What's it like being pregnant near delivery?
October 30, 2011 5:13 PM   Subscribe

What's it like to be pregnant nearing delivery?

I'm trying to write about what it's like to be a pregnant woman, 7 months along. In this scene, she's embarked upon a shopping trip for gear with her sister. Never having been pregnant myself, I'm drawing upon experiences from my own life, that might or might not be apt. Is my character feeling something akin to what I've felt when my prospective in-laws were coming to visit? Not dread but wonder and a fantasy-like sense that the moment of our meeting can/will be perfect if I plan well?

Okay, that probably sounds pretty dumb, but play along if you will. Does a pregnant woman project a beautiful first meeting with a person whom she knows she'll love but hasn't yet met?

I have any number of friends with kids who seem to have a hard time remembering the moment I'm trying to capture. Once baby's born, things get practical fast. How will I cope? What works? seem uppermost on the agenda.

What is it like before that?

Thanks much for your help with this!
posted by brynnwood to Human Relations (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
When you carry them for 7 months, they are already a part of your life but there was so much still unknown. The one thing I remember the most clearly from that time is how excited I was to meet my son so I could see what he looked like.
posted by murrey at 5:23 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

What's it like to be pregnant nearing delivery?

I think you will get as many responses to this as there are pregnant women.

Honestly, I would frequently forget about being pregnant. Until I caught sight of myself sideways in a mirror, or tried to get up from a chair quickly, or felt some tiny elbows playing my ribcage like a marimba. That "OH HOLY CRAP THERE'S A BABY IN THERE" rediscovery 10x a day was very weird.

Does a pregnant woman project a beautiful first meeting with a person whom she knows she'll love but hasn't yet met?

Maybe. I think I felt more this way with the second than the first.
I knew enough to look forward to the baby the second time around. The first time, I think I was a bit panicked and being a parent was so far beyond my imagining, envisioning that future was very very fuzzy.
posted by pantarei70 at 5:29 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Everything's completely unreal until you have your baby. I'm not surprised your friends can't remember! When I was 7 months, we already had the name picked out, and knew it was a boy. I never really talked to my belly. I tried to figure out what was poking me, an arm, or a leg, but I honestly could never figure it out. I was never really one of those ladies who worshiped my bump and talked to it and stuff. I guess depending on your character, she may or may not feel varying degrees of connection to her unborn baby.

One memory I do have of 7 months is being frustrated at literally having to get up to pee 4 times a night, and not being able to sleep on my tummy. Something had invaded me and was doing weird things to my body! It's so surreal.

It's almost too much to grasp that there's a tiny human living in your belly. When he came out finally, I thought I would recognize him, since we shared the same space for so long! But I didn't at all. He was a stranger to me! I guess before I met him, everything was hazy.
posted by katypickle at 5:31 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

By the third trimester, I started to experience an overwhelming and disorienting realization, coming over me in waves throughout the day, that I was carrying an autonomous human being, a stranger. The movements were big, hard, and kind of bony at that point, and sometimes they were disruptive as well--if I was in a meeting and my kid wanted to drag his elbow back and forth, over and over, there was nothing I could do to stop it. He got A LOT of hiccups, sometimes for a whole afternoon, and they could be almost as annoying as having hiccups myself--my whole middle would jump. Earlier in my pregnancy, it seemed more Borg-like, as if my consciousness and identity were more connected to the fetus. Later, I was a carrier for a person I had yet to meet and was utterly mysterious. True, he was part me and my partner--BUT WHICH PARTS? Anybody could be in there.

One night, for over an hour, I played with him. I would push on my belly, and he would push back. I would press in over my umbilicus, squishing down his space, and I would feel him move his entire body out of the way. Then, I would go all still, for a long moment, and so would he, and then I'd sort of JUMP and it was if I could feel him startle.

