Author's note: When I can't sleep, I take to my keyboard. So to pass the time during this week's bout of insomia, I began to write Reese's birth story. In doing so I came across this little essay that I wrote back when I was around 30-weeks pregnant with him, but had never shared. At the time, I didn't think much of my pregnant venting; but after reading it four months post-partum, I can't help but have a deep appreciation for my words. Not only do they bring me back to all the unglamorous realities of being pregnant, but they allow me to cherish all that I've experienced and learned along the way. Little did I know then that it was just the beginning of my emotional and physical devotion to my baby. So without further ado...
My Body is Not My Own.
This pregnancy thing is kicking my ass.
But first let me say that I am fully aware of how lucky I am: I got pregnant as a happy accident with no issues of wavering fertility, I have an unbelievably loving and supportive partner, the only weight I've appeared to have gained is in my mid-section, I have not been put on bed rest and am free to be as active as I can tolerate, I have no stretch marks in sight, and by all reports it seems that we have a very healthy and happy baby boy growing inside of me.
So why all the drama? Because as I continue further down this path towards motherhood with ever increasing speed, I'm finally realizing that in every sense, my body is not my own. And this week that realization has hit me like a ton of bricks.
Now before I was pregnant I thought that I could handle all this in stride. Because isn't a lack of control what you sign up for when you decide to carry a child? "So why let it upset you?", I previously thought, "just go with the flow and enjoy the process." Easier said than done.
My first trimester was a wake up call, and for me it was a crash course on how awful you could feel yet still survive to see the next day (if there are others of you out there who had constant morning sickness as bad as I did, I could not be more empathetic). But in all honesty I was too concerned with trying to hold onto every ounce of nutrition I could and behave like a normal person who is not in fact chained to the nearest toilet, to let the emotions of it all take over me. And when I finally began to feel better, and was able to complete a meal for the first time in months, I was just so grateful it was over and I that I had made it through that period, that I looked at the remaining six months I had left to go with surprising, "it can't be as bad as what I just lived through" optimism. Yet it was like an unwelcomed yet expected guest beginning to make himself known, whispering in my ear: you are not in control anymore; get used to it.
Fast forward to week 29 of pregnancy, the beginning of the third and final trimester. Aside from a few episodes of early sciatica (thanks to a previous back and hip injury), I had skated through the second trimester with relative ease. But by the first week of month #7 (week 28), it was clear that things were starting to change and my body was beginning to turn all of its focus on to finishing up this baby. We took a cross-country trip to Los Angeles that week to celebrate our baby boy with a baby shower that my girlfriends threw, and I never knew that I could be so exhausted from a day that entailed only a short walk and a fun, three-hour party thrown in our honor. But it was a depleted state of being that I had never experienced before (even my former days spent swimming 6-8 hours a day couldn't compare). I felt my first Braxton-Hicks contractions during that trip too, but thankfully they felt more like annoying muscle cramps than full on contractions and did not cause me much concern. By that time my breathing had become noticeably different too. My lungs (now compressed by my raised diaphragm) were too busy being used as punching bags by the baby for me to take long, full deep breaths anymore.
This week is when the shit hit the fan, and it was the combined perfect storm of things which really began to freak me out. For one, my belly is now growing out of the "cute little bump" stage into the "can't-miss-me, large bump" phase, which means I bump into everything now and almost everything is uncomfortable. So there goes my ease of mobility. I began to drop things like crazy, almost as if my brain would completely forget what my hands were carrying and let them enter momentary bouts of paralysis. Pregnancy brain (yes it is a real thing, people!) entered a new dimension and my forgetting everyday, common words has made conversations difficult at times. But the absolute worst thing has been the crying and constant weepiness. And it happens all the time and at almost everything. Good things, bad things, sad things, everyday things. You name it, chances are it could put me into a sudden burst of tears. In fact just so you can comprehend the depth of what I'm saying, I've compiled a list of all the things I've cried about over the last two days:
- being tired ALL THE TIME
- having to pee ALL THE TIME
- having a hard time getting dressed and putting on my shoes
- being bitchy (excuse me, I mean moody) to my fiance
- googling "pregnancy weepiness" and reading a story about a woman who broke down over a waiter taking away her plate with a pickle on it that she had saved for last and was especially looking forward to eating (come on, that is sad!)
- my fiance making a very nice lunch for us and setting the table beautifully outside on the porch; especially when I saw that he made sure that my plate was elevated so I wouldn't have to be uncomfortable and push on my belly by bending down to eat
- dropping my dinner all over the floor
- letting food fall off my fork and into my lap (and onto the pants I just washed)
- my fiance leaving to go to work
- the thought of getting married (I'll leave it to you to decide if it was a happy or sad cry)
- looking at the unassembled bassinet in the corner of our bedroom
- giving in and successfully putting the bassinet together... ten weeks before our due date
- putting Winnie the Pooh, baby's first teddy bear (and given to us by one of my best girlfriends), into the bassinet to keep it warm until he arrives
- I could go on and on... but you get the picture...
So where am I going with all this? What I mean to say is that all these changes I've been going through are reminders of just how little control you have over your emotions, not just your physical being. When you feel like an emotional roller coaster it doesn't exactly make you think good things about yourself. Thoughts like "am I really this type of a person?" or "what if I'm actually depressed?", even "what will my partner think of me?" surface all at the same time.
And the control I relinquish will only increase if I'm lucky enough. Once the baby is born (and if all goes according to my expectations) I will be ice-packing my vagina while struggling to breastfeeding on a strict schedule. When not attending to the baby's every need I will be resting to give more of my energy back to him. And it has been through my emotional haze that I've come to the realization that my body is no longer for me to do what I want with, but is something to be used for the nourishment of and to lay the emotional foundations for this little being, and therefore our family. Some things, like being a power yogi or being the perfect sexual being for my man, will just have to wait.
With all that being said, the surprising thing (which is now how I most define myself as a mother, well up until this point at least), is that I am happy to do it. Years from now, I will look back at this time with total nostalgia, and will long for the days when this baby was completely dependent on me while he is off stubbornly establishing himself as his own little man. Right now, he needs me entirely. Years from now he won't. So while it may take my sense of sanity as well as my physical confidence, my body is all his. And for now, he is all mine to love.
Anyone got a tissue?