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Tales From The Crib

We used to call you &

145;Chickpea&

Five months before my oldest daughter, who turned 6 this summer, was born, my husband and I started keeping a journal for her. As I wrote in her journal, I worried something might happen and I might lose the pregnancy. That made keeping written notes of her gestation and early days even more important.

Dear Chickpea (that&

s what we call you because, even though you&

re bigger now, once you were the size of a chickpea),

Last week you were in the rain forest in Costa Rica and you had a bath in volcanic hot springs. We also went on a tree canopy tour. First I climbed up a ladder, attached to an 800-year-old kapok tree, that was 80 feet high. Up in the top of the trees we were attached to a steel cable and, like Tarzan, and we swung from one platform to another. Your father loved it; he wasn&

t afraid at all. My hands started sweating from fear but after realizing I wasn&

t going to fall, I started enjoying it too.

We saw a family of howler monkeys. They are small and have dark brown fur. When they feel threatened they make a ferocious roaring noise. They found us completely unthreatening, though. One monkey decided to urinate right on us, to show us who really had the upper hand.

We like to talk to you, even though you probably can&

t hear very well yet. James plays you classical music by putting the speakers on my growing belly. He says you talked to him and told him if you were a boy or a girl (we&

re not going to find out), but he won&

t tell me what you said. I tell him it&

s not good to encourage secrets from Mommy at such an early age. So we compromised. He&

s going to write down what you said and put it in a sealed envelope. After you&

re born I&

ll open the envelope to see if he was right.

Dear Chickpea,

We saw you on the sonogram this morning! Even though I can&

t always feel it, you move around all the time. Your feet were crossed Indian style and you looked very happy, energetic, and well protected. We got to see the four chambers of your heart, and watch it beat, and we also saw you sucking and drinking amniotic fluid. We have some pictures that the technician printed out for us. She said you weigh about 14 ounces.

Dear Chickpea,

My bellybutton, always an innie, has started to protrude. You and I went on a bike ride today, along the bike path. Last night James and I saw the newest Star Trek movie. You kicked ferociously throughout. You were the only one of the three of us who got excited by the movie (and I worried it was too loud and overwhelming for you), which was terrible.

Dear Chickpea,

The doctors told us I was &

measuring small&

(It&

s hard to imagine that it&

s really true. I feel like I&

m as big as a house). My theory about it is that it&

s because I&

ve been exercising a lot. This week I&

ve gone biking or swimming every day. Yesterday I swam 40 laps. The cool water and feeling of buoyancy are invigorating and relaxing at the same time. Before I was pregnant I loved going downhill at breakneck speed (your father was usually more cautious); now I try to be careful but I still bike fast. As I write this, lying on my left side, your feet are pitter-pattering below my right ribs.

Today James learned that a peachick is the offspring of a peahen and a peacock. You&

re our little peachick. On the sonogram you had lots of hair and stick-outy ears.

Dear Chickpea,

People look at me oddly when I&

m carrying a big box or bicycling swiftly. At the grocery store (a funky organic foods place) the dreadlocked man at the checkout counter saw my helmet and asked me where my bike was. &

You pregnant?&

he said with a smile. &

Still riding your bike!&

He wasn&

t judgmental, just admiring.

&

I&

m not handicapped,&

I told him, &

just encumbered.&

I&

ve been thinking a lot about labor &

I try to imagine the terrible pain of a contraction and then imagine myself relaxing through it, paying attention to the pain but not fighting it. It&

s a good pain &

the more intense it is, the more it&

s working to bring you closer to me. I already love you so much &

the thought of getting to see you makes any pain seem bearable.