So yeah, like that floating, near-imagination right before you meet someone new where you know just enough to override nerves and have it be anticipation, but not enough to be totally comfortable. Plus, it's weird to know that you're gearing up to fall in love at first sight. It's like someone set you up on a blind date and before you even meet up at some restaurant you both already know that you'll look into each other's eyes and think mine.
posted by rumposinc at 5:33 PM on October 30, 2011 [13 favorites]

I remember having a kind of vague concern that maybe he wouldn't like us or how we'd set things up...this wasn't fully articulated in my mind as it obviously isn't rational, but I definitely had the feeling that I wanted to make things nice like I would for a picky restaurant customer or traveler. At one point I said to myself, "hey, he hasn't done this before either. He's not going to notice if the sheets don't match. It's not like he's going to take his business elsewhere."
I also had a slight feeling that I was taking care of him now in a special way, and that once he was born just anyone would be able to take care of him. So there was just the slightest tinge of grief to that feeling.
posted by Ollie at 5:33 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]

Oh, I should also say that around 7 months is when people are super duper nice to you, smile all the time, give you things, talk to you, and you're not big enough yet to be annoyed by it. The attention just going to stores is amazing! And everyone treats you like a queen. People still do that in the last month, but by then being pregnant sucks, and you see it more of an imposition than anything else.

Also, people will guess if you're having a boy or a girl. Strangers. All the time. For some weird reason, every single person who guessed mine (I was a waitress, so literally every table!) was correct. I don't know why I gave off a "boy" vibe so much, but not one person ever thought I was having a girl! So weird!
posted by katypickle at 5:34 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Does a pregnant woman project a beautiful first meeting with a person whom she knows she'll love but hasn't yet met? "

I don't have kids, and I'm not sure about a projected meeting, but I know that when both my sister and sister-in-law gave birth, both of them expressed a feeling of "holy shit this is fucking weird. what is going on. omg. that was the baby that was in me and now it is out of me and it is also mine. WAT?!" just after giving birth and holding their kids for the first time. So some beauty, but also very weird and surreal.
posted by raztaj at 5:53 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree with katypickle that the fact that there's a baby in there is kind of unreal, and also about trying and failing to figure out what body part is poking out. Also yeah, 7 months is nice, you're not all GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT yet.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:10 PM on October 30, 2011

Seven months wasn't too bad. I was still enjoying a bit of that second trimester "honeymoon" where I felt great, was still wearing regular clothes at the beginning of Month 7 and was enjoying a pretty much normal existence as far as energy. As far as feelings towards the baby, at Month 7, I was pretty attached to him, but the whole thing was still very weird and surreal and he still seemed like a far off concept. I felt like I had time to do everything I needed to do.

The wheels came off the damned wagon in Month 8 and it hasn't gotten better in Month 9. Month 8, he really grew and pushed into my stomach making a horrible return of GERD and nausea. Nesting started in seriousness.

Month 9, I am really excited about him, protective of him and his needs, weepy about him, and sleep like a hibernating bear. 10-11 hours of sleep at night and if I can get a 2 hour nap in during the day, I do.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:14 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm seven months pregnant, almost eight. I don't speak for everyone.

This has probably been the easiest month so far.

Shopping trips for baby gear? We've been doing that a lot lately. I like looking at the cute stuff. Then I get frustrated because there are too many options and I don't know what anything is *for* and it all looks cheaply made and covered in toxic dust and it's in stupid boy and girl colors anyway. Then I have to pee, but the hike up to the bathroom at the front of the store is too far away and I'm just done. Also, I'm starting to feel uncomfortable in crowds or in narrow aisles.

As far as meeting the baby? I don't have any dread about that. It'll be fine. We're wired to love the kid, kid's wired to love us. We'll adjust to the kid, the kid will adjust to us. It'll be hell for a while, but it'll work out in the long run. We're preparing as much as we can, and we're putting resources into place to tap later, and we're just trusting that no matter what we do we're going to feel over our head but it'll be ok. It might help that because of our infertility, we had to go through more to get this kid than 80% of the other parents out there.

