As much as the anxiety is always in the background, I have let myself attach to this baby more. I didn't realise how much I had pulled back emotionally once I started bleeding, but now I'm taking some time to enjoy it all. At least once a day I rest, stay still and let myself think about what a miracle this whole process is. Try to tune in to the concept that there really is a living person inside me, that my body is doing these amazing things. Because I'm overweight I can feel a different kind of rounding in my belly, but it isn't obvious to look at. If it wasn't for the ultrasounds each visit to my obstetrician (I'm lucky enough to have an Ob. who has an old machine in her room and uses it to check for heartbeat and brief glimpse each appointment), it would be easy to believe this was a dream. Dare I mention that I think I may have felt the baby move today? It may just have been indigestion, but it felt different. Mind you, everything feels slightly weird when pregnant. I have no interest in food (so unlike me it's not funny), my digestive system does weird things and other issues I'll leave unspoken for your own good.
Mostly, at the moment, I'm doing a lot of thinking about the kind of parenting I want to practice, the aspects of various movements I agree/disagree with etc. One area I'm hoping will be less of an issue than it is for most new-parent partnerships is division of labour. I'm under no misapprehension that, given I'm determined to breastfeed, much of the practical feeding/night waking/primary care role will be mine for quite some time. In terms of the household labour and domestic tasks in our home are primarily taken care of by my partner already; washing, cooking dinner, day-to-day cleaning... he's already responsible for the lion's share of these. I'd estimate he does around 75% of the domestic care around the house when he is home (he travels two weeks a month for work). We're also already in the position where I'm only working part-time (and from home), so I won't have to adjust to the non 9-5 lifestyle.
Want to have written evidence to point me back to and laugh over? Here are the aims I've already begun to formulate for our parenting journey:
- Both partners to be able to act as primary caregiver. I want both of us to be able to know how to pack a nappy bag, how to settle bubble baby to sleep or to find our own routines and habits. I know I can be a control freak, and I don't want to find myself in that trap where you are so determined to do/be the best parent you can be that you don't give your partner the space to find their own rhythm, and in turn trap yourself into the role of becoming the leader, and the other parent 'helping' when you let them, or tell them what to do and how to do it.
- Learn how to stand our ground on our own parenting decisions. My partner and I love our families very much. We both have positive relationships with the corresponding in-laws (some days I swear my Mum likes Himself more than she likes me). Unfortunately I think we both suffer from wanting to please them too much. While they are far from meddling, I think we ourselves worry too much about what they will think, and we find it hard to stand our ground when we know it will conflict with their ideas or methods. This is why we're not discussing baby names with anyone, and partly why we won't find out the sex of the baby. I don't want to be swayed by anyone.
- Be a supportive, non-judgemental mother. I don't want to play Mummy Wars. I don't want to judge other women for their parenting choices. I want to accept other people's choices, just the way I want mine supported by them. This one won't be easy for me. I often have strong opinions and I while I try to be open to other people's ideas raising kids is one of the most contentious areas and I've seen firsthand the destruction that comes from letting your differing parenting ideals come between you and a friend.
- Not to take the easy road just because it's easier. I'm a passionate environmentalist, and a passionate feminist. Whether I raise a boy or a girl, have a difficult baby or an easy one, I don't want to give up my principles because it gets harder to stick by them. I'm sure there will be days where disposables are easier than cloth, where it's easier to smile and ignore another adult telling my child that only girls play with dolls and when I'm too tired to cook organic, nutritious meals instead of ordering takeaway. That doesn't mean I give up and just live with a 'whatever' attitude. There are more eco-friendly disposables to fall back on, I can avoid an argument with other adults about the engendering of children through toys but make sure I foster the opportunity to participate in all kinds of play for my own child, and if I've been feeding my child a healthy balanced diet and occasional meal of crap isn't going to harm them.