Thursday, February 10, 2011

Portents and signifiers

There was a minor dusting of snow in our neck of the woods last night, but the meteoro-magicians responsible for predicting such things had actually done just that, so it was no surprise and did not dash my hopes by underdelivering or inconvenience me by overachieving. All of which leaves me feeling optimistic (or more so than usual) and inclined to interpret “stuff that’s happening these days” as “luminous harbingers of the approach of spring”.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that a few of these things are related in one way or another to my wife’s pregnancy, and the literal birth of our baby in April will coincide nicely with the symbolic rebirth of Mother Nature. Handy, that. In any case, the due date is less than ten weeks away and the uterine inhabitant has recently gotten big enough and strong enough to kick some very sensitive internal spots with a fair amount of oomph. She’s a feisty one! (Or so I tell myself every time my wife grimaces in pain thanks to another tiny boot to the bladder when she least expects it.) I still remember the last pregnancy and the somewhat bittersweet progression of the final weeks, as the little guy got bigger and bigger and the finite amount of womb-space became less and less accommodating for sweeping ranges of motion. It was strange and a little bit difficult to get used to that state of affairs; after the initial months of knowing my wife was pregnant but not having any direct, detectable proof day-to-day (doctor-administered pregnancy test and radiologist-administered ultrasounds notwithstanding), it was comforting to get to the point where my wife could tell me she felt movement inside her, all the way to the point where sometimes I could see little rises in her belly as the little guy poked at it from inside. And then to have that dwindle away towards the end was less than comforting (plus the fact that the pregnancy had had a rocky start and my wife was teetering on the edge of some high blood pressure complications towards the end meant that the minimization of reassurances was that much more of a drag). I guess my point, then, is that while I have inexhaustible sympathy for my wife for the tribulations of foetal fists of fury sneak-attacking her innards, I also keep reminding myself that this baby, too, will eventually run out of room and we should enjoy the happy middle of the pregnancy while it lasts, before it turns into the quiet before the storm. ("Storm" in this case being "tiny newborn composed of equal parts miraculous blessing and squalling mess".)

At the same time, my wife is now working a different schedule than previously, taking shorter shifts (relatively speaking – 7 or 8 hours at a go instead of 10 or 11) on a greater number of days per week. This struck us both as pretty reasonable as far as good ways to make sure she’s not on her feet excessively as the pregnancy hits the eighth and ninth month, but it’s proving to be one of those things where the math makes sense on paper but reality presents unforeseen challenges. My wife used to have every single Monday and Thursday off, and every other weekend. That meant even when she had to work a weekend, it was Friday through Sunday in between her two days off. In other words, she never worked more than two or three days in a row without a break. But by eliminating just one of those days off (Mondays) she ends up working six days in a row, every day between two Thursdays, if she’s on for the weekend. Kind of rough!

It also means that the little guy is in daycare four days a week instead of three. Not really a huge deal, because he genuinely seems to like daycare. Or so it seems to me, at least. I’m usually the one picking him up, so I tend to see him happily making the most of being read to by his teachers or playing with toys and his other little friends, and I’ve been told many many times, “I don’t wanna go home! I wanna stay at school!” My wife handles the morning drop-offs, which means she’s gotten every variation of “I don’t wanna go to school! I wanna stay with you!” imaginable. For a good long while I think my wife and I were of wildly different opinions as far as whether or not the little guy was enamored with daycare or traumatized by it, until we compared notes more carefully and simply concluded that what the little guy really hates is being told to stop what he’s currently doing (whatever, wherever that may be) and transition into doing something else.

But still, needless to say, there’s some wondering uncertainty. Does the little guy notice that he’s going to daycare more, and hanging out at home less, or is he still just a bundle of barely civilized id impulses living totally in the now and blissfully unaware of weekly ratios? If we notice him “acting out” is it because he takes issue with the new schedule we’re forcing on him, or is it just because he’s two and a half and that’s basically their whole deal at that age? Have we done enough to brace him for the upheaval of a little sister coming into his world, or are we laughably unprepared? I think most if not all of those might be unanswerable, but since I started this post by bragging on my own optimism, I suppose I’ll just have to assume that all of those questions will somehow manage to work themselves out for the best.

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