Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Head Ninja

The first time we saw our baby he appeared a mere blinking dot. The second time, he looked like a tadpole. The third time, we saw a little baby ninja, kicking furiously and with a massive head, nearly as big as the length of his entire body. The understanding, loving parents that we are, we pointed at his disproportionate head and started laughing, christening him "Big Head" under the disapprovingly raised eyebrow of our sonographer. 

We have had two anatomical ultrasounds and both times I carefully counted that all digits and appendages were there along with the sonographer, asking the sonographer to confirm to the point of annoyance that she also saw five fingers that coiled together to make a punch, which very clearly were directed at the sonographer herself (our little Big Head does not appreciate the disturbance of ultrasounds). Possibly it was my critical Eastern European mindset, but on observing my son's facial features, I noticed that he had what appeared to be an overbite and quizzed the sonographer as to her opinion on the issue, already wondering where the good orthodontists were in NYC that accepted our insurance. I was quickly told that the ultrasound pictures were blurry, particularly because our little Big Head ninja was practicing his gymnastic routine and that I had years to go before I should worry about braces. Satisfied with the response, I enjoyed watching my little ninja tumble around in earnest reaction to the ultrasound. 

I have read that babies do not like ultrasounds and our son clearly evinced that a) he noticed the ultrasound and  b) that he did not care for its disturbance of his haven (this does not surprise me considering that I found the pressure on my abdomen during the ultrasounds to be less than pleasant). When the post 8 week ultrasounds began, our little ninja was serene and sleeping (or possibly meditating) until the sonogrpapher went to town and pushed this way and that all over his little body to get pictures of his various anatomical features. He awoke with a fury and as a rockstar avoiding the paparazzi, flailed, turned, covered his face and punched in the direction of the ultrasound so that no magazine cover eventuated and his parents were left with Picasso-esque portraits of his form (quite suited to the fact that his mother is an abstract painter). Even before his birth, he managed to thoroughly reduce the spirits of his examiner, who couldn't get the better of him and resigned herself to both blurry pictures and a conclusion that our son "was indeed a fighter." This was not surprising considering the temperament of his Balkan parents, whose tempers are as tame as the bulls in Pamplona during the encierro.  

The first time I felt our son kick, I had just started my 21st week and was lying on a bed, perusing my good friend's pictures of her time in Senegal. I was as surprised as excited. I had felt him for some weeks previously, what I have read termed as "fluttering" but what I would more readily describe as the feeling of noticing that something is swimming inside of you, which caused me to momentarily wonder whether I had ingested a live fish that somehow triumphed over my stomach acids, but had not yet felt a kick. Kicks are a miraculous, amazing feeling. I can't help bursting into ebullient laughter. Before a kick, even with the slimy fish routine, pregnancy can appear a little abstract. You feel fatigued, emotional, hungry or nauseated and then your belly starts to increase, but it's only when your little one gives you a ninja kick to say "hey, I'm here!" that your mothering instincts are charged into full swing (or at least this was my experience). Lately, our little footballer has been moving daily and kicking with more force, more times, each day as if influenced by the World Cup. He recently kicked just as Brazil scored against Costa Rica, so I garnered he was going for the home team and will be announcing to him the plays against their match with Germany tomorrow.

It is quite surreal to feel a wholly different person inside of you. For one thing, we are a different sex (I have impolitcally teased my husband at times that I have a penis now - but it's true!). More strangely, I have noticed that we sleep at different times. Sometimes I awake to find him kicking and squirming so that he was awake and active when I was asleep and generally when I am active, he is either asleep or at least serene so I do not feel him - we have separate consciousnesses - which I abstractly knew of course beforehand, but now I can directly sense. 

I have begun to speak more and more to my son and when he kicks, I wonder whether he hears me and his kicks are a way of communicating with me. In an effort to make communication easier, I have asked him yes or no questions and when he kicks in response, I stand proud for one second, believing my tactic has worked and then accept defeat as I realize my pyrrhic victory in not being able to discern whether his kick was for the affirmative or the negative in the situation, knowing I cannot differentiate his response based on the number of kicks, before I have taught him to count (leaving aside the fact that he most probably does not have a mastery of either English nor Serbian to understand what I am telling him in the first place). However, as he readily kicks when I speak to him, I cannot but believe that we are communicating on some level, even if it is as primitive as him understanding that I exist and his kicks telling me that he exists. 

As his kicks have become more forceful as he gets bigger, I wonder whether soon he will be cramped and run out of space, thus directing his frustration at my nearby organs, including my bladder - ah, the joys of pregnancy! I've been trying to reason with him on the space issue to preempt any such bladder attacks. First, I have politely pointed out to him that he should bear in mind that he can also grow outside of the womb, which increase would probably be more comfortable for us both. Second, I have noted that he can't expect much space being a New Yorker after all. We all have to compromise and discover devious ways of utilizing space. Unfortunately, I believe he is being true to form and finding that sliding his feet up between my ribs does the trick. Easy there, fella, you actually have it much better  than most New Yorkers - rent control, central air, food included and no need for closet space! I trust I have persuaded my little tenant, whom I cannot evict for a few more months whatever his behaviour, to be more accepting of his current digs. 

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