Betty Duffy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I'm only posting here because I feel like I should, not necessarily because I have anything to say. I'm sure everyone's waiting for an update on how I'm feeling, and where I'm sending my kids to school next year, and what accommodations we might make to this house in order to make room for another kid--these are all the things that have occupied my mind lately. I could have written twenty posts in the past week, each one contradicting the one before it--because damned if I don't keep changing my mind.

For the most part, I feel good. I'm fifteen weeks pregnant. I'm not sick any more. I'm only tired when I stay up too late, which I've been doing, consistently, for the past 30 years.  This is the good part of pregnancy, I'm told by sources consulted on the internet (and yes, I still check in each week to learn what I'm supposed to be feeling and to what-size fruit this baby bears the greatest resemblance--even though this is technically my eighth pregnancy). So that's all going well.

I don't have much get up and go--which has been a source of dismay to my children this summer. Sometimes you just feel trapped by circumstances, all of them, at once. We'd go outside, but it's too hot. We'd stay in, but it's too claustrophobic. We'd go somewhere, but I'm too tired. We'd nap, but then none of us would be able to sleep at bedtime. We'd do chores, but we'd just have to do them again later.  As consequence, I've spent most of the summer dreaming about house renovations and self renovations, and things I'll do when I'm not so--whatever it is that I am--pregnant, I guess.

The kitchen is clean. The legos are picked up. I'm cooking three squares. I've bathed; I've been to Confession. And today I've even vacuumed. We are not a complete shambles. We even had friends over to play. But the overwhelming sensation of this summer has been one of waiting--waiting for something to happen, either my feeling better, or failing that, for the baby to come once and for all (which won't happen until winter) and now, waiting for vacation, for school to start, and decisions to be made. This is not my best mood.

A few sweetnesses: a trip to Chicago for a couple days, me and the three year-old tagging along with my husband to work while the older kids were at camp.  And the three-year-old, who normally speaks in a whisper, with his thumb in his mouth (because he's learned that this is the only way to be heard in our family--to speak softly, so that everyone leans in and looks in his eyes trying to decipher the rare communique from toddler land), suddenly came out of his shell, running around pointing, putting exclamation points on his feelings and observations, removing his thumb from his mouth, periodically, wanting to be understood.

I'm used to three-year-olds suddenly coming out of their shells, speaking loudly and excessively, so much so that you long for pre-verbal days a little. But as soon as we came back home, the boy was back to gesturing with the little barrel of fingers wrapped up in front of his nose, thumb in mouth, and his caterpillar eyebrows. At least we know now he's in there somewhere.

Sweetness #2: A new priest at one of the churches in town, who always, at the daily Mass, makes the sign of the Cross over my pregnant stomach when I go up to receive communion. The first time he did it, tears welled up--the way they do the first time you realize, there's a soul in there, and it is blessed.

I have to admit, that in the darkest first trimester days, when I thought I would rather have died than go on feeling the way that I did, his blessing melted a coldness in me. It was the realization, once again, after all these years--that pregnancy is not really about me. It's not about my generosity as a Catholic, or my selflessness as a mother, or my ability to parent, or what being a mother of six might do to my self-image.

No one can tell you this in a way that doesn't raise all your defenses. What's going on inside you is not about you; it's about another person, another soul that has been blessed and willed into creation. It's an easier concept to understand once they're outside of you, and they assert themselves and their personalities in all their strange splendor. They had some origin in your body--but they are not you.

Anyway, now the baby has been blessed, and blessed again, and sometimes I forget that Father's going to bless the baby in utero, and I start to turn away from the communion line, only to remember The Blessing! And I bring the girl back around so Father can make that sign of the Cross. This is certainly the most blessed fetus in our family.

Hopefully, a sign of good things to come (and not what the superstitious pessimist in me fears--that grace is apportioned according to need--making this the neediest fetus in the family).

Sweetness #3: Vacation, coming soon. I wait for this all year--the lake--my favorite place in the world.


Aimee said...

I've never commented before, but I'd like to thank you for this post. I'm 18 weeks, feeling the strain and drain of a long summer with 6 hot children, and I know exactly what you mean. It's so good to know that at least one other person out there in the world understands where I am right now (mentally, physically, spiritually).

Colleen said...

Any time I receive the eucharist while pregnant, I get all emotional thinking about how the baby is receiving too. That priest is so sweet to bless your baby, and your description of your 3 year old made me melt a little.

Erin said...

This is a wonderful post. :) It makes me smile.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed your blog for a while now but have never commented before. I'm 15 weeks pregnant too! How exciting! Congratulations!


Melanie B said...

Somehow I thought you were much further along. I didn't realize our due dates are only about a week apart. No wonder your posts have been resonating so much with me.

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

Sometimes when I tell people how I languished on the sofa, thanking God that I wasn't allowed to support euthanasia because certainly I would be demanding that my husband put me and all of us out of our misery, they look at me as if I've just said something strange. But you wouldn't. You'd understand.

Anonymous said...

Grace is gratuitous! It's not a zero sum game. Thanks for the post. Your life is so different from mine, in many ways, but I love what you write and share. This is one of the strangest things, I think, that the encounter with God dissolves our likeness to one another on a surface level and deep down creates so much that is shared.

Karly said...

I just want to say that I am thinking of you and sending good thoughts/prayers for you and the baby-to-be. And it sounds like you know that it is a girl!? I was secretly hoping it would be a girl. I've been thinking of that post you wrote awhile back about what a blessing it is to have a sister. In my experience at least, that's very true. I hope your daughter is excited about the prospect.

Maggie said...

I am only reading this now and I didn't know you were having a NEW BABY and OH CONGRATULATIONS!

I am so looking forward to reading whatever you post about a NEW BABY.