Monday, September 15, 2008

The hottest curry imaginable couldn't bring you home

Just under two weeks 'til D-day. Although I know first-timers have a habit of turning up fashionably late for their own party, I am particularly, for reasons obvious, hoping Little G will make an early appearance. 'Any time after Monday works for me,' says Mr Green after consulting his hectic diary. Never have my phone calls been returned so expeditiously. Yesterday my mother-in-law not only called back in seconds, she also left a voicemail and text message asking if I was okay. Every time I call Mr Green at work, interrupting any meeting of importance, he answers on the first ring asking if this is the call, which makes me worry that what we are inadvertently creating is a cry wolf situation. Indeed, being so close to my due date has instigated great attentiveness and brushed up interpersonal skills in those around me in the most unlikely way, e.g. impromptu visits from neighbours' giving me their telephone numbers to call 'day or night', thus inspiring a sense of community I wish could last beyond September 27th...

Of course there are some silly endeavours you can try to bring about labour -- spicy food (vindaloo anyone?), penetrative sex (yeah right, a handstand on water would be more apt at this stage), raspberry leaf tea (if fruity teas are your thing; they are not mine but who says I won't reach that level of desperation yet) -- none of which are medically acknowledged but might be a lark to try, especially the nipple stimulation! However, I have a feeling it's more a case of when the baby is ready, the mother will slip into gear. So I've been trying to put a Zen face on, but it's tough even fooling myself. No amount of physical preparation these past few weeks has readied me mentally for what is to come, nor would a few more... Which begs the question: is any woman ever truly ready for the sandblast that is motherhood? Didn't think so.

At tea and cakes last week, we ladies-in-waiting were paid a surprise visit from one of the new moms, a Caesar no less, with hubby and pint-sized daughter in tow. Throughout the visit I sat mouth agape, shell-shocked. Babe, needless to say, was a revelation, the tiniest reminder of the biggest miracle of which our bodies are capable. Yet it was mom and dad, fresh from battle but with not so much as a hint of a limp or scar, that held my fascination. I mean, even the bravest face shows some sign of fissure. But perhaps the surge of love and awe still had these two walking around in the beatific daze of junkies despite their not having slept for more than two consecutive hours a night for the past week. Perhaps that early insomnia has less to do with the baby's disruptive needs than his sheer presence in the room as a mini me. It must be disconcerting to see him at last sitting there staring back at you, this moving breathing incarnation of the love between mommy and daddy. I doubt I will be able to take my eyes off of him for the first few days and wonder how many wails and dirty diapers it will take before the beguiling novelty of his existence dims somewhat. Maybe that is the glory and the tyranny of parenthood -- that it never does. I hope it never does, anyway.

Now that my own turn is coming up (pointless musing, Cher-style, on the merits of turning back time) anxiety is well and truly bottling up the bottleneck. How is it humanly possible to giddily anticipate an event that at the same time scares the living bejesus out of you, that evokes a witless, out-of-your-skin fear? After nearly 40 weeks of playing host to this faceless miniature, I am dying to meet him but equally petrified about the prospect of the next 40 years! What will he make of me? What will I make of him for that matter? How will our little dance carry on outside the womb, when I cannot wilfully pull the wool over his eyes, convincing him that I am cucumber-cool when on the inside I am a floundering wreck? Do not kid yourself: newborns may look puny and underdeveloped yet this belies the fact that they are sophisticated creatures with an emotional intelligence hardwired like a lie detector. It's been said that babies can sense stress just as a bear can smell fear, and react accordingly, usually mirroring the very state you are trying desperately to conceal from them. A vicious circle which no doubt leads to even greater stress, even greater anxiety. You may fool some people sometimes, it seems. But there is no fooling baby who, by the time he has packed his bags and left Hotel Womb, knows you better than you know yourself. Let's just hope he can find it in his teeny-weensy heart to cut mommy and daddy some slack as they learn the ropes. The ride promises to be rough in the first, but isn't that always the way before you reach calmer seas...

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