On the precipice of parenthood

 

At 35 weeks pregnant with her first child, Nicky Sandler shares where she is at on the motherhood journey.

Nicky Sandler

“I hope you’ve got a name picked out for a boy!”

I smile neutrally at the well-meaning woman I pass in the hallway of the pilates studio where I have just finished my morning class. Walking to my car, enjoying the warm stretchiness I feel throughout my body and the extra centimetres I’m sure I’ve grown in the past hour, I’m once again bemused by the unshakable conviction those around me have about my unborn child.

I am 35 weeks pregnant with my first baby and have been amazed, baffled and at times brought to tears by the world’s response to me (and my belly) over the past eight or so months.

There is something archetypal about a pregnant woman, something sacred and beautiful that seems radiate from deep within which moves suited businessmen to smile shyly during rush hour in the city’s centre, or the local grocer to engage warmly in conversation which ends up with her speaking proudly of her own children, now fully-grown. In my experience, being pregnant inspires an openness and invites an opportunity for connection that might not otherwise have been available. Never before have I had so many people smile at me, enquire about my wellbeing and shower me with compliments on my appearance. In the Big City where so much of the time we’re rushing from A to B, absorbed in our own worlds, barely aware of those around us, this communication, this relating, an unexpected windfall of pregnancy, has been beautiful and humbling.

Of course, there’s the flip side – everyone is an expert and has that one pearl of wisdom they just have to share with you (“people are going to give you a lot of advice – don’t listen to any of them – but take it from me, if there’s one thing you need to know/do/buy…”) The tidal wave of often conflicting information I’ve received as a mum-to-be at every stage of my pregnancy has, at times, been overwhelming.

From the truckload of pre-natal vitamins I simply had to take, to the birthing classes we just couldn’t miss (and this is before we even get to breast pumps and prams!) the road to parenthood seemed to be a rather confusing – and expensive – one. But perhaps this is where mother’s intuition starts to kick in. As my husband and I waded through brochures and blogs, the words of family and friends ringing in our ears, we started making decisions, often without rhyme or reason, as to what felt right for us and our baby.

I began to hear an inner voice, albeit a very quiet one, gently nudging me this way and that. As my pregnancy progressed, I felt a growing sense of surety in myself and the decisions I was making. And while I still second-guess myself, there is now a sense of quiet confidence, a solidity of self that is very new, very fragile but unmistakably there.

Being pretty much the last in our families and circle of friends to start a family, I have many extraordinary little people around me, and have been fortunate to witness the triumphs, the tears, the Terrible Two’s (or is it now the Terrible Three’s?) and much more. I know this is just the beginning of a lifetime of decisions about what’s best for my child. I’m sure I’ll make some great decisions and some very bad ones too. I still don’t know how I feel about controlled crying, at what point I should try to introduce a bottle, or how early is too early for day care. But as I stand on the precipice of parenthood, I feel enormous gratitude for that quiet little voice that seemed to arrive just shy of nine months ago.