When I first fell pregnant, a bunch of people asked me where I was planning to have the baby. Um, here? I guess people thought I’d feel more comfortable returning to America to deliver Harley. It’s weird, but I guess the stereotype that deep dark Africa is still a scary place or something and I’d prefer to have the kid in the safety of my home soil. If only people realized just how nice the local hospitals are, and just how comfy I am at home. Plus, haven’t people realized yet that healthcare in SA is sorta awesome and healthcare in the US is sorta unaffordable? At least here I have medical aid, plus the knowledge that I’ll be surrounded by awesome nurses and healthcare professionals who will make sure I’m okay?
Anyway, it got me thinking about other differences. I remember growing up in New York, my mom taught me to always give up my seat on a crowded bus or subway if a pregnant woman got on, and I always did. But there were plenty of times I saw pregnant women forced to stand because no one gave up their seat and I didn’t have one to give. Or carrying heavy groceries. Or suffering in the ridiculously heat. And it makes me incredibly grateful to be living in South Africa while pregnant, and even excited to be having the kid here.
We all make rules to live by, and most of us eventually break them. I was SURE that I would only date a certain kind of guy, that I would only want a certain kind of marriage, that I would only be happy going to work in specific places. Basically, all those decisions I made as a teenager or in my early twenties have now totally disappeared, and I’m sure in many ways, the same will be true for motherhood. I’m trying to be pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and I’m not making anything set in stone but mostly built around whatever turns out to be best for Harley when she’s born. If she wants to suck her fingers, cool. If she prefers a dummy, that’s fine, too. I’m not too stressed about those things.
There are some things that I think I know for sure, though, and I reserve the right to unabashedly change my opinion many more times on the subject matter. I have strong ideas about stimulating her as a baby, about how to raise her to be a good person, about how to raise her to know about the world around her. I want to teach her how to read at an absurdly young age the way I was, so that she can find her love of reading early on. I want to be a good role model for her as a woman, and make it clear to her that she can do anything she wants, that her gender doesn’t play into it. I have all sorts of cool plans for things I want to do, but I also have plans for things that I never, ever want to do.
Motherhood still feels quite a ways away. There are moments in the day when I’m caught up in work, or hanging out with Dean on the couch, and I actually forget I’m pregnant. Sure, the heartburn and ever growing stomach and giant swollen ankles serve as pretty decent reminders when Harley isn’t kicking up a storm, but there are periods in the day when I’m not thinking about being knocked up and what that means for the future. But then there are also massive reminders that sort of blow my mind, and this weekend I got one of them.
One of our awesome Lazygamer people, Darryn, doesn’t live in Joburg. That means that when rAge rolls around, he flies up to Gauteng to join in the cosplay and general fun times of the gaming weekend. Last year, he crashed on my couch and we had a whole lot of fun. Of course we wanted to repeat the fun time again this year, and thus he ended up on my couch again. We had a ridiculously busy few days together and then all of a sudden it was Sunday and time for him to head home. We were saying our farewells and one of the last things he said to me was “next time I see you, you’ll be a mom”. Holy. Crap.
A few weeks back, I wrote about my discomfort with the idea of a baby registry. It felt like begging to me and I worried that friends and family would think I was expecting them to pay for mine and Dean’s decision to procreate. However, thanks to some awesome feedback from people who read my words, I decided that it wasn’t begging, but simply a guideline for those who want to buy presents for my little munchkin. It is rather fun to buy baby stuff, and people like to feel helpful, so why not tell them what I want and need for those who are unsure of what I might want. I stressed to Stacey (probably way more than I needed to, but hopefully she knows I’m pregnant and apparently need to say things a million times) that I want the invite to say that while gifts are appreciated, they really are not required at all; I don’t want anyone to feel like an invite to the baby shower is actually me trying to dip into their pockets.
So, prepared to shop for all the fun stuff, Stacey and I set to work making a baby shower. WHAT. A. MISSION! We had already ruled out Baby City because they only allow you to make a registry close to the shower date, plus none of it ends up online so you actually have to go to the specific store where the registry was done and rummage in the registry bin. Instead, we went to another major baby outlet, and then another, and then another. Almost all of them let you register, but almost none of them have sites that list all the products that they actually stock. For example, on the Babies R Us registry, i could find a manual AVENT breast pump, but not an electric one. And I could find one model of Angel Care monitor, but not the one I actually wanted. All this despite the fact that I’ve SEEN the ones I wanted in the actual stores.
I have been desperate for Dean to feel Harley’s kicks. I can feel her moving, growing and generally doing her thing inside me and it’s so magical every time… except when she’s throwing her 3am dance parties. It makes the whole thing feel that much more real (and sometimes alien) and I want to share it with Dean. With her kicks getting stronger and more predictable, I tried to get his hand in the right spot at the right time to feel her movements. This weekend, I thought I had managed, but I think the movements were a bit too far under the surface as Dean said he couldn’t feel anything but gurgling that could have just been my stomach rumbling (it wasn’t).
That tiny disappointment, combined with a series of work disappointments was making me feel a bit down going in to the rAge weekend. For those who don’t know, rAge is a massive gaming expo that takes place each year in Joburg where tons of gaming media, distributors, community and fans gather in the ridiculously hot and sweaty Dome and get to play games, buy merch and generally have a rad time. I was feeling a bit down about it, mostly because there were a few people I had considered friends who had turned out to be lying to me. I was feeling like maybe I was wrong all along, and like the possible stomach gurgling, maybe my connections with people weren’t magical but were simply imagined. Thankfully, I was proved wrong.