I haven't spent any time fantasizing about what meeting the kid will be like. I figure we'll both be too tired from the birth to do much at that first meeting, and then we'll have the rest of our lives to get to know each other. I doubt it'll be like meeting in-laws, because in-laws have their way of doing things and I have mine and we're all autonomous adults with developed personalities and needs that are more complex than "food poop sleep" and we're all very carefully negotiating feelings and rights of access to our shared loved one and worried about setting precedence in future contacts. Since I haven't actually met the kid yet, I don't know what it'll be like, but right now it feels a little like getting a cat. We'll make sure we have all the ducks in a row, stay as flexible as we can, watch out for needs and try to meet them, and just not worry about it.

I'm anxious to get this show on the road, but that's just because "give birth" is on my to-do list and it annoys me to have things on my to-do list that aren't getting done. I don't feel near delivery. There are some weird moments, like when I tell people at a monthly meeting that if I miss them next month, I'm not sure when I'll see them next, but eight weeks still feels very far away.
posted by arabelladragon at 6:15 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

At seven months, there was still a sort of hazy hypothetical ness to it all. It was really interesting to think about who this baby was going to be, but I wasn't anywhere near delivery. I had just started to feel Braxton Hicks contractions on occasion and my belly was all sorts of unwieldy. Still, I was able to walk around and do things pretty ok without getting too tired.

I loved feeling the baby move and knew he was "he," but it totally wasn't real until I put all his clothes away. While being pregnant, a lot of women (such as myself) are loving towards the proto-baby but maintain a protective distance. I was always aware that something could go horribly wrong and tried to shield myself as best I could. I remember the moment when I had everything ready for the birth (at 38wks) and thought to myself "Oh shit. If this baby is stillborn now, this will officially be the worst thing that could ever happen to me." Until that point, it was all kind of hypothetical.

If you want *near* delivery, try 35 weeks at which point I was so uncomfortable that BREATHING hurt and I was ready to rip the baby out with a spoon. It wasn't magical by any means, I was all for giving birth just so it meant that I wouldn't be pregnant anymore.

As for "hasn't yet met," I knew A LOT about my son before he was born. I knew he was really active. I knew he liked it when I lay on my right side. I knew he had preferences for certain foods that I ate. I knew he *didn't* like having the hiccups. The weirdest, most surreal part of it all was that there was another human being inside me and I didn't know what he *looked like.* That was the biggest mystery to me. Here I was incubating this person and I didn't know whose nose he had.

(As it turns out, he has my nose.)
posted by sonika at 6:20 PM on October 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

Maybe it's because I am 37 weeks pregnant today, but 7 months doesn't seem all that close to delivery to me. At that point, everything was still pretty abstract, and if you were writing a scene about what I'd be thinking while shopping for baby gear then it would mostly be about how completely overwhelming and alien all of the options were and how I wished someone in the know would just magically appear and buy things I would like. Strollers were especially intimidating - how to open them (so mysterious!) and which one would be best, etc., when there were dozens of options at the store. Ugh.

This is my second child so it's a little different this time, but in general I don't picture some perfectly planned, beautiful moment in the delivery room. I think every woman is different. Both times I've been pregnant, I've spent a lot of time wondering what the baby will look like and worrying about the baby's health. The closer I get to delivery, the stranger it is to think that one of the biggest moments in my life is in many ways completely random. I mean, you KNOW your wedding date, or the day you're starting an important new job, or whatever. . . but the date of your child's birth is in this fairly large window of time, and that boggles my mind. It's like, "Well, sometime in this 4 or 5 week span, at any random moment, you might go into labor."

My favorite part of being pregnant is feeling the baby move. It always amazes me how autonomous the little creature is already, even when inside of me. She'll be up rocking and rolling at 4am when all I want to do is sleep. Or when I am teaching, she'll suddenly whack me in the ribs or strrrrreeeeetch her limbs and take my breath away. It's a constant reminder of how little control I have over most of the process of being pregnant (not to mention parenting!).
posted by katie at 6:22 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Everyone has different ideas of life after a baby, here is what I thought at seven months...Oh, I should add that I am an older mom. I had trouble getting pregnant and it took about five years for me to conceive. I work full time and I run a business on the side.

