It's different being pregnant at 37 than at 31.
First big difference? Fourteen weeks (and, so, yes, it's official that a bun is in the oven for the THIRD time) looks like about five months when we're talking about my gut. The baby is only about 7 centimeters long at this point and the rest I attribute to gas, steak-and-cheese subs and muscle memory. (You know. It's sort of like when you go swimming after being a swimmer all your life and your muscles just kind of know what to do. In this case, my midsection, upon conception, started expanding at a rapid pace because it knew, even before I did, what was coming down the pike.)
I know pregnant women have a tendency to exaggerate so let me just say that when I went to the doctor this past week, the nurse cheerfully asked me, "So, how far along are we now?" I said, "About three months," and she gasped. Gasped. "Holy shit, mama," she might as well have said, "You are going to be HUGE."
Let's get the joy part out of the way. Yes, beyond happy. Like ear-to-ear grinning happy. Like I'm so friggin' excited to see what sort of little ball of craziness is going to land in my lap in about six months (I never go the full term -- nine moths max) I could pee myself. In fact I do. Pee myself, that is. But that has nothing to do with happiness. Which brings me to...
#2 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: I Need a Diaper
Bladder control is a long lost memory. The idea that I can actually control where and when urine exits my body is a joke. I laugh, I pee. I sneeze, I pee. I burp, I pee. I fart, I pee. I get to the nail-biter portion of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, I pee.
Not like gallons of pee, but just a little squirt. Enough to make things uncomfortable and to make me feel that giving my toddler's Buzz Lightyear Pull-Ups a day in court is actually a reasonable consideration.
#3 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: I Am a Sloth
I already have two young children ages five and two.Taking care of them, entertaining them, running around with them used to be a thing I could do even if I didn't feel like doing it on any particular day. In other words, if need be, I could dig deep. With this third pregnancy, I'm cutting corners...big time. I'm looking for an easy way out. Path of least resistance, please. Will they notice me if I lay on the floor here really, really still?
I put my toddler down for his afternoon nap the other week and asked my 5-year-old if she just, you know, wanted to hang out...in my bed...while I put my feet up on two pillows. She looked at me, clutching her army of Polly Pockets, with a look on her face that can only be described as sheer disgust.
I apologized as I face-planted in my pillows. The only thing I remember are tiny jabs on my stomach as I lay on my back. I guess if I wasn't going to play Pollies with her, she was going to use my belly as some sort of makeshift obstacle course for her teeny tiny plastic friends.
#4 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: Doctors Raining on Your Gestitational Parade
I remember being pregnant with my first and having doctors and nurses fawn over me with happiness. "Congratulations!" "Wonderful news!" "You must be thrilled!"
Now, they're measuring the thickness of skin on my unborn child's neck for Down's and recommending we do a test for spina bifida. Fun. Pregnancy after 35 ain't no joke. You get statistics hurled at you on the regs. Like at age 35, your chances of having a baby with Down's is 1 in 400. Once you hit the big 4-0, that increases to 1 in 100. Awesome.
I know, in my head, that being pregnant at 37 presents risks and realities I didn't face as a younger mother. Still, sometimes you want to just revel in the joy of being pregnant and the anticipation of looking into your child's eyes for the first time without all the worry. It's amazing how for granted I took those untethered joys of my previous pregnancies.
Now before I go believing what my nanny said to me the other day about "Bearing children is for the young," I will say there are things about this third pregnancy as an older -- and hopefully wiser -- woman that make it the easiest one by far.
#5 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: I Know What the Fuck I'm Doing
Instead of blindly throwing darts at a parenting dart board, I kinda, sorta know what's going to happen and how to deal with it. I know my nipples are going to be sore from breastfeeding, but that will only last for six months or so. I know the baby will wake up for every 2-3 hours for the first several months of its life, but that in time, I will sleep more. I know there will be temper tantrums, but that they aren't some sort of sign that I'm fucking up as a mother.
I know they'll eventually shit in a toilet.
In other words, I know each stage -- easy or difficult -- is not a permanent state. They change. They grow. Things pass. The next stage comes. You deal. You grow.
Things don't last forever. Even colic.
#6 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: My Husband Knows What the Fuck He's Doing
You know one thing they don't tell you when you have a kid is how annoying your husband becomes. Seriously. When did this guy you pledged to love and spend your life with become the clueless village idiot? Oh, and by the way, when did you become the all-knowing, all-powerful Mother? I guess I should maybe call this part, "I Know What the Fuck I"m doing So I'm Less Inclined to Take it Out on the Guy Who Knows Even Less."
Without getting into all the gory details, my marriage has grown -- blossomed if you will -- as a result of having our children. Not that I guarantee this result for all families or that all families even need what we needed, but we went through some hardcore years of self-discovery and came out the other side as better spouses and parents (in my opinion at least). Our children were the catalyst for this change.
Now, I can say without reservation that my husband has actually taught me a thing or two about parenting. And, I'm sure he'll continue to do so. I couldn't have said that with #1...or #2 for that matter.
I'm sure as time goes on, I'll see even more differences with this third venture into parenthood and the previous ones. They all have their unique flavor. I can say my first child taught me some hard lessons about myself, and what I needed to change. My second taught me to relax and enjoy motherhood. And this third? Well, we'll just have to wait and see. But, I'm guessing that, at the very least, he or she is going to teach me to accept that minivans aren't a sign my life is over.