RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Pregnancy

Pound of Flesh

Shiny, Happy Baby

My boy, back when he was still all shiny and new

Now that my son is 18 months old, I’m starting to get “the question.”

So, are you ready for another?

Another? My god, I feel like I just got done creating the one I have. People, I fabricated a human being out of thin air, and now you want me to do it again??

And yet, I do think about it from time to time. More than the little twinge I get when I see a mom cradling a shiny, new bundle, I think of the incredible bond between my sister and me and how I want my son to have that with someone.

Then I start remembering pregnancy.

The main thing I recall about being pregnant was feeling like my body was playing one humiliating joke on me after another. I had kept myself blissfully ignorant of the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, mostly so I would never be too chicken to attempt it. The downside of this approach was that I was completely caught off guard for all its inconvenient truths.

Everyone knows the pregnancy basics: your emotions go haywire, you gain a bunch of weight, you feel insanely tired and you barf from time to time.

I certainly wasn’t prepared for everything else.

You start off with the first few weeks when no one knows you’re knocked up. Despite your crushing fatigue and the fact that your clothes are getting tight, you pretend like everything’s normal. You don’t really look pregnant at this stage; you just look chubby. Most likely your co-workers have observed how many doughnuts you’re downing out of the community box and they just chalk up your weight gain to that.

Next, your sense of smell is heightened to a point where it could be considered a superpower, which would be cool if the person sitting next to you would stop eating curry for lunch and then throwing his leftovers in your trash can. Trips to the grocery store become unbearable. I don’t know who decided to put the fish display right next to the cheese aisle at my local supermarket, or if the d-bag responsible had any idea what he was doing to pregnant women, but it all seemed like a cruel joke at the time.

The only respite to the heightened sense of smell is the fact that your sinuses clog up, but your allergies go wild at the same time. And, as a possible result of all this, your nose gets bigger. I had actually forgotten about this one until my husband reminded me of it the other day. Thankfully, he was kind enough to clarify, saying, “It wasn’t so much that your nose got bigger, it was that your whole face got kind of puffy.” Ah, yes. Add puffy face to the list.

There’s your sudden hatred of foods you formerly loved, and your overwhelming urge to eat foods you would usually find disgusting, like a shriveled gas station hot dog or some slimy lunchmeat. Not to mention these are the very foods you are supposed to avoid thanks to the repulsive presence of listeria, which somehow doesn’t deter you from wanting them.

Let’s move on to bathroom time. Either you can’t go, or you can’t not go. Let’s just leave it at that.

Then there are all the wonderful things pregnancy does to your appearance. There’s the hormone-induced acne that pops up on your cheeks and along your jaw line. There’s the hyperpigmentation called melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” which causes dark patches on your skin. Mine conveniently showed up most prevalently on my upper lip, just where a lady likes to have a nice, dark shadow. Your constant sweating makes it impossible to keep your makeup in place. And, finally, your body hair starts growing at an impressive rate, which just feels like the icing on the cake.

What’s next? Ah, the constant crabby personality. During the time I was pregnant with my son, I’m confident most of my co-workers were humming the wicked witch song when I’d lumber past them on my way to the bathroom. God help the person who got in my way or asked me if I, too, thought the air conditioning was turned up too high.

As the months roll on, you start experiencing new and fascinating things like leg cramps, body aches, restless legs (not that you can sleep anyway) and lightning crotch. That’s right, lightening crotch. It’s real, and it’s freaking awful. Look it up.

Did I miss anything? Oh, your feet will get bigger, your skin will start itching like crazy and you will experience a complete and total loss of personal dignity.

Why on earth would I put myself through all this again?

Well, there was this one thing my son used to do when he was still shiny and new. He would look up at me like I was the most spectacular thing he’d ever seen, and then he’d blink this long, mesmerizing blink. His full lashes would fall to his cheek and linger there for a moment, and then he’d slowly raise his lids to reveal his stunning, bright blue eyes. He’d smile and gurgle and coo and stare into my eyes, and I would feel like the most magnificent woman on earth.