I had a mixture of "What will I do when this baby gets here?" and "Holy CRAP, I am pregnant FOR REAL!"

I wasn't sure how I would handle childcare and I was very nervous about leaving my child with someone during the time I was working. That part really stressed me.

The other part, the "Holy CRAP" part was because I think it wasn't really apparent that I was pregnant until I was looking at a big belly finally. You can say to yourself and everyone around you that you are pregnant, but until your feet disappears when you look down, you just think you have been eating too much. It was amazing. You can start to feel the baby moving around in there and you can start to dream about what he or she looks like. The sonograms were cool. You can almost see what the baby looks like after having so many of them done. There were fingers and toes and arms and legs and look at that HUGE HEAD!

It was exciting and frightening all at the same time for me.

I was not thinking so much about the birth day of the child and how beautiful things will be that day as much as I was thinking about the big picture of what do I have to do to make sure this child will have everything and anything he or she will need. It was interwoven with the realization that I indeed will be giving life to a little person in a couple of months!

Hope that helps!
posted by Yellow at 6:29 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Filled with anticipation, filled with trepidation, liable to weep at the drop of a handkerchief. From my journal, two months before Kid the Elder:
Sunday was a good day. Woke up early, dragged my best boy out of bed, drove Hedwig the wonder car to the bakery behind Liberty Cafe on Cortland, breakfasted on coffee and brioche. Drove to Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, wandered homesickly through the Eastern Australian garden, settled beside a duck pond and read. Jeremy had Dan Savage’s The Kid, I was reading Janet Browne’s biography of Darwin. Same thing really. Several squirrels came down to drink at the pond. The ducks socialized and grazed. Just before we left, a red-tailed hawk darted through the clearing, no more than ten feet away from us.

I was leaning against a tree that turned out to be exuding sap. It glued me to its bark for a while. Jeremy helped pick the globs of sticky amber off the back of my shirt. For the rest of the day, we both smelt deliciously like tea-tree oil.

I said to Jeremy: “Don’t you feel these are the last days? The calm before the storm?” “Of course,” he said. But the gardens were full of breeders, human and otherwise, and it’s not impossible that we looked longingly at other peoples’ chimpanzee cubs. “It’ll be a nice place to bring the sprog,” he said eventually. “My parents used to bring us places like this all the time.”
And two months before Kid the Younger:
I am the gracious hostess to a bitch of a cold. Jeremy very kindly whisked Claire to the playground this afternoon, and I tried to sleep, but had to keep turning like a chook in a rotisserie to keep the snot flowing freely from nostril to nostril. Bebe was extremely annoyed and made cobra-strikes at me.

Quinn called wanting to take arty preg pictures of me, but when I explained the situation she said “Maybe not with the snot.”

I said: “I’ve lost the mucus plug in my NOSE.”

Counting Jules and my friendly gut microflora (hi, gut bugs! I heart you!) this means there are at least four entities inside my skin. Sure is getting crowded in here! This is not, however, a complaint; in case war and hurricanes don’t give me enough perspective, there was this conversation at hippie birth prep class last night.

“I’m going to be a single mom. My fiance’s family are all in Britain…”

“Oh, is he there too?”

“He passed away.”

Consternation from everyone in the room; an understanding smile from the mom in question.

“The story is that he froze his sperm before he started treatment for leukaemia. Two years ago he died of it, but now I’m having his little girl.”

Even I couldn’t think of a snarky comeback.
posted by rdc at 6:48 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised so many women describe 7 months as seeming far from delivery! I started childbirth classes at 29wks and was it was during that first session that I PANICKED about the birth itself. Everything up till then had been enjoying the queenliness and attention, cute clothes and abstractions. Watching "the movie" made it all terrifyingly real and imminent. No more misty musing over Land of Nod bedding. After 29 weeks, my thoughts were consumed with episiotomies and pooping on the table.

