Once I crossed the threshold of a school’s doors for the last time as a student (at the ripe old age of twenty-eight), a change overcame me. No longer was my favorite season represented by the hottest temperatures, longest days, and least amount of homework. I shifted my focus to a previously spurned time of yeara time of dwindling daylight, falling leaves, and cozy sweaters. AND BOOTS! (Along with decreased homework, the last decade of autumns have meant increased age and, therefore, sartorial comfort. Outerwear, thou art my friend.)
Three years ago, I was heavily pregnant during the fall. I decorated my belly for Halloween and hefted my growing weight around the kitchen, baking bread and nesting. Our son was born in early December of 2011. The singular benefit of that timeline for me was that I was not large and in charge during a Southeastern summer. This year, however, I type these words in September on a laptop propped against a gyrating belly. I suffered the summer months with barely-there dignity, the humidity and my contractions peaking way too often, and now that the weather is cooling and my girth nearly done expanding, I’m thinking more than ever about the benefits of fall. Especially for a woman about to give birth. Join me as I frantically talk myself into looking forward to this season’s offerings!
1) My first son’s December arrival meant that the holidays that year were a blur. The picture of our new family in front of the Christmas tree looks like a three-way mugshot: my husband and I smiling fakely with bloodshot eyes as we secretly wondered what we had done; our two-week old child decked out in red-striped gear and covered in spit-up; my jeans remaining unzipped under a flowing shirt. I think we ate turkey at some point? Cut to New Year’s, when we watched the ball drop from the TV in the nursery while I tried to get the kid to stay awake for nursing as I struggled to keep my own eyes open and silently willed Ryan Seacrest and my husband, with his milkless rack, to go to hell. Not a festive season by any measure.
2) The entertainment hiatus of winter, helped not at all by such illustrious offerings as “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” (a.k.a. The Mariah Carey Show) and all things Ryan Seacrest (see above), feels like a cultural wasteland if you, like me, equate TV with art (and this was before True Detective, so my position here is tenuous at best). That said, about the only thing a new mother has the brainpower for besides keeping her kid alive is clicking on the TV, and the only thing I had to look forward to that year was Downton Abbey and (God help me) Smashand they didn’t even show up until January. This year, I’ll be giving birth during premiere season. The DVR will be stocked alongside the bar. So whether I’m looking for laughs (ie, Danny Castellano playing the Frozen theme on The Mindy Project) or schadenfreude (I’m looking at you, cast of The Walking DeadMAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT MY OWN LIFE!), the offerings will be plenteous.
3) Sure, my pregnancy-geared Halloween costume three years ago was aces: my husband dressed as a basketball player and I painted my belly orange, arranged a net around it, and went as a ball being dunked in the goal. But I had to limit my candy and alcohol consumption as all around me, my neighborhood made like Bourbon Street. This year I may be an exhausted milkmaid, but I can employ the baby into our family costume for some laughsand in between feedings, throw sugar and liquor down my gullet with reckless abandon (at least until feeding time).
4) I have always loved bakingespecially when temperatures outside drop and the kitchen doesn’t turn into a sweat lodge whenever the oven is set to 350. The first time I was pregnant, I lived to bake: banana nut bread, pumpkin bread, pies of every sort. This year, I bake to live because there ain’t no way I’m cooking dinner on the reg when I am dinner for one hungry infant, so the family better get ready for some carbo-bloating and sugar highs. Also, the sound of the oven will be my own brand of white noise to keep me sane during the baby’s crying jags. I just love baking in the fall!
5) With the shorter days and colder temps of fall comes an introvert’s dream: fewer people out and about. Giving birth in the fall means I won’t have to hear the joyful squeals of children at the pool, reminding me of a carefree existence I’ll never personally know again. Those children will be stuck inside, bent over homework assignments that their helicopter parents are completing for them. And there I’ll be, trying out NBC’s new fall lineup with the smell of burning bread filling the air and my baby’s cries in the background.
I realize that picking your child’s birthdate is not a luxury everyone gets; sometimes, for example, you start trying for #2 and God apparently has stepped away from the phone and finally answers you a year later. But for my money, fall births are where it’s at. There is, of course, the aforementioned possibility that I’m talking this up to ease my nerves about the upheaval about to occur within our household. But something tells me that these things happen when they’re meant to, and that with a little help from Starbucks’ fall menu (I love you, artificial chemical pumpkin flavor! Never leave me!) and a good team behind me (can someone find my husband? I think he escaped again), I’ll make it through this season just fine. Or alive, at least. Happy fall!