|A photo of pregnant Sharon Tate, |
which has nothing to do with this post really,
but which I like muchly.
The sidewalk at my morning bus stop is uneven, and I've tripped on it a dozen or so times since I've been catching buses there. But today, very nearly eight months pregnant, I tripped and fell. I'd just hastily kissed Wolfman goodbye and was rushing to the awaiting bus, my arms full of morning smoothie, umbrella, thick Wallace Stegner book, my head turned and scrounging in my bag for my wallet to pay my bus fare. And, down she (I) went. The things I'd been carrying scattered forward, the green smoothie spilled in a puddle which my umbrella lay in, the cover of my book bent (my poor books--even when I'm not falling down, they sure do take a beating). I'd landed on my hands and knees, and I'd broken my fall with my bag, which was underneath me now. Before I had time to react at all to what had happened, Wolfman was at my side, pulling me up, sounding slightly panicked in asking me if I was okay, which is when, I think, I started crying.
My hands and knees stung, and honestly, I was a little embarrassed, but what made me cry was this big ol' belly of mine, what I'm smuggling inside it, how precious that thing is, and how now is not a time to turn clutz. (I've been, if I do say so myself, rather graceful my entire life, but I'm not quite used to this newer, bigger, slower body of mine, and pregnancy has made me semi clumsy.)
The bus had driven off at this point, and Wolfman gathered my scattered belongings and helped me back into the car, where he drove me home to collect myself before we trekked back out to Raleigh for work. All I could think on the ride home was, what if I hurt my baby because I wasn't paying attention, because I was in a hurry? What if I'd hurt my baby, for what? To make it to a bus on time? To make it to work on time? These things don't matter. Nothing matters at this point in my pregnancy but keeping this baby safe and healthy.
Wolfman says watching me fall was, hands down, the scariest moment of his life to date. I was scared, too. So, he held my hand, and I cried, and I willed the baby to start wiggling around to let me know he or she was still in there and doing just fine. Baby obliged about a mile from our house with one solitary THUMP. When we got home, I lay on my back on the bed, lifted up my blouse, and watched my belly roll, and felt my baby move, and I don't think I've ever even known what relief truly feels like until those moments.
This seems silly now, of course. It was just a little trip on a sidewalk! I only skinned the heels of my hands and my knees! Elementary-age me frequently sported bloody knees with nary a tear for them. It's embarrassing now, typing this, as this baby bounces around inside me on a lunch time high, to think of how I reacted, how my husband reacted. I didn't fall down any stairs; I wasn't in a moving vehicle.
I confessed to Wolfman after the incident, once I'd calmed down, that never in my life have I been so conscious of and wary of bodily harm coming to me in some way. These past few months, I've been haunted by stray thoughts like: what if I get stabbed? What if I get hit by a car? I never worried about these things before, and now weekly I'm plagued by images of harm coming to me, and as a consequence, my baby. I guess I'd never had something to protect before. By which I mean, I never went out of my way to put myself and my body in danger, but I guess I'd always been pretty confident in my chances of survival--the blessing, or curse, of being young, healthy, and strong. But now, the stakes are so much higher, and I feel so much more vulnerable than before. It's confusing and annoying, and I can't shake it, no matter how many affirmations I mutter to chase away an unfounded worry.
I slipped on my butt at Hemlock Bluffs early in my pregnancy, before I had a belly, before I'd even told most people. The stone stairs leading down to the parking lot were slippery and down I went. I laughed because I bounced a little (I've got some cushion back there, of which both Wolfman and I are pretty fond). I laughed and then said to Wolfman as he pulled me up with a kind of rueful expression on his face, I need to be more careful now. It's not that I consider myself solely a vessel or carrier; I'm still an autonomous being, and I expect to be treated as such--by society, by the medical industry. But, I'm sharing this body now, in the realest of senses, with some little being who needs me, who relies on me completely. Being aware of that, every day, every minute, sure does make me think differently about myself and my place in the world. And, yes, sometimes it makes me panic over little things that seem so much huger now.
I'm grateful for that one THUMP on the ride home, grateful for a visible wiggling as I watched my belly in bed, grateful now to feel the baby pulsing happily inside me. I'm grateful for my husband, who was beside me so quickly. I'm grateful for this wake up call, even, this alarm clock ringing, telling me it's time to sloooowww dowwwn. Officially, we, baby and me, are on slow time. If we miss a bus, we miss a bus. So be it.