Thursday, June 2, 2011

Belly Button out of Joint

I noticed today that my belly button is a little off.  I'm not talking about the usual protruding-through-her-tee- shirt look all pregnant women get eventually (or in my case, about two months along this pregnancy).  I mean it's off-center.  For most people, male or female, pregnant or not, their belly buttons point in the same direction as their noses.  Mine now points slightly to the right.  For whatever reason, I'm off balance, a little uneven, helter-skelter, disheveled, off-sided, unsymmetrical, disproportionate, lopsided . . . I've got more! 

Perhaps the muscles on one side of my belly are more elastic than the other.  Maybe it's the way Benjamin is positioned.  Is it possible my navel has always been that way, but it takes a third pregnancy for me to notice?  The world may never know, and is most likely to never care.  I only mention it at all, because it seems to be a pretty accurate parallel to how I'm feeling.  The "of course" last-straw element that explains my mood.  We all have those little things.  The bad day you knew was coming, and naturally begins with you dropping your bowl of cereal onto your lap.  It happens, we sigh, look towards the heavens, and call the little event a "sign".  Then we move on with whatever trial we knowingly had scheduled.

I knew it'd be hard being so pregnant with my husband deployed.  Nothing has come as a surprise.  My evening heartburn kicks in about the same time my four-almost-five-year-old has a break down and starts screaming, and my two-year-old tells me she's had a potty training accident, again.  The exhaustion, the achey muscles, the too-frequent doctor's appointments, which mean babysitters, and driving, and waiting, all for a 5 minute examination and a "see ya in a few weeks" diagnosis, were to be expected.  It's funny how the knowledge that this is exactly how it'd be doesn't really make it easier. 

I know what you're thinking.

"But you're almost done!"
"Your husband will come home soon!"
"You're almost full term!"
"You're so close, aren't you happy it's almost over?"

No.  Because it's not over.  "Almost" brings no relief.  Why is it that?  Why is the last lap the hardest?  Theoretically it shouldn't be.  After so much effort, the last little bit should seem like nothing.  Yet we know from experience it's nothing like "nothing".  Think of something physically challenging you've done, and think about how you felt when you were almost done.  Did you suddenly have an extra burst of energy, and found it was over quickly, leaving you with a glorious feeling of accomplishment?  If you did, you have a special talent for glamorizing the past.

I remember climbing a mountain while my husband and I were still dating.  I saw the first of our group reach the top, and I sighed, thinking of my aching, trembling knees.  The advanced hikers were only about 20 minutes ahead of us, and yet those 20 minutes dragged on like the slow drip of a leaky faucet.  I kept myself going by imagining the incredible view we'd have at the top.  By the time I reached it however, I was so tired, I hardly looked around.  It was pretty, breathtaking even, if my breath hadn't already been taken by the extreme effort it took to get there.  Usually when we finish something difficult, the strongest emotion is relief rather than triumph.  Triumph comes later, after we've recovered somewhat, and suppressed the memory of the pain.

I think I've done this deployment routine too many times.  Perhaps so much that I've trained myself to expect the last few weeks to feel like they're the longest.  For so many obvious reasons, I'm tired, I'm off balanced, not straight, ready to fall over.  The future brings nothing but relief and good things, and all I can think about is how I'm not there yet.

So what is the answer to this part-of-life dilemma?  It's as obvious as my off-centered protruding navel in my those-don't-fit-anymore-because-I'm-in-my-last-month maternity tops. 

Keep pluggin' away.

I'm the old man with the ladder from the children's story Tikki Tikki Tembo. "Step over step, step over step, step over step"

I'm Dori from Disney's Finding Nemo. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming"    

I'm the blue engine from The Little Engine that Could. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!"

One day finished is one day closer to the end.  Yesterday I cleaned the house after a week of being sick.  Well, except for the bathrooms, which are still gross, and the laundry that still needs to be put away and the last load folded.  I did finish the vacuuming though. 

Today is my parents' 29th anniversary!  They are living proof that love survives hardship.  Proud parents of five, and even happier grandparents of almost four, they have much to celebrate.  This whole "never giving up even when it's hard" thing works.  I know it does.  I'm not giving up.  I'm just complaining a little.  Beneath my verbose complaints does lie a true attempt at optimism.  My hormones are in overdrive (shocking, huh?) and I've felt overdue for a date.  What better day than today?  29 years ago today my parents made a sacred commitment to each other, and although still watching from above, to me.  I couldn't go on a real date, obvoiusly.  So I did what I could think of as "the next best thing".  I put on makeup, and since we missed church last Sunday due to yucky colds, that was a first in over a week and half.  I dressed as nicely as possible considering the watermelon tummy.  I put on the necklace my mom gave me for Christmas, and the earrings my husband gave me before he deployed for the holidays.  I even brushed and styled Anny's hair, for which she was not grateful even though it did look cute.  We had a delicious lunch at Wendys.  The service was pathetic, we waited for our "fast food" for 15 minutes, and I had to go back to the counter 4 times for items they forgot to give us.  However they have a new berry salad, it's very good.  I purchased tickets to that great romantic comedy Kung Fu Panda II.  The movie was silly . . . ok, stupid, but we still had a good time.  Evening is now approaching, which will bring on the bedtime routine, and one more day to tick off. 

I wonder if the little blue engine would have made it if she were expecting, and carrying a few cute little blue cars of her own?  Perhaps the broken down circus train wouldn't have asked her for help.  Nah- who am I kidding?  Of course they would have asked!  They would have taken one look at her, observed her overflowing coal car and little blue cabooses in tow, seen she was a train with hidden strength, unafraid of a challenge, and known she'd say "yes".     

Did you note the airplane in the background?  He's also symbollic to my life, and definitely belongs in the picture.  I think ya'll can figure out how without my addition of another paragraph or three to this post.   




  1. I Love You Liz! Hang in there...I remember all too well the "end" of my pregnancy & you know most certainly does not get easier. The only thing that got me through my last pregnancy was picturing myself holding Wyatt in my arms & that will be what get's me through all the other ones. I honestly don't like being pregnant but it's so worth it in the end (not that I have to tell you already have two little princesses). You are Amazing!! Benjamin is a very lucky little boy to have you as his mommy.

  2. He's coming! He's coming!

    By that I mean both! Benjamin will be here before you know it and so will Scott! I know how strong you are and you are Dori, and the little engine that could. Because I have seen you in action Liz. You got this! I would like to quote Stacey, "Just roll with it" those are the best words I can come up with. you got this girl. We are all here for you too. You know that.

    Love you