Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Body, Baby, Bulges

I am startled by this newfound round belly. When I was pregnant with Silas, the entire process was miraculous, mystical, magical -- the way my skin grew taught and body stretched unimaginably, the way this forming child, cute and curled, caused my whole body to defy gravity and balance. I watched the changes, riveted, disbelieving, delighted.

And then one day, out he came, and my body promptly forgot the brief time it had transformed into a sacred greenhouse, quite forgot the sensations of his moving just below the muscle, poking at the ribs, his constant presence. Before I knew it, I simply settled back into my self, slightly altered but much the same.

The experience was so complete, so beautifully contained, and concluded with such a blinding grand finale burst of a baby at the end, that it's hard to imagine I could possibly go through it or have such an experience again. When a good magician performs a trick that blows your mind, he won't show it to you second time. Yet inexplicably, here I am. (I know that being here is actually quite explicable, but regardless of any science involved, I can't quite absorb it).

This time around, the changes are happening surreptitiously. In this midst of Silas's and my daily testing each other's limits, playing at the park, digging in the sand, in the midst of making wedding invitations, working on my marriage, gulping down books, discovering my own rough edges, scheduling doctors' appointments, ceaselessly wiping noses (Silas's and mine, thanks pregnancy), I glimpse a half-volleyball-stomach and huge breasts in the mirror and realize, oh, pregnancy, this is my body again, and then can't quite connect with the familiarity of "again."

When I was pregnant the first time I felt I had some role in the transformation: all of the hours I sat with laser-attention bent on my middle must have willed the child to grow. But this time, the baby seems to be holding down the fort herself and even plotting sneak attacks. She is 5 1/2 inches long, apparently the length of your average bell pepper, and just this week has begun poking me. Perhaps this is her attempt to startle me into the belief that indeed she is the one in there, not just countless bowls of cereal, a little girl who has popped out my bellybutton and is letting me know that in no time, she will change me forever...

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