I want to take a minute here and say a couple of things: first, this pregnancy was super wanted and planned for. And I know that I am SO lucky to be experiencing it. There are a few folks close to me who have struggled with infertility and it’s heartbreaking. I don’t really talk about my pregnancy with those folks out of respect for their journeys. Second, pregnant people(and people in general) are allowed to feel what they feel, and that needs to be respected, too. Plenty of people love being pregnant, some hate it, some, like me, are in the middle. These two things can be and are both true at the same time: we can be grateful for pregnancy and also have a hard time with it.
So, pregnancy has been a real trip so far. I’ve got about a week or two left, give or take – most first time parents go past their due date – and I feel like I’ve had three different pregnancies. I’m going to go into detail about what my experience has been; it might sound like complaining(it is, TBH), but I feel like it’s important to document.
First trimester was rough. Granted, not as bad as many women have it, but I really struggled. My sense of smell was really strong, and I had an aversion to pretty much every kind of food. If the dude was cooking burgers, I had to hide in the bathroom because I couldn’t stand the smell. I gagged every time I fed the dog. The nausea required meds 24/7, and was so bad that at one point I said to the dude “I know we want two kids and I’m committed to that, but you are REALLY going to have to convince me for the next one because this SUCKS.” The only things I could eat consistently during first trimester were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and graham crackers. I found that I could really only tolerate other stuff for a week or so: one week was Indian food, one week was sushi, one week was guacamole, and – the dude’s favorite – I had a couple of weeks where all I wanted to eat was KFC. I was also having a lot of miscarriage fears because I had miscarried in July of 2020, and every time I went to the bathroom I checked for blood. I did that well into second trimester, too; I really only stopped around six months. I was so tired all the time; there were many days where I had slept nine hours the night before and still took two naps. When the nausea finally started to ease around week 12, it felt like I was coming back to life. It was really nice not to feel like complete crap from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until I went to sleep at night.
Second trimester was so much better. I was back to eating whatever I wanted, I had energy, I resumed yoga – although still not as rigorous as my normal practice – and I generally felt good. My bump was getting more and more visible, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, and it felt like I was back to my old self. Anxiety was gone, and I mean COMPLETELY gone. I asked the dude if this was how normal people felt, and when he said yes, I told him I would seriously consider being pregnant for a third time in order to feel that way. We moved towards the end of my second trimester, and it was the perfect time to do so. I felt good enough that I could pack and that the 10 hour drive wasn’t uncomfortable. And feeling the baby move for the first few times was nuts. It feels kind of like the goldfish you get in a bag of water from the pet store: your belly is the bag, and the baby is the goldfish. It felt mostly like swishes and swoops at first, and gradually turned into distinct kicks and punches. It’s SO trippy.
And now I’m 39 weeks, and, to be honest, I hate everything. Feeling the baby move is still cool, but she’s big enough now that she doesn’t have a whole lot of room, so my belly looks like that scene in The Matrix when you can see the bug moving under Neo’s skin. And sometimes it’s really uncomfortable; her butt is usually under one side of my ribs and sometimes when she moves around it feels like she’s trying to bust out of there. Rolling over in bed takes an 11-point turn, I have to pee ALL the time, I’m short of breath after one flight of stairs, I can’t change positions easily but I also can’t stay comfortable in one place for long, and my skin is different colors/levels of dryness. I feel like when the alien takes over Vincent D’Onofrio’s body in Men In Black.
The worst part is the mental health stuff, though. About a month and a half ago I started to get pretty uncomfortable physically, and it’s taken a big toll on my mental health. It’s been hard to keep up with yoga, even a restorative practice. I had really bad mood swings for a couple of weeks and I had a lot of trouble managing that. And I hate being in my body right now. It aches, it’s hard to move, and looking in the mirror feels like watching a horror movie. I feel trapped and clumsy and like a big heffalump. It’s been really hard to deal with that mentally, especially because I’ve done so much work over the last few years to feel good in my body and to not be self-conscious about it. It’s impacting my life and my marriage, and – even though the dude has been AWESOME and is so patient – I feel like I’m letting both of us down. I also realized last night that I will never be the same: even if I have an easy birth and recovery, I will always know how this feels and there will be changes in my body simply from going through the process. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s a big thing to realize that you’re in a place where you can divide your life into “before” and “after.” I know I’ll have that feeling again when she’s born, but I really didn’t expect to have it about my body. I guess I just assumed that I’d be uncomfortable but that it wouldn’t have an effect on my self-image, and BOY was I wrong. I don’t feel like myself because I don’t feel at home in my body, and the whole thing is hard. It makes me sad and angry and resentful. It’s getting better and I’m kind of resigned to it at this point, but it still sucks.
There are a few things I’m looking forward to after the little one joins us: laying on my stomach, not getting beaten up from the inside, and, who knows, maybe even a drink. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that not being pregnant anymore means there will be a baby. It still feels kind of abstract. But when she’s pushing her feet on one side of my belly and her butt and back on the other side, I often rub her back and say “soon.”
I can’t promise that I’ll post again in any reasonable time frame, because, you know, baby. But I’ll be back at some point.