"Am I enjoying my pregnancy enough?" and other bizarre questions I've been asking myself lately
It dawned on me a few days ago that I'm now only 15 weeks away from my due date. 15 weeks. Seriously, WHAT IS THAT?! 15 more weekends, 15 more Mondays that I think are manic but won't really know the concept of manic until I have a manic baby, 15 more weeks of showering regularly (so I'm told), 15 more weeks of raw, unadulterated emotion with no wine to stem the tide. 15 weeks feels like a minute. 15 weeks is a minute. What happened to the 23 weeks that have already flown by? My husband filed to run for office shortly before two lines finally showed up on a pregnancy test (by "shortly before" I mean, literally, the week before), I am still working full time, he's still running his law firm, and by 7 PM on most days I'm essentially down for the count because I have zero energy left and no caffeine to change that situation. I've never had more going on in my life and I'm told every day that I have no idea what that even means. Good, because I don't want to know. If you do happen to know, let the record show that I am not jealous.
Doing so much at once makes a person bound to miss something. I talk to people all the time who tell me to take in all the beauty and magic of this "special time" and I want to ask them: when? When will I do that? Maybe I'll do that in the last couple of weeks of this journey. Yes. Two weeks is plenty of time to process an entire pregnancy and a baby on the way. Right?
I hear a lot of women talk about their "blissful pregnancies" and I think I want one of those. "Are you singing to the baby?" people ask me. "No," I responded to someone recently, "but I've been playing Cher very loudly and she seems to like it." It feels like there's always too much to do. So much to get ready. So much to plan. And yet, I've read articles like this in the past and wanted to throw up. How could one not take in this special time? How American to get wrapped up in so much work, work, work. Clearly, I was blindsided by how busy this time would be. Not getting wrapped up in so much work, work, work was so much harder than I ever imagined. I am a working woman trying to be a supportive spouse all while getting closer and closer every day to not being able to tie my shoes. I'm struggling. I guess I'm more American than I thought.
'Today, I will enjoy being pregnant," I say to myself at the start of almost every day. Then, about 15 minutes in, there's a fire to put out or something that needs urgent tending-to. I forget my mantra as quickly as I forget just about everything else these days (pregnancy brain is real, folks.) Suddenly, it's 23 weeks later. I'm sitting down on the bed with my husband at the end of the day saying in a very loud voice WE HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE BABY! and then realizing that it's me just as much as anyone else who's having a hard time paying attention to the baby. We both have a million things going on. We're both trying as hard as we can. Suddenly it hits me: this life won't start going any slower any time soon. We are getting ready for the baby. The baby is going to make us have to move even faster and right now we're figuring out how to do everything else at the same time and do it at a brand new pace. Normal won't be what it once was: we are being prepared for the new version of whatever "normal" will be.
I imagined pregnancy being a symphony of regular pre-natal massages and various lavender oils being rubbed on my belly all while I hung out in a flower crown. Right now, the only thing oily on me is my broken-out face and I pulled a muscle in my back the other day while shoe shopping and trying to tie a strap around my ankle (if you think Birkenstocks are ugly, you'll stop feeling that way once you can't put on anything else without possibly falling over.) I thought I would stay away from all foods with ingredients I can't pronounce, but now I can guarantee you that our child will come out addicted to Cheeze-Itz, Zapp's Voo Doo chips and the bad-for-you Coconut Water from the convenience stores with all the added sugar. I failed before I even started on being "the Whole Foods Mom", but I kind of knew that was going to happen. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with my supposed "failures" because I don't really think of them as failures anymore. I'm getting a lot more accepting of my imperfections and I imagine that's preparing me for all the patience and acceptance that a mother has to muster. Somewhere in the last six months or so, I made a decision that having children who love themselves is more important than having organic, vegan, alkalized children. Having both may never be possible for me, but hey: you win some, you lose some.
I'm pretty sure I've thrown my hands up at least once a day since my pregnancy really got going and said "I can't handle all of this anymore!" I scream, I yell, I cry a lot more than I did before I got a serious and ongoing hormone injection six months ago, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful. For the first nauseating months of my pregnancy, I thanked God every time I felt like I wanted to hurl. Feeling as sick as a dog meant I was pregnant. It meant I was having a baby. It was a blessing I wouldn't dare complain about.
But as those who've been here before know, there's still plenty that feels overwhelming in spite of what a big blessing having a baby is. We're not any better as people for acting like those frustrations don't exist. In fact, we're much worse off: we end up shutting down completely because you can't shut off one emotion without shutting off all of them. It's all real: the chaos, the gratitude, the fear, the hormones, the frustration, the joy, and there's no one way of putting them all together to make the perfect pregnancy. I think pregnancy is as imperfect as it is because it prepares you for all of the imperfections of having a child. Beauty is found in imperfection anyway. Imperfection is the soul of the whole process. We're all doing it right because there's just no right way to do it. And hey, ain't that just beautiful.