Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Magical Misery

By the third time around, I shouldn’t really be surprised to find that I have a hard time with pregnancy.

Now I will begin with a disclaimer. Each time, I have been very glad to be pregnant. Each time I appreciate pregnancy even more - the ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant is not something we should ever take for granted. When you have experienced loss and know so many others who have, you can’t help but recognize the miracle of each baby that makes it into this world. However, I do think you can really appreciate something and be glad for it while also really not enjoying it.
Yeah, I was actually 3 months pregnant with Juliana in this picture. Hahaha.
When I was pregnant with Juliana, the jury was still out. I did not enjoy the nausea and the backaches and the hundred other symptoms I never knew existed, but there was all the excitement of the first time combined with the strong belief that pregnancy is a magical time. All this talk about glowing and stuff.

Suuuuper happy to still be pregnant with Adalyn.
When I was pregnant with Adalyn, the jury was unanimous: I did not enjoy being pregnant. 24/7 nausea and throwing up every day for months on end confirmed that pretty quickly. I lost 6 pounds, and I was seriously miserable. Even when I got to the “glory days” (i.e. second trimester) and we were unexpectedly moving out of our apartment, I frequently felt like I was going to die, with only slight exaggeration. And the last month I was an impatient mess of sleeplessness and contractions. Some of my first thoughts post-birth, after “Oh my gosh I can’t believe I just had a baby that quickly,” were “Oh my gosh I’m so glad I’m not pregnant anymore!”

So I had pretty reasonable expectations/dread coming into this pregnancy. This pregnancy has mercifully been much less miserable than the last. I still felt sick for most of the first four months, but thanks to Unisom, I was actually functional most of the day and only threw up 1-2x a week. Do you know how nice it is not to throw up? Really nice.

In the last couple of weeks I have reached the point when I hardly ever feel nauseous anymore! At 19 weeks, I am firmly into the second trimester and everything keeps talking about all the energy I should be feeling now. This right here is the best part of pregnancy. And I think that’s why, even when I make it past the giant hurdle of nausea, I still feel kind of depressed. As a friend said, “I feel so much better than before...but I still feel pregnant.”

I think part of the reason I have a hard time is because of unrealistic expectations. Especially by the time you get to the third, it seems like pregnancy is something you should be able to take in stride. It should be a side thing that doesn’t interfere too much with the rest of life. I should glide through my daily activities with a glowing face and growing belly as the only evidences of the crazy change happening. When people comment on how effortless I make it seem, I say, “Oh that’s right, I temporarily forgot I was pregnant!” With a blissful gaze.

Except have you ever seem a pregnant lady glide? We don’t. Long before the watermelon sized belly, our joints loosen, our muscles stretch, and our organs rearrange themselves, and resulting movement mimics a 90 year old arthritic. Aside from the main show, growing a baby, our bodies are doing all kinds of crazy stuff. I remember trying to think of any part of the body NOT affected by pregnancy. I think the ears stay the same? Seriously, pregnancy even causes blurry vision (I experienced this last time), swollen fingers (one symptom I actually haven’t had!), and all kinds of cool skin changes from acne and dandruff to extreme itching.

It’s no really any wonder I feel tired all the time, when I am not only growing and nourishing a baby, I am also pumping 30-50% more blood resulting in up to 15% higher heart rate. But even though I know that, I still feel guilty that I can’t keep up with things as well as my non-pregnant self.
Just a little visual: Normal body vs. squished organs.

When you think about not only what is happening with your baby, growing from a microscopic collection of cells into a fully-formed baby ready to function in the world, and also with your body, which is bending over backwards to accommodate its new guest, it is really incredible. And slightly disturbing if you think too long about all your poor squished organs. Pregnancy really is a magical time. But that doesn’t mean if feels magical. It feels less like magic and more like being sick for a really long time.

Complicating matters is that everyone’s experience with pregnancy really is different. There are apparently some people who really love being pregnant and feel great. There are also some people who really love Big Freida, so the world remains a mystery. I have one friend who ran her first half-marathon at 20 weeks pregnant. Amazingly, we are still friends. I have other friends who have thrown up pretty much every day for nine months, bless their dear little hearts (and I mean that sincerely).

So in conclusion: Pregnancy is a big deal. The only difference between the first and the third pregnancy is that people make less of a fuss. But physically, it’s pretty much the same. Except that you started out older and more tired than before. But you go through it again, even though you know what you are getting yourself into, because that baby at the end really is worth those nine months of magical misery.

19 weeks down, 21 to go!
Why we go through it all

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