In response to your specific question about meeting-the-child fantasies: no. All I was focused on was the safe delivery of a healthy child, and assumed everything would sort itself from there. Which it did, thank goodness.
posted by apparently at 6:52 PM on October 30, 2011

Powerful. There is no one else on earth who can have this baby.
Really really -secretly- powerful. Cuz you can't say something like that out loud, because it sounds totally egotistical and stupid.
But, yeah. Powerful.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:06 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. I assume it's your character's first pregnancy? What time of year is it....summer so she's boiling and getting heat rashes or winter so she can't get her coat to fit but doesn't want to buy a new one?

2. I was 7mos preg in a big city in August, which meant that I could not maintain my typical fast city-walker stride, and that would get frustrating. I had this belly in front of me that just pushed me back a little and slowed me down and was not happy if I jiggled too much. Which turned out to be good practice for walking with my dawdler kid. I remember starting to get frustrated that my beginning of pregnancy maternity clothes were too small but end of pregnancy ones were still too big, so nothing fit.

3. As per buying stuff, yes, it was bewildering, but I had already decided that if we had enough clothes and diapers, we could pretty much wing the rest. A more nervous woman who was less used to babies might feel differently and read all the baby bargain books/feel compelled to price-compare and read Yelp and Consumer Reports about cribs and car seats. A poor woman would worry where she was going to get it all/how she could get it free or cheap; a richer woman perhaps would worry about being judged by other moms if she didn't get high-quality gear, like pricey jogging strollers and clothes.

4. Your character will always have somewhere close to the front of her mind a) where's the bathroom and b) where can I get something to eat or drink. She will also be inclined to nap when she can.
posted by emjaybee at 7:43 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I started being incontinent when sneezing. My pelvis hurt when I walked more than quarter of an hour. I was always short ofbreath and walking slower than the slowest old lady (lungs squashed by baby). I couldn't sleep / peed every hour or so.

O h man, I couldn't WAIT for it to come out! But also dreading delivery which everyone promised me would be painful.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:20 AM on October 31, 2011

I'm 3 1/2 weeks away from delivering my first...
At 7 months, my belly was big enough that I felt pregnant but small enough still that I didn't spend all my time thinking about it. Pregnancy was intefering slightly with my day-to-day life in that I'd slowed down and couldn't bend over so well, but not to the degree I feel now, where I am almost constantly uncomfortable.

At 7 months, I was still working full time, and studying part time so I think a lot of my attention was focused on that rather than getting ready for the baby arriving. I spent planty of time writing list of things I needed to do or get, but I still had the sense of having plnety of time in which to do it all. I didn't really start buying stuff for the baby till about 3 weeks ago, and though I'm nearly ready I'm starting to panic slightly now about whether I have got everthing (this is in part because my mobility has been seriously reduced in the last couple of weeks due to pelvic problems and the knowledge that being nearly full term I could go into labour any day now).
I did my antenatal and breastfeeding classes at around the 7 months mark, and though that meant I started to think seriously about what giving birth might entail, it all seemed slightly surreal, and I have felt very detached from the process - I know it's going to happen, but cannot envisage what it will be like.
I don't feel like I have really 'bonded' with the baby while it's inside me - I frequently feel surprised when it moves, that yes I have this small creature inside me, but it doesn't really feel like a part of me. I'm looking forward to meeting it and finding out the sex, what it looks like etc but definitely not anticipating the experience being magical or perfect - while I realise there's a good likelihood that I WILL feel like that at the time, I can't imagine it at the moment as it is so outside anything I've experienced before.
posted by kumonoi at 1:27 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't get a hold of my pregnancy journal right now, but at seven months I prayed, daily and probably hourly,"stay inside". I one pulled off the highway to weep profusely because I heard Parabol/Parabola by Tool and all I could think was "hold on, stay inside" for the next two weeks. I was sick, in danger of a number of unpleasant things and so was my baby. So at seven months she very much existed as her own self and it was simply making her entrance as healthy as possible, as opposed to perfect. I also did very little shopping for her before she wwas born - not as a religious thing, but it didn't feel right. We bought a cars eat, the rest of the family bought heaps of stuff, and we got what we needed after that. I think I bought a few onesie and singlet sets.

