Soha Ali Khan On Being 9 Months Pregnant & Loving It
“My hospital bag is ready - by ready I mean I have packed the latest Jo Nesbo thriller and my coming home outfit.”
“Are we there yet?”
Do you remember taking long drives with your parents on family trips when you were young? I remember annual jaunts to Kasauli and Mussoorie from our home in Delhi in our white Ambassador Mark IV, the king of Indian roads. My sister and I would play games to pass the time such as counting red coloured cars or out of state license plates, but eventually (about 20 minutes into the journey) we would get impatient and start asking that question parents dread to hear the most.
“Are we there yet?”
The answer to this was almost always a variation of, “not long now”, “we’ll be there before you know it” or some arbitrary number such as “20 minutes” – unless it was my father who would simply say, “No.”
The kind of impatience I felt as an eight-year-old sitting in the backseat of the car, I haven’t felt for a very long time – until now.
A Nine-Month Migration From Womanhood to Motherhood
I am currently on one of the most important journeys of my life – a nine-month migration from womanhood to motherhood – and as much as the ride so far has been swift and smooth (barring the one obvious and welcome bump) as I enter the final stretch, I simply cannot wait to get there!
Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, three months apiece.
For me, the first trimester was full of wonder and excitement – I had about three weeks of morning sickness, which really should be renamed progesterone poisoning because not only does it merit a more momentous moniker, it can also strike at any time of the day and for many women be their cruel and constant companion – but apart from that and the odd eruption on my jaw, I was fine.
My second trimester was marked by mind-boggling milestones such as feeling the baby kick for the first time, watching my bump develop and expand and buying my first set of maternity clothes.
The seventh and eighth months have also been relatively kind to me but the ninth month is proving to be a fiendish foe. It started out benignly enough with some stiffness in my knuckles a couple of weeks ago – my OBGYN is not one to get hot and flustered easily and so when I told him my fingers ached, his response was, “that’s just old age”. Cheeky but oddly reassuring in its dismissiveness.
Having a Huge Bowling Ball As My Belly
Since then, it seems there has been a veritable assault on my system ranging from indigestion to insomnia. I now no longer fit into any of my carefully curated maternity clothes barring the largest ones that seem fashioned more from burlap sacks than boutique racks!
My engagement ring, the one precious adornment I habitually wore, sits sullenly on my bedside table, taunting me. Every morning I struggle to put it on my swollen finger, like one of Cindarella’s step-sisters straining to squeeze their portly paws into the dainty glass slipper.
I can’t remember the last time I took a satisfyingly deep breath that filled my lungs with air. If you are under 5 feet 5 inches (like me) and are temporarily housing an average sized baby inside you, it is safe to say that by your third trimester your organs have been flung aside to make way for a burgeoning uterus.
Your bladder has been flattened to a pancake and your liver has been shoved up your throat. Your diaphragm is pushed upwards compressing your lungs and limiting their ability to expand, causing you to feel like you have run a marathon when all you’ve done is bend over to tie your shoelaces.
Speaking of bending over, you know you’re reaching the end of your pregnancy when you drop something and can’t be bothered to pick it up anymore. This huge bowling ball gets in the way and it’s just not worth the effort.
I tried training Masti, our beagle, to retrieve fallen objects but unless it’s something she can eat, she can’t be bothered either. So now what I do is send snapshots of fallen objects and their locations to our house help who kindly do the needful.
I Was Worried I Would Cough the Baby Out
The latest and perhaps the most bothersome symptom of the ninth month torment is heartburn which feels exactly how it sounds, like a burning sensation in your chest. I’m told it’s caused by the growing baby putting pressure on the muscle that keeps food down in the stomach leading to acids leaking up and out, causing acid reflux.
Certain foods make acid reflux worse and of course those would be exactly the foods that I now have an insatiable craving for – chocolate, garlic and mint. So now whatever I eat, my staple dessert is always an antacid, this pregnant woman’s best friend.
Just this morning the reflux triggered a coughing bout which lasted the better part of an hour. I was so worried all that hacking was putting too much pressure on my uterus and that I would cough the baby out that I called my doctor in a panic. He was his usual unflappable self and assured me that it takes a lot more effort than a cough to push a baby out.
When will that final push happen? My hospital bag is ready – by ready I mean I have packed the latest Jo Nesbo thriller and my coming home outfit – so I may be missing some essentials.
“Are we there yet?”
I check my expected due date several times a day in the desperate hope that it has moved up but of course it’s always the same. The answer comes to me like a familiar and comforting voice from the past, “not long now.”
(Soha Ali Khan is an Indian film actor. You can follow her on Twitter @sakpataudi.)
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