Christmas Eve. We’re sitting in the gloomy kitchen – I, Lukaš, Weiss (the cat), I. And Y., watching The Jungle Book and preparing things for dinner. The flat we moved in isn’t particularly nice. I can’t imagine us staying there and I don’t have to – that’s not the plan. The only thing I like are the old windows in the kitchen that have double glass with a big space in between. This is where we put our humble Christmas decoration. Then all of us – including Weiss – go to Litomysl where we celebrate with one of Lukaš’s sisters‘ family. This way Christmas begins to resemble a bit what it should.
The first day of 2017. Its first evening. We’re in the gynecological examination room of the hospital in Bludenz, Austria and my sister’s boyfriend who works there examines our babies for free. I haven’t seen mine for a few weeks and the changes are mind-blowing. I can see a spinal cord and five distinctive little fingers. The life inside me has gone beyond its “universal” phase and is already unmistakably human. Lukaš sits in silence. The only thing he’s seen so far is a little black dot located where it should be. Now he can see a little human being and needs time to accept that.
My belly is really small. I still experience no problem putting on the tight dress I bought for the holidays. I just look like someone who’s had a hearty dinner.
We already live in another flat. Smaller but better. It takes us a lot of time and effort to put it together and furnish it but this time I can already imagine staying here. I can imagine this to be the world my child will get to know. It’s not a home. But it’s a good alternative to home until (if) we manage to create one.
It’s exactly in the middle of my pregnancy (I hope) when I go to the doctor’s in the Czech Republic for the first time. She asks us if we want to know the baby’s sex. We say we do. The news disappoints us at first – all the time we were imagining we were going to have a girl. We quickly get over it though. The only problem that remains is the name – we just can’t pick up a boy’s name. We keep the already chosen name “Lea” for next time. And it is a good motivation for a next time.
The weight I have gained is still measured in grams. Gradually however my trousers will start getting tighter. I will still manage to button them up for a while, then I’ll be wearing them without fastening the button and after a few weeks I’ll put them in the wardrobe for future times to come.
I have placed the clothes I am going to need the least – the summer ones – in the highest shelf in my wardrobe. They seem to give off a salty smell; they look so tiny – as if they belong to a little girl. I wonder if I will ever fit in them again. I guess that physically I will but what about mentally? Will the straw-hat short-airy-dress summer girl who hitchhikes with a backpack just disappear? Sometimes I ask myself such questions and can’t find their answers. It’s too early.
There’s no doubt anymore that I feel the movements of my child. It was no less than a month ago when I first started feeling the weird vibration inside of me but it was too weak back then and I wasn’t sure those were my baby’s arms and legs pushing against the walls of his little warm home. Now I know it’s him. It’s an incredible feeling when I pause and consider it. Somewhere inside of me, in an ever-growing sphere, a human is making movements. Yes, the movements are still unconscious but the folding and unfolding of his legs and arms are undeniably governed by the rhythm of Life.
I’ve got two lives. Two hearts. Two heads. Four legs. Four arms. Two complex circulatory systems which flow into each other in the placenta. A complete, perhaps even already aging, organism and another one which is still self-assembling like a puzzle. Day after day.
No matter how we explain and interpret it, pregnancy is a miracle.
My first birthday as a two-persons-in-one. My last one as a non-mother. I welcome it and see it off peacefully, in a good company. With a strawberry cake and spring outside the window.
I can finally define some of my baby’s movements as “kicks”. My pregnancy finally shows. I even begin to suffer from certain health conditions related to the fact I’m carrying a new life inside of me. But as a whole I’m fine. Probably better than I’ve been since my pregnancy began and better than I’ll be from now on.
The second trimester is said to be the best period of pregnancy and for now I agree although I don’t know what else is in store for me. In its very beginning I still have a few complaints – everything that I eat leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The only thing that helps is chewing gums and candy. Towards the end of the year I suffer from cold which continues too long and makes it difficult for me to sleep at night. In the end however it all disappears and is followed by days in which the only thing that makes pregnancy any different from the days before it began is my slowly but steadily growing belly.
My appetite goes back to normal. I don’t feel like eating anything special, just the food I’m generally used to. Well, and a lot of sweet things. More than before, I guess. Lukaš and I take two cycling trips to neighbouring towns and I feel in comparatively good shape. Every day I remind myself I should exercise more but unfortunately I don’t do much about it. Towards the end of the trimester, though, there are days when I walk hours on end. It still doesn’t make me feel tired. The need for sleep has disappeared with the change of surroundings – I already sleep as much as I have ever done before.
I will remember the second three months with a lot of snow in the beginning; with boredom and anxiety in the gloomy flat where sometimes the heating went off by itself; with slipping walks through my new town to Lukaš’s parents where I use their Internet connection in order to be able to do some work; with finding a couple of students of English and a few projects to work on in order to earn something, among which writing children’s books; with the coming of spring and the few really warm and sunny days; with my fickle relationship with Lukaš caused primarily by our lack of money and lack of enough communication; with my sister and Z. coming to visit me; with the depression that had taken hold of me somewhere between the seasons and which, like a bat, ran and hid with the first rays of the sun, waiting for a better time; with spending many hours researching sling and cloth diaper brands; with handling dozens of borrowed baby clothes which discourage me with their diversity and function.
With an increasingly growing faith in the happy ending of the journey. Just a bit overshadowed perhaps by my worries that I don’t look pregnant enough. But still well nourished by the movements of Life inside me, which get stronger every day. With the emergence of my first ideas about what it would be like to hold the child in my arms – with the emergence of eagerness at these ideas. But also with fearing the possibility I won’t be able to cope. With getting drown in information from other mothers which eventually makes me curl up inside of myself, hoping to find support there rather than outside. Not from other people but from the person who’s destined to perform one of her missions as a woman – to give life. The person who will be next to me until the end (of all things) and who probably has access to all the knowledge and skills if she only starts digging deeper. Down there where the voices of others are muffled – the way my baby can hear them now – and just a single voice can get in clearly from a road that’s reserved for it only. The voice of the mother. Of the woman. Of me.