This morning was a morning just like any other morning. I was in the drive-thru line at McDonalds to buy my decaf vanilla latte (OK, I ordered an egg and cheese biscuit too…get off my back!) just like I do many mornings, but on this particular day, something would change me forever. “What’ll you have?” inquires the lady in the speaker. “One sugar free vanill…vanilllllll…..vanillllllllllll…” Eventually, I got my order out, but not without a pretty heavy distraction. I was poking at my stomach, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Not ever really sure what I hope to find down there, but it’s fun to feel how rock hard and bulgy I have gotten and every once in awhile, I get lucky and feel a kick or a hiccup. The kicks and hiccups are like second-nature now, but this morning I came across something new. Baby Boy had ventured into uncharted territory, swam across my gulf of unknown fluids, and found his way to my stomach wall.
As I was feeling around, my hand stopped on a tiny, fragile sharp little bone. I felt it two or three times before realizing that this had to be an arm…or a leg. It was so small, but was definitely a substantial limb of sorts. MY BABY HAS A SUBSTANTIAL LIMB OF SORTS! I followed it with my finger and mentally measured it at about three inches long. My first reaction was one of excitement and glee! My baby has a healthy appendage, and I just FELT it with my own two hands. Then, as often happens in the mind of Nicki, I stupidly continued that thought…I just felt it with my own two hands while he’s still INSIDE my body. Flashes from the movie Alien ran through my mind. He’s almost four pounds. What’s to stop him from getting fed up with his current living situation and knocking down the door, violently releasing himself through my torso at any given time on any given day? I just got proof that the kid has arms already, which means he probably has pretty strong little legs and a well-functioning brain – all the necessary makings for a skilled killer escape artist. My mind wandered and I continued to freak out with the realization that, yes, there is a small human being growing INSIDE of me. Not beside me, not behind me, not below me, but INSIDE me. And, this bony little human will soon demand to NOT be inside me anymore, which means there needs to be an exit plan in place, and this set me off on another whole level of fear and panic. What are my exit options? I quickly surveyed my body and realized the belly button is pretty much the same size as the escape route sketched out in God’s intended Blueprint of Womanhood. I couldn’t imagine squeezing Baby’s arm out of my belly button, let alone the rest of him, so what makes you think squeezing him out of anywhere else will be a whole lot better?
These rampant, irrational thoughts were causing me to hyperventilate and I was still working on completing the word “vanilla,” so I took my pointer finger and gently (with a touch of angry fervor), poked his little limb until it tucked away like a turtle head pulling back into the safety of its known and trusted surroundings. Baby may have been ready to show his newly-grown pieces to the world, but mom wasn’t quite there yet. I grabbed my vanilla latte and parked my car in the lot for a few minutes, trying to wrap my head around what had just happened. So, like any frantic wife, I called my husband. I explained what I just felt and he was bouncing-out-of-his-office-chair excited. Well, you can’t hear someone else be that excited and not get excited too! So, I did. Just like that, I erased any movie stills or other fictional visions from my mind and focused on the reality of what I had just done. I just touched my baby’s body for the first time. That little arm is attached to a precious hand with five miniature fingers – fingers that will soon be clasping onto mine for maternal reassurance and a sense of safety and love. And all of the sudden, I wanted to feel it again.
I haven’t felt that bone again since the morning, but I was definitely able to make out something round later in the day. I immediately assumed it was the head and told everyone, “I just felt my baby’s head!” It wasn’t until later that I realized I could’ve been caressing my baby’s butt and not even known it. What kind of mother can’t decipher between her own child’s head and hiney? Chalk it up to inexperience and naivety, but at this point I’ll take what I can get. I’m 31 weeks pregnant and it’s about time I grew a pair and started enjoying all my firsts. I even caught myself conversing with my belly on the commute home from work, “C’mon out, buddy. Let mommy feel your strong muscles again. I promise I won’t finger-jab you and cry again.” He didn’t listen, but I guess I deserve that. Maybe next time something has the potential to make me panic and crank my overexaggeration lever up to high speed, I won’t let it. I’ll enjoy the moment and try to remember every movement, feeling, and emotion.
However, if he does decide to bust through my torso like a rabid, suicidal Kool-Aid-Man-on-a-Mission, I can’t guarantee to cherish the moment. And, you certainly shouldn’t judge me for THAT.