I do remember going shopping around that time though, as an outing with my mum and sister. I was exhausted, my pelvis was wrecked, my feet hurt, my headache came and went from bad to worse and I was furiously cranky the whole time. And nauseated by the whole idea of buying something for this tiny little proto human potentiality inside me. It seemed terribly inane. Also, even my sister figured I was being lazy since hadn't I got the memo that pregnancy isn't an illness and exercise is always good? I was barely ill at that point, but I still felt like crap.

So yeah, very different for each woman and I am obviously a little bitter about it all!
posted by geek anachronism at 4:00 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

First pregnancy, so excited to meet my new baby and constantly wondering what he will be like, what he will look like, how our lives will change, how weird is it that we're going to be parents.

Second pregnancy, large, cranky, barely had time to focus on the fact that I was going to give birth one of these days.

As for baby shopping, I have friends who are so excited to buy all the baby gear and pick all the cutest and most expensive things. My experience visiting Babies 'r' Us for the first time, probably around 6-7 months: I felt totally overwhelmed and nearly started hyperventilating when we walked in. I had no clue what all this stuff was and what we needed. I tried out the stroller I wanted, but I could not for the life of me fold it up and the guy at the store laughed at me. I started crying and telling my husband, "I can't do this!" ("Here, just turn the handle like this." "No, I mean HAVE THE BABY!")
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:52 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Like others, 7mos still felt kind of far away from delivery - I'd only just begun to truly "show", and all of the measurements & readings made it clear she was still impossibly tiny.

This is about when I started feeling pressure to have the most basic items secured, as the various timelines that inundate the pregnant made clear she would arrive and be in my arms one day. I was already baby-wise, so I wasn't daunted by the choices...just the expense of getting the safest items and needing to compromise all the way down the line. That made her even more "present" to me - having to imagine this baby in a cut-rate car seat and whether or not I could deal with the anxiety of the little head not having quite enough support started to bring her existence home.

The end result was that I felt I was on the scarier side of a yawning gap between the increasing gravity of pregnancy and the terrifying thrill of delivery. A very long tunnel of expectation and worry.

I'm in the cohort who was constantly pulled by need for restroom, thirst, and hunger. I didn't have the shortness of breath thing yet, though. And the superwoman hormones had started to flow, so a lifetime of aches & pains went into abatement and I took full advantage of it by climbing stairs whenever I could and walking as much as possible.

Clothes were just starting to be uncomfortable - the pair of yoga-type pants I'd been wearing around the house for a while went from relaxing to binding.

What rumposinc said about knowing one is ramping up to fall in love is right on the mark. I tried to mitigate this with knowledge about how that doesn't happen for everyone, but it was pointless - the cosmic exhilaration would take over and the impatience would start again.

Definitely think about your character's resources (money, other people, etc.) - it changes everything and will ring instantly false if it hasn't been considered.
posted by batmonkey at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know some people say that they have this beautiful feeling of anticipation and joy of what will be, but in truth I was anxious and scared of what was going to happen, whether I was ready for it or not, in just a couple months. It was a freaky "how is this going to change my whole world" feeling. Sure, some of the times it was very awe-inspiring, when my children kicked or poked, or moved, or jumped around. Then I felt a happiness and sweetness. But, there was a good deal of "omg" moments too.

I do remember how funny it was, when I was about 7-8 mths pregnant, we went to the symphony. Front row. Very beautiful for the first half; I think it was Handel or Mahler. Then they played a more modern piece that was cacophonous and a little screechy, and how odd it was to feel my daughter moving around inside me then, agitated it seemed. She had been quite still during the earlier pieces. :)
posted by minx at 7:25 PM on October 31, 2011

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