In the IT world, large software development projects happen in stages. The first stage is a blueprint, sketched out hastily on a whiteboard. The second stage is in development, where developers actually write the code. The third stage is integration, where the new, fresh code is blended into existing, working code to make sure there are no compatibility issues. In integration, code can break, compatibility can break, and whole parts of software functions can be rewritten without consequence. It’s not code in the real world. It’s still on the scratch pad. The third stage is QA, quality assurance, where the software is tested even more rigorously to make sure it doesn’t break anything and that it works as it should with all the other systems the company has.
The last stage is when the code is released out into the world. At this point, the code lives in a sacred area called production. The process of releasing this code is called pushing to prod. Live code, such as what you see when you go to Amazon.com or the system your bank uses to allow you to withdraw money, is in prod. There can’t be any mistakes in prod, and production can’t break, because real people use it to do real things.
For this reason, developers are very superstitious and protective of code going live. One of the main superstitions, borne out of logic, is that you never push to prod on Friday, no matter what. All kinds of things can break, and no one wants to spend a weekend fixing them. Usually developers will also try not to jinx this code by talking it up or being overly optimistic about it. They are pushing something that is warm and live and fragile out into the world, something that has the potential to soar or fail spectacularly in front of thousands of users.
I have been getting ready for my own push to prod. The development of a baby is much harder and much scarier than developing software, and there are many more moving parts that have to work together in order for a baby to be born, God willing, healthy. Even though it’s a process I have almost no control over, other than not eating sushi and going to the doctor when I need to, I am terrified of doing anything to compromise it. For this reason, I am scared to post anything, either on the blog, or on Facebook, or anywhere in public where it might catch the dreaded evil eye. Writing, taking pictures of my belly, baby showers, all have come harder for me than most of the women I see online, baring their bellies with ease, preparing nurseries, making fun gender reveal videos.
But at the same time, not writing about her seems ingenue, like I’m hiding part of my life. Being pregnant has split me in two. One half of my mind is always on the baby,tucked safely in the back of my consciousness, no matter what I’m doing. I can’t do anything without thinking about the baby. She is always there, with me, even when she is not kicking, and it seems ridiculous to think that I can nonchalantly write about a book I’m reading, a restaurant I visited, a class I’m taking, without also shouting it from the rooftops, “Oh by the way, GUESS WHAT THERE IS SOMETHING GROWING INSIDE OF ME! SHE’S 35 WEEKS OLD TODAY! BABY! BABY! BABY!”
But when I do start to write about it, I think that maybe I shouldn’t, since she will want to control her own life narrative. How much of this experience is mine, and how much is hers? There is no answer on Google.
So I start, and then stop writing. But when I stop writing, the wolves come. The wolves are invisible, audible only to writers. When writers stop writing, they start slowly going mad because the wolves start howling, why aren’t you writing? Why aren’t you writing
I think, panicked, about all the memories that are already floating away from me, like butterflies I’ve released and have failed to capture in my writer’s net of experiences- the feeling of the roiling, unpredictable first trimester nausea, the days when I could only drink lemon water that Mr. B carefully mixed out every morning in the hot, hazy summer kitchen, the second trimester days where I felt like a tidal wave was pushing me backwards, unable to even stand from exhaustion, the current sensation of Mr. B bending down every day to gently put on the socks I can no longer reach. Every memory I don’t capture on paper now, now, NOW, is gone forever – a writer’s greatest fear.
So I start writing, but then I stop again, because I run into the internet and real life. Every time I bring up pregnancy, people who have been through it have unsolicited advice, which, for some reason, makes me more irrationally angry than when people offer advice on, say, my MBA experiences, or cooking. I don’t want advice. I’m just sharing my life experiences, curating them, pinning them down and putting them on pins under glass. It’s something I’ve always been doing and can’t stop, because then the wolves come.
So for now, I work on essays about pregnancy in private, in ink, in development, away from production, because I still want to remember this strange, wonderful, terrible experience before it floats away from my memory, this fragile, when I spend my days exhausted, waddling, frustrated with anticipation, and my nights tossing and turning to get comfortable on the three pillows that now occupy my side of the bed.
I’m almost nine months pregnant, and it’s the night before the big push to prod. And then we’ll see what happens.