The Pregnant Life: Pregnanter Than I've Ever Been

Amy Keyishian

BabyCenter 29 Weeks
Photo from BabyCenter
You guys, check it out. This is the email that came in on Tuesday, when I started my 29th week. When I saw the words "butternut squash," it all came flooding back to me. Penelope was born when I was in my 29th week -- one day short of 30.

The size-comparison stuck in my mind because I had a work pal who thought the food comparisons were a hoot, and asked me to forward them to her each week. She'd IM me images of a Chinese cabbage or an heirloom tomato and say, "What a cute baby!" When I emailed her the birth story, she said, "I'm so glad you and little Butternut are doing so well."

The email says the baby should be 2.5 pounds, but P was 3 pounds, 7 ounces. (Thanks, giant lumberjack husband!)

There's a lot in there about her nutritional needs, and I soon found out how critical it was for her to be in there while her muscles were developing -- all that kicking is a workout for them. And it's eerie to think, well, I know just what Birdie looks like right now. I know she is skinny. I know she doesn't have eyelashes. I know her paper-thin skin is too sensitive for even a mother's touch, other than just holding her against me. I know her lungs might or might not work. I know she can't eat yet. I know way too much about the baby inside me this week because I've seen her.

I have friends in similar boats -- who've gone through bed-rest and early labor, or who had preemies themselves. One finds herself the same week pregnant at exactly the same time of year -- so the game of "this-is-the-week-when" is even more spooky and poignant for her.

I am not in pain. Well, I am, but in my hips, not my abdomen, and only when I try to do Bed-Bath and Trader Joe's in the same afternoon, with the 23-pound toddler in tow. I look solid and healthy, not puffy and weepy. I'm in good shape, but it's odd to think that in a few days, I'll be in uncharted territory. Most of the day it just feels strange, but at 3 a.m., I'll admit, I can get myself a little spooked.

Bah. Anyway. I'm a bit nervous, this week, about my maternity leave. As a freelancer, I don't have a lot of benefits. Like, any. My husband and I have been trying to build up savings, but the big freelance contracts I managed to scare up last time have not been forthcoming, and there are fewer hours in the day when a toddler is around. Pitching, hustling, nosing around for work -- let alone doing anything beyond the basics -- is way harder.

California has a specific type of disability for new moms -- six weeks of benefits 00 but you only get that if you've been paying into the system. My doctor's office has an administrator who deals specifically with filing the disability papers, but when I called her to find out how it works for freelancers, she was a bit flummoxed. I haven't been able to get through to the California EDD to find out more, though from what I remember, the amount is quite paltry; my employer had a special insurance policy to cover the rest and keep my income steady while I was on leave. No such luck this time around.

I found this article, by an old pal, about freelancers on maternity leave, but it didn't give me much advice beyond "save up now." Which I'm doing. So the next 10 weeks are going to be about austerity, self-control, and … man, I wish I were better at cutting corners!

Got savings strategies to share? How does your second pregnancy compare? Tell me in the comments!

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