I am not a mother. Yet. I am on the homestretch to being one. I am 8 months pregnant as I write this. 33 weeks and 6 days to be precise. I realize I cannot call myself a mother yet because there’s this 7-week stretch where anything could happen. Anything that could flip the script – anything – and I end up being caught between that space of saying I was pregnant and I was almost a mum. I’ve been there before. It’s the harshest place a mum-to-be can find herself. There’s an emptiness to it that echoes across the hollow space of where your baby once was. And it reverberates through your entire being in a way that shudders to your core. It’s unimaginable, the depths of your love for this person whose face you looked into only once, when he wasn’t breathing. Eyes which will never open.
So all we ask is that it turns out as we want it.
(My goodness, how frosty does that intro leave you? Hehee)
Being pregnant has been a lonely place for me. It’s an exciting and unpredictable place in its context but a lonely one nonetheless.
Understand this: you are in this alone. Your single pals won’t stop going to Tamasha because they are supporting you in your pregnancy. Hell no. On one particularly lonely Friday evening you may decide to join them there for a few. And you will drive over in a lark.
But you will get to the parking lot and think about what you are really about to do – do you really want to mix your pure bump with the filthy hedonism of the club? You are in the wrong scene. So you will reverse slowly and drive back home, never letting them know you were there.
Your new-mum pals won’t save you from the twists of the pregnancy no matter how much unwarranted advice they give. GB, your mano, won’t stay in on weekend nights with you even if you are too emotionally needy to spend it on your own. He will go out to meet his boys and he will leave you at home catching The Devil Wears Prada for the third time that week because you don’t want to take your chances with catching something new, something that has the possibility to disappoint you. And you will fall asleep to it halfway with your unfinished plate of food balancing on your belly, feet up on a pouf.
The loneliness fades away.You will wake when he returns because his disturbance rouses you from your sleep. Its 3 AM. And as you drag your swollen feet and your big belly to bed, you will catch a whiff of whiskey on his breath. You will wonder if he had a good time, or rather, a better time without you. You will feel that pang of loneliness as he snores himself to sleep. You want to be held, damnit. You will stare into the darkness feeling the weight of loneliness wash over you from your toes up. You will feel a lump forming in your throat. You will want to cry, Jesus. Then you will feel your baby move within you and you will realize he needs you as much as you need him. He will never leave you, this baby. You are glad he is here now.
You will wonder what it’s like for him, your baby, in that little space of your belly. His knees nudged into his face, his legs entangled, bum at some odd angle, elbows poking into the irregular outer walls of your belly. The little guy is upside down, for crying out loud. He hears muffled voices and muffled sounds and opens his eyes into darkness.
If you think you are lonely, what about him?
This loneliness was a bitter truth for me to accept. Nobody had warned me about it. Well hear this, Love: Life goes on without you. The world won’t stop spinning to let you catch up with the magic that’s happening inside of you. The only Universe that has seemingly halted to is yours. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
I don’t know the sex of my baby. I don’t know what his face looks like. I don’t know if he has GB’s flat nose or my large eyes. If he’ll be chubby or tall. I don’t know if she will be an artist or a scientist, a chirpy bird or a silent thinker. I don’t know if he’ll like to chill solo or chill with a crowd. If she will be a Kale runner or a Kuyo swindler, heehe. I don’t know if he will bite his fingernails like GB does when he’s idle or if she will stare into nothingness listening to her thoughts as I do. I know shit.
And that’s where the beauty of motherhood lies for me. That surprise of meeting this person who has been listening to my heartbeat for 40 or so weeks. A first meeting – he of me, I of him. Looking into eyes that are as unknown as they are familiar. That adventure of discovering who he is and what he is about, the journey of watching him mould himself into his own person.
I don’t want to be the type of parent who imposes her preferences on her kid and lives vicariously through him. Neither does GB. But get this, last Thursday evening GB and I are catching a rerun of Prison Break (remember it? How cool was Scofield?). GB says he wants our kid to be an engineer and a grandmaster at chess. He’ll play soccer with him on the weekends. I say I’ll take him swimming and buy him a piano. And books, lotsa books. GB says he’ll have him listen to hip-hop. I say it’s indie and classical music. GB says he’ll be Anglican, I say Protestant. And in the choir at that. There was silence before we heard the baby clearing his throat. True story. Little man clearly had something to say.
I am not worried I will be a great mum. I am worried I will sacrifice everything I am to be a mother to my baby. I do that a lot; over-indulge in a new activity until I forget there’s more life to be lived outside of what I am engaged in. I am worried I will forget about my pals and about my sisters and about that girl I was before I got pregnant. I am worried I will ignore what I love to do. I am worried for my writing. And reading. It’s been suffering over the last six weeks because my pregnancy brain means I can’t read or think up any creative ideas, let alone write them. I am a mabati. Hehhee. (It took me five days to send this copy in. Sorry, Magunga.)
*it is okay Flo, just name him after me and we will be good.*
But I am reassured – time has a way of making our past concerns seem so naive and short-sighted in the present. I will read this a year from now and smile at my selfishly narrow perspective to motherhood.
And my baby – whoever you are, little one – will smile with me.