On October 9, 2009, my friend Deborah gave birth (on her birthday!) to her first kid.
This was the first baby I’d seen from start to finish. And I’d really SEEN it, since Deb taught the classes I took ever Monday and Wednesday evening at the gym. I started taking her classes in the fall of 2007, and continued to take them through 2008. It was the Wednesday class where I tore my right calf muscle, and I had to skip class for a couple of months in order for my leg to heal. But as soon as it was better, I went right back.
I got to know quite a few people over the years in Deb’s classes. There was a core group of regulars, and we each knew each other by name. There were engagements, weddings, grandbabies, and IVF attempts. It felt a little bit like Cheers, except instead of drinking beer we flailed around on steps and lifted dumbbells.
I noticed that Deb, typically lithe and wee, started changing shape sometime around late February last year. I didn’t think much of it, because I knew she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for quite some time, and considering she taught an average of 3 exercise classes a day, 7 days a week, I knew it wasn’t a plethora of cheeseburgers. When she finally couldn’t hold in her belly anymore, she told us all that she was pregnant and due October 15.
Over the months, I watched her body grow and change. By September she had the typical basketball-under-the-shirt, only-pregnant-from-the-front/side look of a thin, athletic woman, and she still managed to teach all of her regular classes for the duration of the pregnancy, even in the hottest parts of the summer. Looking at her was my motivation for continuing to push myself, even when I didn’t feel like it, because if Deb could do it at x months’ pregnant, knowing she’d already taught 2 classes that day, I could do it. It wasn’t until a week or two before she stopped teaching that Deb started looking run-down and tired, and she stopped doing everything full out in her classes. She was totally superwoman.
I knitted a blanket and a jester-style hat for the baby, and Dan and I went to the shower, a few days after Deb taught her last class. Baby P was born a week early, the best birthday present she could have gotten.
The person who teaches Deb’s classes now teaches in a style that I don’t really like, so I have stopped going to them. I miss the cameraderie of the group, but the new teacher annoys me so much that I just can’t bring myself to go very frequently. I’ve kept in touch with Deb via facebook, and on Friday she brought 4.5 month-old P on his first trip downtown. She parked outside my building, and together we walked down the mall to have lunch together. I spent my time wisely, holding P, nomming on his face and neck, watching him smile, all the while picking Deb’s brain about her experience as a new first-time mom and hearing her birth story. Everything is going well – he’s a natural eater, and her boobs work so well he’s currently 18 pounds of deliciousness. He looks just like his daddy, aside from Deb’s red hair. She made a person, and I got to see the process twice a week for the entire 9 months.
After lunch, we walked around outside for a while, P snoozing in the stroller, and I marveled at how much she’d changed, and at the same time how much she was still very much herself. I felt honored to be able to spend that time with her and with her new little one, very much his own person outside of her body, and Deb mostly feeling like herself again. I’m sure becoming a parent changes people in deep and fundamental ways, but it’s nice to see friends who go through that change come out pretty much the same on the other side.