I had sincerely hoped to be one of those women who just love being pregnant. Pregnancy is getting to participate in the miracle of life, what is there not to love, right? Alas, I have a confession to make and I’m learning to cope with it: I do not enjoy being pregnant.
At 34 weeks pregnant, it’s safe to say that I am an emotional train wreck even on my best days and I tend to overthink things. Between hormones and the idea that my entire world is about to be flipped upside-down for the best reason, I just can’t get it together. I was told to expect this, but, much like everything else with pregnancy, there’s no preparing for it until it actually hits you. I am a swirling mix of excitement, nerves, sadness, and guilt… a lot of guilt. I decided to put all this out in the open because surely I’m not the only one.
Much like so many other women I know, this baby did not come easily to me. It took a couple of years to even get my husband on the same page as me with wanting to start trying for a baby. There was nothing I wanted more than to be a mother, and not just during the cuddly newborn/infant stage. I looked forward to reading at bedtime, finger painting, nurturing during bouts with the common cold, homework, etc. I wanted a child to raise, not just a baby to play with, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to attend baby showers that were not my own. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for those around me with a child (or children, in a lot of cases), it was just hard to watch someone else, everyone else, live out my dream and my husband wasn’t budging. At first, I wrote it off as baby fever and I expected it to go away as quickly as it appeared. Not long after we were married, people began asking when we would have kids (I know they were well-meaning, but don’t ever ask that question! more on that to come.) and I answered them honestly with responses like, “I like my sleep, so not any time soon!” or, because I was still in college, “Do you want me to do homework in the delivery room?”
Truthfully, we were in no hurry. We enjoyed staying up late on weekends with no human alarm clock to interrupt our sleeping in or our time together. We were newlyweds enjoying being selfish, and it was lovely. Suddenly, all of that changed… for me, anyway. The usually short-lived baby fever that was typically brought on by the scent of whichever warm, tiny newborn I was holding didn’t go away when he or she began wailing because of an explosive diaper or the need for a nap. Oh, no. It was here to stay; I longed for the feeling of my own child resting its perfect little face on my chest, softly breathing in and out as he or she curled up under my chin for a nap. How my heart ached for a baby of my own. This was problematic because it’s not like I could just make the decision to start a family for us. The absolute last thing I wanted was to force Phillip to be a father before he was ready and willing, since that would only create a rift between us and potentially make him resent the resulting child. Finally, after two years of waiting for him to get on board with the idea, we agreed it was time to start trying.
Since my best friend had gotten pregnant within the month she and her husband decided to have a baby, and all of my cousins were already on baby number two, I expected instantaneous results. When I didn’t get my insta-baby, things around here got rocky. Trying for a baby should’ve been fun, romantic, and go-with-the-flow; after multiple tests with no + sign, it turned into a science experiment complete with calendars, ovulation tracking, and lots of research. It was stressful, frustrating, and beginning to wreak havoc on my marriage. I spent more than one night burying my red, blotchy, snotty face into my husband’s chest crying about how badly I wanted a baby and it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for us. I was becoming angry with God because I couldn’t comprehend why He would give me such all-consuming desire to be a momma but no baby. What sense did it make? I had prayed for a long time that he would make me a mother when He saw fit rather than when I wanted it to happen, but I’m not really sure I meant it. Then, one Sunday, a friend came up to me in the midst of my internal pity party and said to me, “You have been on my heart and I think God wants you to hear this: He hears you. He placed those desires in your heart, whatever they are, for a reason. He’s got big plans for you.”
I was dumbfounded because we hadn’t told people that we were actively trying to get pregnant. I didn’t want the added pressure of people asking, “Soooo?! Any luck?!” in addition to the countless times we were already being asked if we were ever going to have babies. I hadn’t uttered a word to anyone and I’m not sure if I was successful at it, but I tried to hide my frustration and sadness with the situation as well. For her to have those words for me despite all of that sent me into a full-on, chin-quivering melt down on the front row. A month nearly to the day following our conversation and after right at a year of trying, I took one more test -with an attitude, mind you- mostly just to determine whether or not I should go pick up tampons since I was sure it was going to just disappoint me once more. I did a double take a the Clear Blue Easy in front me of, searching for the ‘not’ before the word ‘pregnant’ and failing to do so because I was, indeed, having a baby! Cue the waterworks.
Since that day, there have been a lot of other tears, but for entirely different reasons. I had finally been given what I prayed so intently for, why did I feel so guilty? The truth of the matter is that our year-long struggle was nothing in comparison to some of our friends who had been trying unsuccessfully much longer than we had. I hadn’t endured multiple miscarriages or a miscarriage at all, a false positive, fertility drugs, or years of heartache. Why had I been granted a baby and they hadn’t? They were just as deserving, if not more, and while I was ecstatic about our own little bundle of joy, I wanted to keep the celebration to a minimum out of respect for them. After all, it seemed like just moments before that I had been rolling my eyes and grumbling about yet another pregnancy announcement or baby shower invitation. Who was I to unintentionally rub their noses in it?
The guilt only multiplied when my 17-week bout with morning sickness set in at about 3 weeks along. I felt like I had been hit by a bus while battling the stomach bug, which was a far cry from what I’d expected. If you’ve read my previous post about pregnancy, you know how difficult the nausea was for me. I have a full-time job that requires a lot of time on the road, traveling from county-to-county and, at the time, some late hours. I genuinely could not comprehend how other working women dealt with it in addition to having older kids when all I wanted to do for nearly 5 months was have someone put me into a chemically induced coma so I didn’t have to endure the misery of morning sickness and extreme fatigue. I had sincerely hoped to be one of those women who just love being pregnant. Pregnancy is getting to participate in the miracle of life, what is there not to love, right? Alas, I have a confession to make and I’m learning to cope with it: I do not enjoy being pregnant.
