Pregnancy and the horse latitudes, what the last weeks and sailing have in common
Have you ever heard the phrase horse latitudes before? If you haven’t, don’t worry, it’s an outdated term with several different interpretations that the average person would have no call to know. The origins of the saying have absolutely no baring on what I’m about to tell you. That is, other than to briefly explain what it is so that you can better understand where I’m at right now.
The horse latitudes is an old sailing phrase that indicated that a ship had reached a location with calm waters and no crosswinds. Of course, this was prior to the days of two and four stroke engines. Are you impressed that I know that terminology, because you should be? With no prevailing winds, large ships would find themselves stalled out in the middle of the ocean. Supplies would begin to run short and sailors would start to panic.
The inhumane (and insane) fix for this often began with water rationing. The animals on board, specifically the horses, would bear the brunt of this solution. When the ships remained moored in the middle of the sea they would begin unloading their least precious cargo, the horses. This would both lighten their load and reduce the use of their finite resources.
Approaching ships would be alerted to the fact that they were entering the horse latitudes when they came upon the still waters filled with the bodies of dead and dying horses.
Are you appropriately depressed yet? Feeling like you, too, know too much about sailing for a Monday morning? Well, welcome to my world.
Also, welcome to my little spot on the map.
I am currently bobbing up and down in the stagnant waters of the horse latitudes of pregnancy. At just shy of 37 weeks I find myself at a standstill.
I am too fat, tired, and uncomfortable to do much of anything- other than lay on the couch and eat. I also find myself too nauseous to eat most of the time. And when I do feel up to eating, I can’t, because there is no more room at the inn. This baby has squandered all of my digestive real estate. A few bites of anything leave me feeling like I’ve eaten a full Thanksgiving dinner. My toddler, whom I love endlessly despite her rapid and wild decent into the terrible twos, doesn’t give a shit that I need rest. She still wants to run and wrestle and be carried from room to room, my needs be damned.
These are the horse latitudes of pregnancy. I am eager to be done his pregnancy so that I can begin moving. At the same time I am not quite ready to unload this cargo and have a newborn again.
I also don’t think that my goblin child sweet toddler is quite ready to relinquish her only child title, and to be promoted to big sister. Plus, she just started doing the thing that we do not speak of again. Am I really ready to give that up in the name of digestive prowess, and start all over again with cluster feeding and all-nighters?
She asks as though she has a choice…
The truth of it is that there is nowhere to go but forward at this point. I cannot return to the port I left. I can only slowly move on towards my next destination.
And yes, slowly is the only way I can do anything these days due to both my enormous size, and my cowboy-at-the-end-of-a-long-day-herding-cattle walk.
I complain about the horse latitudes and the doldrums and the endless discomforts in these moments, where time seems to stand still, but I know that some day I will miss it. And I know this because it wasn’t too long ago that I was missing my first pregnancy. These long days and seemingly infinite complaints fade away sooner than you could ever imagine.
Especially now, when I don’t know if this will be my last pregnancy. Someday I may long for these final weeks of stillness. Where seemingly nothing happens or will ever happen.
Where I spend an eternity with tiny feet moving across the top of my stomach. The endless days with the little hand reaching under my shirt to feel her “baby sister belly.”
Someday, when they are older and we are constantly on the move, I will miss the calm of the horse latitudes. I suppose that’s enough to keep me afloat for now. The knowledge that soon the winds will change and we will be moving again. The horses long gone behind us, and I will miss these days that I spent so much time wishing would end.