The Ninth Month

About to pop!

How am I feeling? Funny you should ask. Though I prefer not to complain, I’m in my ninth month of pregnancy. So I’m thrilled at the prospect of meeting this baby I’ve been carrying. But I’ve been carrying her for a long time. So I do my best to smile, but I’m tired and achy, and depending on the time of day, I may be cranky, too.

It is simply not comfortable to be me. I am five feet tall, and in the pre-pregnancy days, I was fairly thin. Now I look like three-quarters of a plus-sign.

I always wanted to marry a taller man, hoping that adding some height to the genetic pool would enable my children to see over crowds at parades. But this pregnancy has me second guessing the wisdom of that plan. Built to carry a Cornish game hen, I seem to be gestating a Thanksgiving turkey. It can be a strain for the oven.

Who knew pregnancy would do such a number on my body? I haven’t been able to walk normally in months. I’m a delight for people-watching, as it’s a fun debate as to whether I “waddle” or “wobble” as I attempt to move unsteadily from one place to another. I say “move” and not “glide,” since any grace I acquired during 10 years of ballet training has now evaporated. I am reduced to praying that strangers don’t bump into me and knock me over. It wouldn’t take much.

A few months ago, I was walking to synagogue on narrow, barely shoveled sidewalks. A gaggle of college-aged boys followed closely behind, increasingly irritated that I wasn’t moving fast enough. They loudly complained to one another about not being able to move because “I’m a little teapot here is so slow!” At the next opportunity to step aside and let them pass, I did. Only then did it register with the munchkins that the my trudging steps were due to carrying six months of baby and not to my being deaf.

That was then; this is now. It hurts my legs and my feet to stand still. It hurts my right thigh to sit for any period of time. If I lay down without a pillow between my knees, it’s a disaster-in-waiting. Please don’t even get me started on sleeping. Something I used to do effortlessly, turning over in bed now requires serious effort. Sometimes it’s fine, but other times, it feels like my lower back is pulling itself apart. That is possibly the worst sensation I have ever experienced, and even worse than the only-in-pregnancy joy of my legs, feet, and hands painfully swelling.

In this sense, the first two trimesters were better. Granted, I spent the whole first trimester and the beginning of the second battling all-day morning sickness. But I wasn’t swollen or achy.

But hands down, the best part of the third trimester is the sense that my daughter is always with me. She was there before too, but now she happily reminds me, just in case I momentarily forget. She kicks when Lucinda Williams’ “Blessed” comes on the radio. She kicks along at Friday night services (her favorite prayers seem to be L’cha Dodi, welcoming the Sabbath bride, and the Shema, recognizing the oneness of God. Don’t know what that might mean!) She kicked at every mention of Vashti’s name–not Esther’s–during the Megillah reading on Purim.

While she slept through our other prenatal classes, our baby girl had a dance party throughout our Breastfeeding Basics class, seemingly delighted to hear about the non-stop feasting that awaits her beyond the amniotic walls. And she seems to have taken a shine to the bus, with an enthusiastic boogie during recent bouncy bus rides.

Pregnancy definitely has not been easy and has involved some major physical changes, but I don’t regret doing it. In fact, I can’t wait to meet my spunky daughter.

Melissa Langsam Braunstein

Melissa Langsam Braunstein, a former U.S. Department of State speechwriter, is now a freelance writer. She writes primarily about parenting and pop culture for a variety of publications, including Acculturated, where she is a Staff Writer. She shares her writing at and tweets as @slowhoneybee. Melissa lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and delightful daughters.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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