I start thinking about the women of the 19th century, and I begin to understand why they spent their last month of pregnancy in confinement. It wasn't for health, it was to avoid the well meaning but ill-conceived comments of passerbys. While out walking early this month, a man asks me how much longer I have to go. When I tell him about a month, he looks deeply suspicious and asks if I'm sure. A guy in a plumbing van yells to me as he drives by, "Almost there".
I fashion a new rule, that no one is allowed to comment on how pregnant I am unless it's part of a larger plan to help me out. Like, oh man, you look like you're ready to pop. Let me buy you a slurpiee on this warm summer day. Or, are you sure it's not twins? Just in case, let me carry you these last few blocks.
In all honesty, I do start thinking of the the women of the past. About how their preparation differed so much from my own. About how, though I have a list of things to do, absent from that list is to prepare for the possibility of not making it through childbirth. I think of the research I did for a paper on motherhood in the 19th century, about a quote from a women in a letter to her sister. That the month of confinement was a time to order your life, to prepare for the possibility of death. I think of this as my due date comes and goes, and I am poised at the edge of the unknown.
(October 1, 2011)
It is finished. And I am a mother.