At week seventeen the fetus is about the length and weight of a stick of butter, and in the past two weeks S’s belly has puffed out to about the size of half a basketball. Last night, a friend’s almost immediate reaction was to rub the tummy. There’s no question: S’s got a baby in there.

We’ve found the new size has changed our relationship with the baby-to-be. A month ago it seemed abstract. We knew it was in there, and certainly S could tell something was happening in her body, but we couldn’t see or hear or touch it. This was why we got so excited when we heard the heartbeat. It confirmed the presence of a new life, it was something we could sense and associate as unique to the fetus.

Now, when S shifts around in bed at night, the bump of her uterus moves with its own weight. S has compared it to having a water balloon inside of her. When she lies on her side, her uterus rests against the bed, and I can cradle it in my hand. I’ve yet to feel any kicks, but it does feel different than her stomach – it radiates heat, and I swear I sense a gentle thrumming under my fingers, like an almost heartbeat, a slight fluttering.

It may be sensing us as well. At this point, it’s possible the fetus hears things – or hears might not be the right word – it may only be picking up on vibrations. We have some evidence of this. When S saw the midwives last week they wanted to check the baby’s heart. Right when the fetal monitor was turned on, S and the midwife heard the heartbeat – now a solid Pow! Pow! Pow! – but then it faded out. The midwife slid the monitor around and found it again, but again it disappeared as soon as she picked it up. The midwife tried for a few times before finally getting a good read. “You’ve got an active baby there,” she said. “It really doesn’t want me to find it.” She told S that the monitoring device sends out sound waves and that some babies don’t like it. It has enough room in there to squirm around, so we figure it was on the run from the machine. S was proud. When she told me the story she rested her hand on her tummy and said, “We’ve got a stubborn little baby!”

This scrapling of a trait has made it feel like the baby’s got a bit of a personality, like its in there, picking things up and maybe even reacting to them. When S walks down the street, she finds herself putting a hand on her stomach when she hears a loud noise. And when we see one another, I like to touch her stomach and say “hey baby,” as if it can tell I’m there. It’s like we’re not a couple anymore, we’re a trio. I don’t think we’re going too nuts here. It’s not like we’ve given it a name, or actually, we’ve given it a bunch of names, from embryo to bean, and this weekend we called it Hot Carl, but we’re not playing it music or carrying on conversations with it. And I refuse to talk in a high pitched voice. But we’ve started feeling like it’s not just me and S anymore, it’s me and S plus bump. And that bump’s got a mind and a life of its own. It’s pretty cool.


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