Friday, August 12th, 2011
Last year, I was at a baby shower, and the sweet first-time mom-to-be asked the host’s grey-haired family matriarch about her many kids, cooing, “You must have really liked being pregnant.” Which made granny burst out laughing. Hi-larious! As if liking pregnancy were akin to considering a lobotomy. Just not done. Unless, perhaps, you literally are insane.
I, too, once assumed that enjoying pregnancy was a given. That it was one extended bonding moment with the baby growing inside you and mostly involved glowing and eating pickles with ice cream. Then I got pregnant.
Of course I’d heard about morning sickness, but I had absolutely no idea that #1) terming it “morning” sickness meant nothing. They might as well call it “raccoon” sickness for all the relevancy that first word has. Morning my ass. All. Day. Long. And #2) It’s a lot like having the flu for months. While pretending you don’t, because no one knows you’re pregnant. While worrying about that pregnancy, because you’re so sick. While freaking out about how your life is totally changing, in a way that apparently involves vomiting regularly.
Which is to say that the first few months of my first time around, being pregnant felt pretty much like the opposite of a beautiful thing. I survived on cereal and Saltines. A good day was making it to noon before heading back to bed. I started the second trimester 5 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight—and I was still sick. My doctor comforted me with stories about his worse-off patients, so sick they needed IVs. Is it wrong that this information made me feel a little better?
You often hear that the only reason women go on to bear more children is because nature has a way of erasing the pain of childbirth from memory. I went drug-free, and I still recall the astounding pain of childbirth all too well. I also recall how I spent the hour before my son’s entrance into this world swearing, “I will never do this again! Never!” But then I met Roy, and I got it: Something this perfect should not come easy. Almost immediately, I knew I could endure that daylong pain-party again. Life with him in it was, from the get-go, 100 percent worth it.
What that sneaky bitch Mother Nature did erase from memory was early-pregnancy’s illness. Those first few waves of nausea brought it all rushing back to me, and instantly I had the urge to lighten my work schedule, load up on ginger ale and stock the DVR with Law & Order reruns.
As luck would have it, this time around was worse. The nausea, the tiredness, the vomiting—there was more of everything. What I had on my side, however, was knowledge. I knew that there was nothing I could do to cure it, so I didn’t waste my time trying. I knew to take full advantage of the good days, hours or even minutes. I knew that it would likely taper off, and then, eventually, end. And I knew that every last bit of it was due to the fact that I’m nurturing the final piece of our family puzzle, who was at that very moment busy growing body parts and organs and such. I’ll be honest. There were days when I thought I can’t do this. But then I’d see my son and tell myself, oh, buck up. Look at how lucky you are. Of course you can.
I realize that there are some wackos out there who enjoy being pregnant. I happen to be really good friends with quite a few of them. Yay for them! I mean it. There’s potential for difficulty at every step of this journey, from conception through the teen years and beyond. Whenever a fellow mama—or parent, for that matter—can skate through any stage, I say right on. Lucky, lucky you.
In fact, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that after the illness finishes tapering off, I figure out a way to tap into some of that pregnant-lady bliss and truly enjoy the rest of my pregnancy. It’ll be my last, so my nostalgic tendencies should help. And if I remember correctly, once I hit about 20 weeks—almost there!—things weren’t so bad. My feet hurt, but my hubby gives an excellent massage. I don’t even recall minding the fact that I was two weeks late. I’m taking it day by day, though. Every pregnancy’s different, plus my memory may be flawed. I know from experience how Mother Nature rolls.