I won’t be pregnant forever.
This thought turns itself over in my head as I lie awake at some way too early hour, experiencing the insomnia that has been yet another symptom to add to a growing list. As the months ahead of me that have been carefully measured turn to weeks, to days, what this statement means has changed significantly, too.
At first, it was a forbidden thought: I was so terrified during my first trimester, so scared that something would go wrong, that I barely allowed myself to imagine a summer that would end with a healthy baby. It had taken so long for the three of us to get to this point that I could hardly believe it could actually happen, that we could have a family that consisted of more than just us two adults. As the evidence mounted, the successful upon successful trips to various medical professionals kept resulting in exactly what we were looking for – strong heartbeat, evidence of growth, no fetal problems whatsoever – my fears began to dissipate, leaving me with no other options but to enjoy my pregnancy, right?
Not quite. The next several months of my pregnancy were miserable. I was plagued with constant morning sickness – which is a total misnomer, incidentally – and I kept nothing down. I kept wondering how anyone had a second child, as I couldn’t imagine choosing to ever go through this more than once.
It was hard. It was occasionally hell. I know that I’m an idiot for saying this, but I was shocked to realize that going through a pregnancy was actually harder for me than going through IVF had been. I had naively assumed that once we’d managed through all the hassles of infertility, all the tests and treatments and shots and insurance hoops, the act of being pregnant would be a breeze.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
But, somewhere around four and a half months into my pregnancy, things began to shift. My dance with the porcelain god happened only every other day, then once a week, then only rarely (my baby apparently hates fast food; how brilliant is that?). I began to feel like myself again, and not some vessel being invaded by an alien life form.
And I began to enjoy my pregnancy.
Weight gain? Not a problem. Maternity clothes? Once they began to fit me – morning sickness took a good 20 pounds off, meaning that last spring’s normal clothes were more suitable wardrobe options than actual pregnancy clothes for my second trimester – I loved them. My options beyond frilly not-me tops were much wider than I had assumed, and thanks to hand-me-downs from generous friends and some great sales, I’ve built an entire set of summer clothes that fit both my personality and my expanding belly.
Ah, the belly. I love my belly. In April and May, I got so excited when strangers would offer me a seat on the metro, or chide me for ordering Starbucks, because even obnoxious behavior meant I was beginning to look pregnant to the outside world, and suddenly, this meant something. The belly is an instant conversation starter, and I’m fascinated by the very strong opinions people feel the need to share about issues like natural childbirth, stay at home moms, and circumcision.
It’s amazing to me how the belly has gone such a long way in obliterating a lifetime of body image issues – I love watching it grow, watching the numbers creep upward on the scale, marveling how it dwarfs absolutely every other problem area I’ve ever had in comparison. I wear my maternity bathing suit to the pool proudly, and I don’t care so much that my arms are not perfectly toned, because the belly takes up so much attention, and is really so much more interesting, because there is a human growing inside there. And he’s infinitely more fascinating – his kicks, his wiggles, his movements, his hiccups, his development, the very essential idea of him – than what my damn butt looks like in these pants.
There are still many, many, many downsides to this pregnancy that I’d rather live without. The weird taste I get in my mouth every time I eat something even a little bit sweet. The way that my favorite sparkling water makes me hurl. The list of luxuries – caffeine, champagne, soft cheeses, sushi, cold medicines – I’ve had to do without since November. And then there’s that insomnia which follows late-night trips to the bathroom, insomnia I continue to fight at this very moment.
But the upsides far outweigh the negatives. As excited as I am to meet my son, I’m a bit sorry to realize that my first pregnancy will come to its conclusion any day now. Even if we have a dozen more children, I’ll never have this exact experience again, completely on the cusp of something new, about to become a mother for the first time, my body announcing to the world a certain small kind of miracle bound to change our lives for ever.
As I continue to remain awake in the darkness, my husband shifts next to me in his sleep. He moves his arm so it rests around my body, his hand against my stomach and embracing our entire family in one small gesture, and from inside me, our son kicks against him in response.
I will miss this, I think, as sleep finally comes.
Originally from Boston, Michelle is a writer, editor, instructor, obsessive sports fan, loud talker, quick laugher, new mom, and chances are, she watches more television than you do. Follow her on Twitter at michellevoneuw
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7.12.10 @ 9:51a
"and embracing our entire family in one small gesture"
Meep. Sniff. Gup. That really got me. :D
7.12.10 @ 12:35p
This is so sweet and touching. It's good to finally see that someone out there doesn't get all obsessed in a negative way with how big their belly gets, or the "numbers creeping up on the scale," and forgetting how special these moments are. You are truly enjoying this! Good luck to you and a million congratulations!
katherine (aka clevertitania)
7.12.10 @ 2:41p
See, this is how I wish I'd had a chance to feel when I had my son. But unfortunately, the issues you had (plus a couple others) didn't stop for me at 4 months. In fact, they lasted right up until a few hours before he was born. I blame a doctor with a view of women on state medical assistance (because they all must be welfare scamming deadbeats right?). It's definitely an experience I'd be afraid to repeat.
7.12.10 @ 6:34p
This was lovely. I don't see a baby as part of my plan, but the glimpses of your reality convey some unexpected positives.
7.12.10 @ 11:28p
There will be plenty of full-family embraces once the li'l guy gets out, too. Count on it. Cherish the ones that come with sleep, even if you remain awake.
7.14.10 @ 7:25p
I've wondered if the insomnia of late pregnancy is God's way of preparing mothers for the sleepness nights in the early months after the birth. Keep your husband awake now, too. He'll need to be ready to help during those long nights to come.
Congratulations and good luck!