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Living Out Loud: : Nancy's Big Fat Belly

Lessons in faith

By Susan Burke Steege · November 17th, 2004 · Living Out Loud
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My sister is having a baby. Nancy's my only sister and this is her first baby. I also know I probably won't be having any more children, so this baby is kind of special to me. I'll be able to hold an infant in my arms again, coo at him, smell him and fall asleep with him while resting his warm head against my shoulder.

I love children. I love how innocent they are and how honest they are. I love their soft faces and their big, bright, inquisitive eyes. I love being able to care for a new life, nurture that life and watch it grow into someone beautiful.

I think Nancy will be a great mom. She's a wonderful aunt to my children and has a terrific sense of humor, which will help her through those pull-your-hair-out-at-the-roots moments.

She's also exhibiting a trait that I never had, and I've found myself quite frankly amazed by it. She enjoys being pregnant. In fact, she relishes in it, shows it off, savors it, is in no hurry to get the damned "blessed event" over with and is in your face about it.

Nancy will walk into a room, three weeks from her delivery date, patting her big fat belly with a broad grin on her face. She'll sit herself down in the middle of a couch or a chair, rest a plate of food on the "shelf" and wiggle her poised fingers in the air as she decides which morsel she should sacrifice to The Baby first.

She has no problem letting other people assist her, and in fact will hold an elbow out before arising from her chair so one of the guys emerging from the beer cooler can yank her up on their way back to the La-Z-Boy to watch the game.

She'll smile graciously as she continues to stroke her belly and waddle off to the bathroom -- again.

I think the thing is she likes the attention. And she looks beautiful, with perfect complexion and pregnancy weight of a perfect 25 pounds. As her husband has said, she's gained only enough weight to pop the wrinkles out of her face.

My 4-year-old is enamored with her -- or with her belly, I should say. In a room full of people, he'll walk up to her, hike up her shirt and stare up at this big round orb.

"Is this the baby's nose?" Will asked one time, poking on her extended belly button. Nancy giggled, quite comfortable with her belly and all of its bare bigness being exposed to the rest of us. I shuddered a little and looked at my brother, whose face was scrunched up in disgust as if he just finished a shot of Jaegermeister, which he hates.

Nancy didn't care. She just patted her belly, smiled broadly and poked a little at her belly button herself. The rest of us simply walked out of the room, leaving Nancy, The Baby and her belly button to themselves.

I would have hated this. Never in a million years would I let some kid lift my shirt. I would not have let anyone look at my exposed belly, much less touch it, and if anyone were to offer advice about what healthy mommy snacks I should eat, I would have told them that they were fat and should take another look at their own bathroom scale.

In fact, I can say that I hated being pregnant altogether. I gained 45 pounds with each pregnancy, was tired all the time, drank myself to oblivion with extra-large UDF chocolate malts while crying in the parking lot, left my house in my pajamas and slippers because I was too pissed off to get dressed and for some reason gained immense satisfaction from verbally insulting strangers when they smiled cutely at me. I was a bundle of maternal joy.

Not only that, but I threw up regularly.

The whole pregnancy thing is something I don't really like to revisit. Not only did I not like being pregnant, I was a nervous wreck, convinced that something was about to go horribly wrong. "Calm" and "content" were two words that did not describe my state of being during those nine months.

Instead I like to start with the first second I was able to hold each of my children. During each of their first moments, time for me stood still. As I examined their perfect little bodies, their tiny fingers, the shapes of their faces, the sound of their cry -- for that moment, nothing else in the world mattered.

All I could do is laugh, because I knew then that love at first sight is possible, that there are things you have to take on faith and on the grand scale there are things that are bigger than I am.

I suppose this is something I'm still learning. I know how someone handles a pregnancy doesn't determine how good a mom she'll be or how good a person she is or how much faith she has. I still firmly believe, for me, that pregnancy sucks. But watching my sister during this time has reminded me that every now and then I still need to give it all up and just go with things, because sometimes great times happen.

 
 
 
 

 

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