Most of the second trimester was great because I had energy again, the morning sickness stopped, and I wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, but all of that was fleeting. Most of the last 34 weeks have not been enjoyable, aside from being able to feel our daughter wriggle and kick. I required medication for my morning sickness, and even then, I vomited to the point of a bloody throat more often than not. I’ve dealt with dizziness and nearly passed out in public on more than one occasion. Now that I’m in the third trimester, my feet are so swollen that I can only wear flip flops, I cannot get comfortable at night and spend most of my time tossing and turning, getting up to pee, or taking more Tums because of raging heartburn. I’m miserable in every sense of the word and using that word to describe my current state only makes me feel worse. I have no energy, I can’t breathe, and NOTHING fits. Soon, I fear that a bikini or going completely nude will be my only options to accommodate my measuring-a-week-ahead-for-the-last-two-months ginormous belly. I have never felt more unattractive in my life and I often compare myself to a turtle stuck on its back, as I frequently move just as slowly. Add that part to my pre-existing body image issues, and you get an extremely self-conscious mom-to-be who very well may break down in tears if one more tank top rises up Homer Simpson-style. All of this has put a serious damper on any romance which makes me feel even worse because this kid was my idea and my husband is suffering because of it. I was under the impression that pregnancy hormones would basically turn me into a nympho, but the opposite has been the case for me. It’s hard to be in the mood when you can’t control your nausea or your baby makes things weird by kicking the whole time. Maybe that’s TMI, but that’s my reality at the moment and I honestly can’t wait for her to be here so I can feel normal again, but I think I’m operating under false pretenses there, as well. Will I ever feel my current definition of normal again? Is romance even possible once kids are part of the picture? No one ever mentioned that part to me and I can’t decide if I’m literally the only woman in the world who feels this way or if other women are equally as ashamed to admit the things I’m admitting.
Every time someone asks me how I’m feeling, I typically give them a generic answer. “Good for the most part! Aside from swollen ankles, I have no complaints!” but what I really want to say is everything I mentioned in the last paragraph. What stops me? Immense guilt. I wanted this baby, there are tons of other women who would gladly endure everything I’ve dealt with minus all my complaining, and here I am whining. I’m positive a reader out there is currently thinking, You feel bad about your round belly? Shut up! You’re having a BABY. I would gladly give up my vanity for the chance to have a child. Well, reader, I’ve already beat you to those thoughts and it only gets worse.
Within the last few weeks, I’ve begun this weird, bittersweet mourning period because I know that my relationship with Phillip is about to change even more than it already has. I’m thrilled to begin this new chapter in our lives together, but it saddens me that this one is closing. Was he right in wanting to wait? Did we have enough time of just the two of us? We’re not going to have any more of our quiet weekends together, and that kind of sucks, so I feel guilty all over again because, despite the excitement of a new baby, I want so badly to dig my heels in and slow down the next 6 weeks. I’m terrified of not being able to find the delicate balance between putting my marriage first and still meeting all of her needs. Does that make me a bad mom already? How selfish am I!
But I don’t talk about most of these things because it makes me sound ungrateful and insensitive to those who are still waiting for their positive test, and I’m sorry for even thinking it in the first place.
Make no mistake, this is still the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced. On the days that I’m not consumed with self-condemnation for any of the stuff above, I truly am excited about Mini Cooper’s quickly approaching arrival. I dream (when I’m able to sleep) of a baby girl with dark hair and I find myself sitting in her nearly completed nursery in awe of the idea that in a month or so, I’ll have a tiny person to care for and the gear we’ve accumulated will finally be put to use. My heart swells with intense, indescribable love and pride at the thought of my husband rocking the baby girl we created together. This life we’ve built together now includes a family, and that makes me weep tears of joy as I write this, but at the same time it fills me with fear of the unknown.
We’ve never been parents to anything other than our pets. The pets! How will the dogs react to the baby? Shooter loves kids, so I’m not worried about him, but Nikki, the Yorkie, tends to get jealous and has no patience for toddlers. What if he tries to hurt her? What if someone else tries to hurt her? What if? What if? What if? She’s not even here yet, and already I’m running through a thousand scenarios a day of all the different ways we can screw up as parents. These are the things that no one told me about having a baby, so I’m not even going to pretend to imagine the shock that will come with her actual arrival and raising. It’s just too much for one person to handle, which is why I needed to put all this out there -not for pity, or approval from peers. Mostly, I just needed to get it all off my chest. I have a history with depression so my biggest concern with all of this has been my need to be honest about what I’m feeling now or I know I’ll never ask for help if baby blues set in once she’s here. But also, if there are others out there like me struggling to keep from drowning beneath the weight of all the emotion, good and bad, I want you to know you’re not alone.
I have to admit, I feel a certain lightness about myself after publishing this for all of the internet to see, even if no one reads it. Maybe, even just for an afternoon, I’ll finally get some freedom from my never-ending stream of consciousness. I intended to write this Mother’s Day weekend, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was a bawling mess just writing in my mom’s card about how this pregnancy has given me a small taste of what she’s done for me. How does one live up to that? Better question, how does one write something as personal as this in the same day? Now that I have, I’ll end on this note: to all mommas, mommas-to-be, and mommas-in-waiting, I commend you. I didn’t and still don’t have any idea what I’ve gotten myself into, bless my little heart.