By Kristen Jordan Shamus
Editor’s note: This is Features Editor Kristen Jordan Shamus’s last column for a while. She’s set to deliver her son next week. Look for her Sunday column to return in the fall.
I’m a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.
I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there’s no getting off.
Poetry has never really been my bag. But this poetic riddle, “Metaphors” by Sylvia Plath, has always tickled me — no more so than now; I can so relate to her pregnancy musings.
I have grown to epic proportions, it seems. People’s eyes bulge a bit as they look at me, as if they’re afraid I might just burst open as I stand before them.
Yes, I’m nine months pregnant. I’m also short, and I tend to have big babies. There’s really nowhere to put a kid but out in front. And there’s no need to ask me whether I’m carrying twins, or if I’m sure there’s only one baby in there. An elephant, a ponderous house, indeed, Ms. Plath.
As the final uncomfortable days tick down, I try to divert my thoughts from my own wide girth to the baby, and what he’ll be like. To me, that’s the wonder of pregnancy. Surely, women’s bodies are incredible things to be able to accommodate another person inside our wombs, contorting, shifting, changing to nourish and fuel these little ones.
But the thing that keeps me going is thinking about the person my baby will grow up to be, and the anticipation of seeing his face for the very first time.
Will he have blue eyes or brown? Green, possibly? Will he be a redhead, or have thick, raven-black hair, like his sisters? Will he be laid-back or rambunctious or something in-between? And what does his future hold?
When my first daughter was born, I remember inspecting every last part of her, just to be certain she really was all right. Julia had the clearest blue eyes and such dark hair. I grieved a little when it all fell out.
Today, she’s a dreamy 6-year-old who loves to make up stories and draw and paint. Her eyes are still as blue as a pool of water, and her hair is brown.
When her sister was born, she had so much hair it stood up on her head; no amount of combing would make that black mane lie flat. Eventually, her hair fell out, too. The color of Sarah’s eyes shifted from blue to hazel to brown, although her deep-set dimples remain.
Three years later, Sarah is fiercely independent. She loves to read stories and climb, jump and run. And all she wants to do is help out — with the dishes, with cooking, with getting things ready for her “new baby brudder.”
I imagine the baby will be like his sisters in a lot of ways. He’ll probably be roly-poly and have a lot of dark hair at first. I pray that he’ll be a little calmer than his siblings were as infants. We could use one baby who sleeps more than 2 hours at a time and doesn’t have colic.
But no matter what type of child he ends up becoming, and no matter what he looks like, he’ll be loved. He’ll be cherished. He’ll be ours.