NaBloPoMo, Day 3
At yesterday’s birthday party, a stranger asked me how pregnant I was. When I replied “9 months”, she knowingly responded, “Oh, so about a month to go”. No, I explained, there was only slightly over a week remaining until my due date. “Then you’re ten months pregnant!”, she smugly corrected me, “Pregnancy is 40 weeks—10 months.” I’ve heard this count before, usually from people who have had difficult pregnancies and want credit for every bitter moment, but I still don’t understand the math or logic behind it. 40 weeks would only be 10 months if every month was February, which it isn’t.
Instead, I count weeks and months of pregnancy in separate tallies. The week count is simple: I’m reminded of it every Monday as my phone buzzes with apps announcing weekly developments and the plethora of listserves that I signed up for deliver perky messages comparing Bingo to various fruits and vegetables. The month count is trickier: do I count forwards from the date of conception, or backwards from the due date? As I stood in the shower this morning, the stranger’s assertion that I was now ten months pregnant echoed in my mind, and I tried again to do my own math. While none of my counts added up to ten, I realized that today does mark another month by one count.
Nine months ago today my body greeted a negative beta test with the simultaneous onset of a stomach flu and my period. This means that, with the exception of the scary days of spotting around 5 weeks, it’s now been 9 months since my last period.
To be honest, not bleeding has been one of the major perks of pregnancy. I wasn’t one of those teenagers who welcomed their period as the onset of womanhood. Instead, it was just another awkward and embarrassing bodily shift, complete with my father’s uncomfortable congratulations over breakfast the next day. For a long time I desperately tried to hide any sign that I bled, furiously scrubbing blood out of underwear and burying the evidence under piles of tissue paper in the bathroom garbage can.
My relationship to my period improved exponentially when, late in high school, a friend introduced me to the Keeper. The Keeper, and then the Diva Cup, provided me with a neater solution to the fact that my body stubbornly kept insisting on bleeding every month. They were options outside those advertised in ridiculous commercials featuring women nothing like me. Through these alternatives, I made a sort of hesitant peace with my period, only interrupted by occasional cramps, cravings and crankiness (period alliteration!) Regardless, when Sea and I began to seriously plan for a child, I would greet each period with the vindictive thought, “Your days are numbered, period!” and when we started trying to conceive, my period hatred ramped right back up to early teenage levels. It was soothed only by the thought that this one could be the last for a long time. Or this one. Or this one. Then the fourth IUI worked, and (for the most part) I stopped bleeding. And, like I said, it’s been a major perk of pregnancy. It’s not that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that I’m not bleeding (I haven’t), it’s that I haven’t had to think about my period at all for nine months.
Now Bingo’s birth is approaching, and I’m faced with the realization that I’m going to bleed again: both when Bingo is born and then, at some later point, on a monthly basis. There are post-birth pads stored in my closet: I pulled one out of the box last week and stared in horror at the sheer size of it. In some ways, this feels like being thirteen and feeling those first cramps again: the prospect of bleeding feels like an intrusion. The only difference now is that I’ve seen the method in the madness: the biological function served by having spent almost a week of every month of my adult life letting blood. I’m glad that my body has worked in the way that it’s needed to, that pregnancy was an option, that we only had to spend a short while in the world of fertility clinics, that if we chose to we might be able to do this all again. I’m glad for all of these things. But these nine months? They’ve been a nice break.