6 Early Signs of Labor... Undocumented Until Now!

Self on 04.19.11
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Photo: Self portrait, Jessica McFadden.

Sure, you can wait until you're in the final weeks of pregnancy, or your obstetrician tells you that you're two centimeters dilated and 50 percent effaced, as indications that your baby may be coming any day now.  There's also phenomenon like the "nesting instinct" (that random urge you get to organize all your Christmas ornaments...in April) and the passing of mucus plugs (if you don't know what this is, please, please don't look for this in Google images...trust me).  

But in the last weeks of countdown until baby, there are also some other, very weird indications that a small human will soon be expelled from your body:

1. Irritation with bizarre things which have nothing to do with impending motherhood, such as rows of stuffed animals in motorists' rear windows, and the stocking of orange circus peanut candy at eye level at the grocery store while M&M's require crouching to retrieve.

2. Explosive burps due to extreme heartburn. These belches will erupt without warning, usually mid-sentence with work supervisors and during parent-teacher conferences.

3. Inconsistent behavior, often evidenced in the refusal to cook any food at all one day and then creating more baked goods than the DC Cupcakes women the next. Also may manifest in severe annoyance that your mother and mother-in-law are calling every day to ask "Sooo, have you had that baby yet?" and then acute depression when they don't call because OMG you're about to have a BABY, hello? 

4. Misplaced identity. You truly cannot recognize your own reflection in the mirror. When walking past shop windows you catch yourself training your best pitying smile on the massive mutant pod person walking next to you, only to realize that the reflected mutant is you.

5. Cross-dressing, as the only clothing you can now fit into are your husband's largest gym pants and college rugby shirts that once concealed his nightly beer pong habit. This mannish look is enhanced by the pregnancy hormones' causing of increased hair growth, which will give even women with a standing weekly waxing appointment a Charlie Chaplin-esque mustache.

6. Constant commentary from strangers. Lest you think that the signs of impending labor only apply to your own body, your altered state will also cause bizarre behaviors in those around you. Expect sharp intakes of breath and uncontrolled outbursts of "Whoa!", "Wow", "Jeesh" and the oft-whistled "Dang girl!" from others when venturing out in public. Your pregnant form may even induce more creative manifestations of this sign, case in point, my neighbor who bursts into the theme song from Fat Albert when I happen to waddle by his front gate. [Editor's note to pregnant ladies: For best comebacks to said outbursts, check out 10 Best Comebacks to Stupid Pregnancy Comments, from our friends at The Stir.]

I hope that this list of previously undocumented signs of impending labor is helpful to all couples in their last months of pregnancy.  I personally find it very comforting to remember that this is a temporary condition, which will soon be outdistanced in physical shock value by labor, lactation and the paradox of how 11 pounds of poop can daily be expelled from a seven pound baby.


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