There’s a baby boom on this Kibbutz right now: And seeing all these beautiful knocked up women waddling around with their big old moon bellies fills me with longing.
But for all the wrong reasons.
See, I’m a Leo, which means that I am a hard-core exhibitionist and drama queen often enjoy a little attention once in a while.
When you’re knocked up, it’s like you’re the center of the universe. People pay attention to you. And as your belly gets bigger, it’s gravitational pull increases, drawing dewy-eyed gazes, warm smiles, and the usual checklist of questions: “When are you due?” “Do you know what you’re having?” “How are you feeling?” “Do you have any names picked out yet?” “Are you sure you aren’t having twins?”
People hold doors open for you when you’re pregnant.
You get your H1N1 shot without having to wait on line like everyone else.
You can fill your grocery cart with as much chocolate ice cream as you want without being judged by the woman at the Kibbutz market.
People tell you you’re glowing.
This solicitousness peaks when you reach Critical Mass: All eyes are on you during the last few weeks of pregnancy, as you become that proverbial ‘watched pot.’
It’s fantastic: Your partner, friends, family, strangers, are all holding their breath, just waiting for your water to break. At the time, you may be irked by all the attention (i.e., you sneeze, and your partner makes a beeline for the hospital bag…) but you’re probably also reveling in it, too. Or at least you should be, because it’s all about to change.
(INSERT OMINOUS MUSIC.)
After so many sleepless nights, you finally get to stagger into the hospital or the birth center or your magical homebirth tub– your hands dramatically clutching your contracting belly, your head held high, smiling serenely while shaking on the inside because aside from worrying about the health and safety of your baby, you know that you might be one of those women who shits herself during labor.
And throughout it all, it never occurs to you that your spotlight is about to dim.
You see, once you’re a mama, you become invisible.
Sure, at first there’s a flurry of emails, calls, and wall-posts on facebook, but after a few weeks, people lose interest. Instead of asking how you’re doing, everyone asks after the baby. It’s as though now that the baby is out, it no longer matters how you are feeling, or whether or not your needs are met. No wonder Postpartum Depression can strike around this time. I mean, not only do you have this huge hormonal letdown, but you finally realize that you were just a vessel for new life. And while most new mamas can handle this, those of us who thrive on attention, (ahem) are at a loss.
When faced with the harsh reality of becoming the Invisible Mama, some women become uber-competitive, fighting tooth and nail to make the best cake for the bake sale, or bring the most healthy but delicious snack to the playgroup. Other mamas are able to throw themselves back into a career, and forge a new identity based on a lot of hard work and a lot more caffeine. I, on the other hand, got knocked-up again.
But Little Homie is 15 months old now – he’s toddling out of babyhood leaving a trail of cracker crumbs in his wake. And, the idea of going through it all over again — the upside down days where night becomes the new morning, the colic and acid reflux phase, the near-biblical deluge of baby poop (10 diapers a day, people!) for a measly nine months of stardom seems a bit… desperate. (Like Tom Cruise making another Mission Impossible. Oh wait.)
That said, I miss the feeling of butterfly wings fluttering inside me and knowing that it has nothing to do with the beans I ate for dinner. I miss the way my skin glowed, and the road map of veins along my breasts and thighs. I miss missing all the things that are verboten: Sushi and raw cheese and wine and crack and three cups of espresso. I miss feeling swollen and engorged and peeing 15 times a night, and having to sleep propped up because everything I eat insidiously backs up through my esophagus, and God Forbid I should sleep for more than an hour at a time without waking up to change positions because sciatica is an evil bitch.
And I miss knowing through it all that I better savor every minute of it because this too shall pass.