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This time, it will be different.

It has to be, right? This mommy is not the same as she was three years ago, when the Diva made her forced entrance into the world. This baby currently in utero, whom the Diva has dubbed Nemo, is not the Diva. Heíll be his own infant, with his own quirks and habits and desires. Any ideas I may harbor about him sharing some behaviors with the Diva Ė apart from the obvious like crying when he is hungry Ė are mere illusions. Moms who have more than one assure me that they are always different, no matter that the genetic material was the same. My only hope is that this one is the sort of different who actual sleeps for longer than 3 hours at a time by the time heís six months. That would be a nice change. Yes, yes, we want him to be healthy and have all of his digits (and other units). But if we can ask for something else on top of that, a good sleeper would rock. Unlikely, granted, but a gal can dream.

My deepest wish, however, is that enough time has passed that I will be different as well. Last time was so spectacularly weird and crappy that this time canít possibly sink that low. And if it does, frankly, I probably wonít survive it. Which would suck, but for different reasons. But I donít think itíll play out that way. If I did, how crazy would I have to be to do this again? This time, Iím going in with my eyes open. I know what can happen. So do my doctors and spouse and family and friends. Even if I suddenly spiral off into that wacky place, I figure at least one of the above will have their act together enough to throw a line in after me. Or some donuts. Iíll always come back for donuts. The truth is, I havenít really thought about it that much, the whole aftermath thing. Itís not that I havenít had a passing thought or two. It is always lurking in the background like the boob of Lady Justice behind Ashcroftís head. But Iím trying to not dwell. For most of this pregnancy, Iíve just been too busy with classes and writing and life and being pregnant with a three-year-old glued to my side. Now that the big writing project is done and the semester is over, I have a lot more time on my hands. Three years ago, this was when I truly started to freak out. But Iím not, currently, anywhere near a good wobbly. It helps that Iíve got a nice pharmaceutical load in my body, one that makes a good tizzy difficult to obtain (and to Tom Cruise I say, suck it, wacko). Plus, Iíve come up with all sorts of ways to divert my anxieties. The three-year-old helps, since her needs can be hard to ignore, now thatís sheís mastered whining. Iíve also been catching up on all of my reading, a project that will never end, fortunately. But the largest distraction has been my dammed knitting, a hobby that I re-took up when the Diva was no bigger than a loaf of Texas toast and that has now become a minor obsession. I actually now have a yarn closet and subscribe to every mag I can. Thatís okay. I mean, it could be compulsive about crack or cats or something really strange. When I feel the freak coming on, I pop in a book-on-tape and knit until I can breathe again.

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Until my last OB appointment just a few days ago, my homegrown therapy was getting the job done. With the Diva, I went two weeks late and had to be induced. I figured this one would follow that form. According to the numbers, I still have four weeks to go. But according to the internal exam, which is always such a good time for all involved, the babyís head has dropped as far as it can while still being in my body and Iím currently at 4 centimeters, with a ďstretchy and squishyĒ cervix. Iím not sure Iíve ever had my cervix called squishy before. Iím taking it as a compliment, simply because the same OB called it ďbeautifulĒ when I had my first prenatal exam.

Anyway, the dilation thing makes the idea of labor that much more immediate. While Iíve been assured that it probably wonít happen in the next 48 hours, it probably will happen well before the July 30 due date. Frankly, Iím not sure I buy this. I walked around at three cm for a good three weeks with the Diva. I think that my cervix, in addition to being squishy, just gets lazy towards the last bit of pregnancy and, like me, just canít quite keep its legs shut when sitting down. Still, I should be getting some useful stuff done -- or I would if I were a sane, sensible person. Where other women would dust or launder or return library books, Iím trying to turn a heel on my latest knitted sock so that I can have a good, mindless project to knit on during the whole labor/recovery boogie. Knitting ribbing, which will be all I have left after the dang heel, is so mind-numbingly dull that it makes for good meditation during even the most disturbing circumstances. I just have to make sure to keep it out of the blood and other assorted goo that comes with birthing babies.

Rest assured, weíve already made all of the necessary plans Ė the ones that donít involve niceties like household chores -- and are as prepared as we can be. Decisions are in place in order to protect my hard-won mental stability. One of which is that Iím not going to breastfeed, mostly because it was a major cause of lost sleep and serious angst last time around, which is another story for another day. And, yes, I know my kids will be fat and stupid because weíre taking the formula route. Iím OK with that, given the options. Besides, if they are fat and stupid, I stand a chance of keeping up with them. 

Now, though, I have nothing to do but wait. It was easier when Labor Day was months in the future. The could-happen-very-soon period is a little grating. I keep telling myself that this birth/ post-partum will be fine, in the long run, that it will bring me that much closer to wearing pants with actual waistbands, that I will finally sate my grinding, unbearable, nine-month-long craving for a nice cold gin and tonic (with the Diva, I had the same sort of undeniable lust for Brie and nearly ate my weight in it after her birth), that soon I can sleep on my belly and get up off the floor without a system of levers and weights, that soon I wonít waddle, and, most importantly, soon Iíll get to see what this little critter looks like.

Yet the past continues to lurk, ready to undermine any confidence Iíve built up over the last three years. Three-quarters of me is knitting it a nice, metaphorical muffler, to wrap around its filthy mouth. But that other one-quarter wonders if its prognostications of another breakdown will mock me in the end.
About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, and wife to Scott.


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