While pregnant with my third child, I had “Barbie doll leg syndrome” – the term I used to describe the feeling that my leg had disengaged from my body and was only being held together by a rubber band stretched through the socket. It was painful – almost to the point that labor sounded like a picnic. Daily life of a mother of two active boys, ages 3 and 6, became especially difficult as I dragged my leg, a foot behind (pun intended), trying not to show my limp.
Whether motivated to get me to stop whining or just being thoughtful, my loving husband suggested I get a massage. The thought of an hour of supine silence sounded too good to be true.
It was. My massage therapist must have had too much coffee, or just a genuine interest in me, because she was far from silent. “When are you due?” “Is it twins or triplets?”
That question usually began for me shortly after the 2nd stripe showed on the pregnancy test – when people couldn’t believe my large size for just one baby. I felt like someone had changed my name to “Dang, girl!” because that was clearly how everyone greeted me. “Dang, girl! I thought you weren’t due for months!” “Dang, girl! What are you eating?” “Dang, girl! How many are in there?! Are you sure they didn’t make a mistake?”
A flight attendant once stopped me from getting onto a plane when I was barely halfway through my pregnancy. She was obviously nervous by my size, as if I were about to give birth. She asked, “Can you fly?”
Insulted, and without slowing my walk into the jet-way, I replied, “in a plane!”
“Wow, you look pregnant from behind now,” a male co-worker shared.
“The only thing she’s splitting these days is her pants!” someone humorously (yes, I thought it funny! – better to laugh than cry) answered a waitress when she asked if I would be splitting my fajitas for dinner.
My kneecaps had disappeared in a pudge of fluid, not to appear again until after birth. When I bent to tie my shoe, I would think, “What else can I do while I’m down here?”
My massage therapist continued the questions, and my dream of a silent hour vanished.
“Are you having twins?” (no. And yes I AM SURE.)
“When are you due?” (4 weeks)
“Are you nervous about labor?”
This was really a trick question, because I was nervous about one part of labor. See, you might remember that I had no labor with my 2nd boy. He arrived after 4 contractions, before the ambulance arrived, actually before I had even gone down to the first floor of our house. My mother and Chris delivered Nate, although I like to say he delivered himself (9.5 lbs!) and they caught him.
Earlier during this pregnancy, my doctor had asked a similar question, “Are you nervous about delivering at home again?”
I said, “No. I’m nervous about delivering in the grocery store!”
But, in a continuous attempt to get this massage all the way to silence, I answered shortly, “No, I’m not nervous. I am actually excited to find out if it is a boy or a girl.”
“You don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl?! Are you kidding?! Aren’t you going to find out?!”
“Well I hope so; I’ll have to dress it,” my normal comeback to that normal question.
This caused controversy for the rest of the hour, as she questioned why I didn’t find out and how I could possibly wait, knowing I already had two boys – wasn’t I dying to know if it was a girl?
The hour was over; my dream of silent relaxation was crushed. I got off of the massage table, putting pressure back onto my leg joint, and my leg was still disconnected. After I paid the receptionist, my therapist popped her head into the lobby for a final goodbye. As I limped away, she yelled from behind: “Good luck with that sex!”
I quickly felt the need to interpret the statement for every stranger now watching me hobble unevenly in the waiting room, “She means gender! Gender…of the baby! I am having ONE baby in FOUR WEEKS and I don’t know the GENDER, so she is telling me ‘good luck with that GENDER!’”
My daughter was born one week later…in the hospital.