My So-Called Pregnant Life
I woke up this morning on my back and immediately turned onto my side. If you sleep on your back, then you risk compressing the vena cava and that will keep blood and nutrients from your baby. Sleeping on your left side is best. That allows for the greatest blood flow. Unfortunately, this morning I can only manage the right side because I slept on the left too long last night and now I have shoulder pain. But now, I’m launching myself out of bed by my arms because I’m going to have diarrhea. I stand up and immediately feel woozy. My uterus contracts and there is the familiar groin pain that occurs when I move too quickly. I make my way to the restroom and relieve myself. When I wipe, I do so very carefully so as not to anger my new friends, the hemorrhoids. I take an extra minute to apply medication and clean up.
I make my way into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee. It doesn’t taste right. It’s like a picture of coffee, a hollow interpretation. Immediately, a sick hunger kicks in. I have to make breakfast and make it now. I’d love to have a bagel but I need to be cautious of weight gain so I have yogurt with cereal instead, remembering to scoop a small portion so I can keep it down my gullet successfully. I sit down to eat breakfast and my baby starts kicking. All is fine and well until he kicks downward and hits my cervix. Pain radiates throughout my abdomen. It’s not just a physical pain but an emotional one too. Since the cervix has been a source of orgasmic pleasures my whole life, when this pain hits, I feel a strange twinge in my heart too that I can’t quite describe.
This glowing vision of pregnancy that I’ve just shared is a span of about five minutes of my day. Pregnancy sucks. There is no way around it. And here is the part that confuses most people… I love my baby. I can’t wait to meet him. I am also having a rough time. Apparently in our culture, any image but the happy, bouncy mommy-to-be is forbidden. For the first half of my pregnancy I only heard from women who “loved being pregnant”. I was bombarded with the phrase “Omg, aren’t you just so excited??” I would nod a yes while literally trying to hold back the vomit and think “Hell no, I’m not excited! I feel like road kill.” This made me wonder if something was wrong with me so I went to a therapist. It turns out what I’m experiencing is completely normal.
About once a week for the past month, I have a day where I cry all day. It’s like a switch turns on in my brain and I sob with a fevered sadness. I feel like I’m sucking up all the misery in the world and siphoning it through my tears. In the movies they show pregnant women crying when they see a sweet detergent commercial filled with hopping bunnies and it’s all hormones and cuteness and hilarity. That is not my experience. We are talking about soul-crushing sadness that comes out of nowhere. About 24 hours later, this switch turns off. Like most pregnancy symptoms. by the time I figure out what’s happening to me, that symptom will cease and be replaced by something else. I may also cycle from sorrow to laughter to wonder to arousal to giddiness to exhaustion to pain in a matter of minutes or have a day when I just feel kind of bummed for no reason.
The easiest way to deal with this is to succumb to the vulnerability and let the hormones have their way with me. If I fight it, I end up miserable. I only discovered this somewhere in my seventh month of pregnancy. I was trying to control pregnancy and add its maintenance to my to-do list.
When you’re pregnant, you spend so much time in the future. You are planning the nursery, devising a birth plan, figuring out when to stop work and how to handle your business, what kind of diapers and car seat to buy, breastfeeding, banking umbilical cord blood, etc. These should be fairly easy decisions but there is a mountain of misinformation out there that you must wade through first and everyone has an opinion on it. It’s a necessity to plan so you don’t feel overwhelmed at the end but it goes directly against what is best for you mentally during this period. Mother nature is tossing you about and so planning what you will be doing five minutes from now is futile most days. The physical construction of a human body and the vast emotional landscape of a human brain are being poured through you in a sense. You are going through every range of emotion and physical sensation because you are downloading life to a small, adorable, wiggly computer. You have no blueprint or list of tasks. You literally have to go with the flow and at the risk of sounding too “new agey”, be an open channel for this energy and spend more time enjoying the moments that are peaceful and comfortable. Living in the moment really is the best way to cope. Your body knows what to do and it’s best if you just get the hell out of the way.
I’m in my eighth month now and I’m started to get used to a lot of it. This is fortunate because I’m getting huge. Putting on pants is akin to climbing a mountain. Even putting on underwear is a challenge. Sometimes just sitting is uncomfortable. This isn’t made any easier by the fact that everywhere I go, people need to tell me how big my body has become as if I don’t own mirrors. Oh and when I’m not fending off exhaustion, my husband and I are battling unsolicited advice. If I start to forget for a moment that I’m pregnant, someone will remind me by asking me how I’m doing something and then telling me how I should be doing it. This has a tendency to make me feel like nothing but a baby incubator and that’s infuriating.
Socially, my husband and I have had a few good friends disappear from our lives since I’ve been pregnant as well. Folks started vanishing the moment we announced. Major life changes always seem to bring some reorganization of friends. It’s bad timing because we could really use the support in these uncharted waters or just have someone talk to us about sports or politics or movies or something that is not baby prep. We are living that 24 hours a day. Luckily, we also know some great people that have hung in there with us and they bring us an enormous sense of normalcy.
Now, this may all sound like a big bitch fest but it’s real. I know there are people who have easy pregnancies but I wish those women who have had a difficult time would not be afraid to speak up. They could save a lot of other people from confusion and doubt, both the women who are experiencing it and the men who try to comfort them. Despite everything you may hear, it is truly okay to love your baby and hate pregnancy.
Jade Jones lives in the LA area with her husband. Their little one will be joining them soon.