out. “Us too!” And I gestured vaguely to the nearby playground, where my other half was chasing my two-year-old who was eating handfuls of sand. “When are you due?” I asked eagerly, hoping we’d get to trade eye-roll-worthy anecdotes about awful pregnancy symptoms.

“It’ll be in about two weeks actually,” she said with a smile. I nearly choked on my beignet, knowing I was still over two MONTHS from my own due date. What kind of unjust world do we live in when this muscly, well-dressed, clever little woman gets to be teeny-weeny-pregnant and due in two weeks and I get to roll my way around the neighbourhood like an 80-year-old, 500 pound sweaty orangutan with another ten weeks to go?! I paused and for a moment and considered that she must be in intense discomfort, being so close to birth, recalling my own constant practice contractions, back pain, insomnia… and a few other fabulous pregnancy symptoms I dare not mention in polite company.

“Two weeks,” I said sympathetically. “God, you must just be wrecked and so uncomfortable.”

“No, not really,” she replied. “Though I admit, I’ve been having some rib pain in the last couple of weeks. But mostly I’m feeling pretty well.”

It was all I could do to not spit-take my beignet and slap this poor woman in the face (with my non-beignet hand, of course.) RIB PAIN?!!! Frickin’ RIB PAIN?!!! Are you kidding me? I swallowed the list of gory ailments I was compiling quickly in my head to rebut the rib pain complaint. “Oh. That… that must be terrible.”

“Nah, it’s not that bad. So, when are you due?” She smiled sweetly and cocked her head flinging her well-behaved blond hair to one side where it fell perfectly.

“Um. Well, there’s still a couple of months. And a half. To go. It’s not really important.” Awkward pause. “Mm-kay, it was GREAT seeing you and really, congrats and best of luck with this one.” I awkwardly patted their toddler on his head and waddled away toward the playground as fast as my puffy knees would carry me.

I found myself kind of mad at this blameless lady. Admittedly, I had – earlier in the day – cried while watching Shrek, so maybe I wasn’t on my emotional/hormonal game, but why the seething hate? You see, it was a realization, for really-real, that I maybe I was not like other pregnant ladies. So, who am I like? What do I do? What can I expect while I’m expecting, dammit?!

The thing is, no pregnant lady is like another pregnant lady. Just as there are a trillion and one books written about how to baby-whisper your newborn to sleep through the night or how to potty-train your 3 month-old, there are four-times that many websites and books written about what to expect... when you are indeed… expecting. And what is more? Not only is no pregnant lady like another, but each pregnancy of each of those women is different from the last or from those yet to come.

My own “normal” consists of my son being born born ten weeks early. It was a terrifying journey, but he’s just fine now thanks to a bit of luck and a nappy-load of modern medicine. He just turned two and he can read letters. Mostly just uppercase letters and he thinks “I” is a one, but I’m letting that slide for now. This, my second pregnancy has been fraught with its own challenges and ailments but the worst of it has been the overwhelming anxiety of not knowing if this one would come early again or not. Unfortunately, no pregnancy book can tell me that.

So what can I do? First, I can remember all the millions of women in the world who’ve had far more challenging pregnancies than I, and honour that. Second, I can find support in the community that I’ve chosen to surround me: my reassuring midwives and doctor who’ve seen it all; other moms of preemies, who have gone on to have full-term babies; as well as my poor husband who has not only been my soggy Kleenex when I’ve wept, afraid of what might come, but he’s also been my toddler entertainer extraordinaire, keeping monster no. 1 busy while I conk out on the couch in a pile of pillows. I still read the books and websites and see those happy-go-lucky third trimester divas in their stacked heels, but I’m learning to take it all with a grain of salt. And beignets.

Me. In the Park. In my thanksgiving pants.

1 comment

  • dennis hayes
    dennis hayes
    just sayin' hello . . .

    just sayin' hello . . .

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