In my other life I am blooming.
In my other life, I had my baby shower last week. There were cakes and there was pizza, and we joked about Pizza Baby (whose gender and secret name we know now) and how he’s going to have to wear pizza themed clothing for most of his young life.
People give up their seats on the tube for me. My coat doesn’t do up any more and there’s no need for me to wear the Baby on Board badge because it’s obvious I’m gestating a human rather than chubby. I feel annoyed at how big my boobs have become but T says he likes it, and who am I to argue. My girlfriends let me into their special club, because I’m about to be One Of Them.
I’m worried about the birth, of course. I’m worried that PB will come along without the chance to have a caesarian because, truth be told, I don’t feel like I could cope with childbirth. But what will be will be. I worry that something will go wrong with the birth because I’ve waited so long for this baby, and my body has taken so long to right itself and do what everyone else seems to do without thinking about it.
My parents are on tenterhooks waiting for The Call. I am my mum’s firstborn, after all, even though I wasn’t born from her, that’s what she calls me. She cried when I told them I was pregnant. She thought we were “taking our time”. I know they worried for me and want this for me. Even though my brother, their biological child got there first. They know something of the pain of infertility, my parents. It took them many years before they adopted me and sibling #2, and by the time they had their bio children they had given up hope. So they know, and they are desperately happy for me.
And somehow it means something different for me, who doesn’t have a genetic heritage that I know of, other than a mismatch between my understanding of my adopted culture and the gaps in my understanding of my birth culture, the one that matches my appearance and makes people do a double take when they hear me speaking perfect English.
And for T and me, we are excited to move to this new chapter. I worry that Dog won’t get enough attention, that he’s used to being King of the Humans, but T tells me it won’t change how I baby him. I do baby him. He’s my first baby, and he’s not a substitute for a human baby – he’s much more furry, for a start. I really can’t imagine loving a baby more than Dog, but it’s not a competition and I think the heart expands to find room and even if I love my baby half as much as I love Dog, he’ll have more love than he knows what to do with. I’m sure I’ll love them equally in quantity, but differently… The same way as I love T and Dog.
I’m on autopilot at work. Everyone knows now. I’m now One Of Them, the women who leave and never come back quite as whole in the work sense. The pressure comes off a little bit and yet – and yet I know some of my childless female colleagues envy me that. Not having to fight that fight any more. The knowledge that I’m doing something greater than all of it… That I’m doing what those men can’t do. I’m on desk rest for a while. It’s nice enough. The girls at work are solicitous and we chat in the bathroom about names, and buggies and working from home and how long I’m going to be away for.
I can’t quite believe it’s happening. Truly, it’s always been someone else and not me. Always the Aunty, never the Mum. It’s my turn! I’m exhilarated and scared at the same time. I know I’m going to be sleep deprived and vomit covered and cross at T for going back to adult life and escaping it. But I also know that this is a life changer. We are no longer Us, and yet we are Us… It’s just that Us is four now, a balanced family unit.
For us adopted ones, it’s kind of mind boggling to think about. PB is the first person I’ll ever have known who is genetically related to me. I “knew” my first mother for ten days until I went to live with my new parents, the only ones I can remember. And I don’t spend vast quantities of time thinking about it but I do think in passing that 38 is a lot of years before meeting someone who looks a bit like you. (Not counting all the ones at work who are conflated in white men’s minds, because we apparently “all look the same”. The ones I can’t really speak with because they know I’m British; I’m not one of them. I can’t speak their language: the language of belonging.)
I don’t tell all this to PB. I heard he can hear me so I tell him about Dog and how much his older fur brother is going to lick him. I tell him that mama and papa (or whatever we decide to call ourselves) are looking forward to meeting him. Although, truth be told, he does look a bit funny on the 4D ultrasound I insisted on getting privately. I’m hoping that’s tech rather than being quite as weird looking. We know we will think he’s the best looking baby ever, when it’s more likely he looks like a potato.
Our apartment is not at all ready. We have somewhere for him to sleep and somewhere to change him but other than that, we are woefully underprepared. We will muddle along like all new parents do. I umm and aww about Facebook posting, knowing how much it wounded me during the long years of infertility. I decide that we’ll maybe do one announcement, but not be like those people who ban their friends from taking photos. We want our friends to think he’s as cool as we do.
I wonder if he’ll come by his due date? Only a week to wait. We can have curry. We can do those things people do to help the baby arrive. We’re almost there. These are the last days of this identity.
I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. We are ready to be parents.
In my other life.
(PB: “Pizza Baby” was the result of our first IVF cycle and 10+ years of infertility without a natural pregnancy. At 2 weeks, my first ever positive pregnancy test. At 6 weeks we saw a heartbeat. At 7, a heartbeat but slow growth. At 8, no heartbeat. I miscarried “him” between 9-10 weeks. PB was due next week.)