I guess when I think about the result, when I think about what a unique and funny and charismatic boy came from all that hardship, I realize that maybe there’s a reason pregnancy is so hard.

Perhaps, to receive such a mind-blowing gift, the recipient should be charged a pound of flesh, even if that penance is being applied rather than taken. It is a pretty miraculous outcome, after all.

Now, I hear my little miracle stirring in his bed and I realize he’s still pretty shiny and new, all things considered. He makes it all seem completely and totally worth the trouble.

But to go through it all again while chasing after a rambunctious toddler instead of lounging in bed with a bag of marshmallows? Now that’s a whole new consideration.

Advertisements

118 Months Pregnant

BabyAheadAll of a sudden, I’m a hundred months pregnant, and it happened overnight.

A couple weeks ago, I went to bed 32 weeks pregnant. I woke up the next morning with a belly twice the size it was the night before. Did I unknowingly sleep-eat after midnight and turn this baby into a Gremlin?

Ever since this sudden belly expansion, complaining is my drug of choice. I can’t go more than an hour without it. The other day I was whining to my sister over the phone, and she asked pointedly, “Is there anything that is okay to say to a pregnant woman?” After a long pause, I came up with the answer:

“No.”

Not at this stage, anyway.

Part of me is dying for it to be over. Part of me is terrified for it to end. Most people — seeing how slowly I’m waddling around these days — assume I’m more than ready for it to be over. On many levels, they’re right:

I’m ready to be able to climb into bed without lying on my back and panting, struggling to roll over like an overturned cockroach. I’m ready to stop mopping sweat from my face while all my co-workers complain about how cold the A/C is. I’m ready to hold my baby in my arms instead of balanced on top of my bladder.

But am I ready to have a baby? In addition to the fact that this baby still has some cooking to do, I still feel a long way from prepared to be a mom. And yet, the baby’s arrival suddenly seems imminent.

My feelings of unpreparedness were compounded by a recent doctor’s visit. My husband and I saw a different OB-GYN at my usual practice and, while we liked her a lot, she had a lot of questions. We didn’t have too many answers.

“Have you started interviewing pediatricians?”

“Have you considered taking infant CPR classes?” (My husband made a note on our to-do list: “infancy PR class.”)

“Have you toured the hospital?”

I meekly offered, “We’re taking a childbirth class at the end of this month …”

“Great! Have you pre-registered for the delivery yet?”

Sigh. It’s cram time.

As my college roommates can attest, I was never good at planning ahead for tests and assignments. Any impending exam or art project deadline had me up late the night before, working furiously to load my brain with a semester’s worth of knowledge.

Here I am again, clueless in the eleventh hour.

As always, though, I’m ready and willing to learn. If this were college, I’d be brewing a big pot of coffee and laying out my drawing pencils, finally inspired as I can see in my mind’s eye exactly what I’m going to make.

It’s the most important, exciting, life-changing creation I’ve ever brought to life.

I Have a Secret …

Please don’t let this get out. Hoards of pregnant women will come after me bearing sharpened sticks and — seeing as how I was out of shape before pregnancy — it wouldn’t be much of a chase.

I kind of like being pregnant.

Don’t get me wrong: it hasn’t been easy or fun even most of the time. At 18 weeks along, I’m finally starting to get a little bit of energy back (not that I had a lot to begin with), and I’m just now able to eat a vegetable here and there instead of subsisting solely on butter, sugar and pasta. And most days, I feel big as a house and a lot less attractive.

And yet. Being pregnant makes me feel special, like there’s something extraordinary going on with me that no one else understands. I know I’m not breaking any new ground here: women have been having babies since the beginning of time. This is probably the most ordinary thing I could do. But no one has ever grown this special little baby during this moment in time, and no one knows exactly what it feels like day in and day out. I feel a kinship with all women I never felt before, and a closeness with my husband when we look at each other in amazement and say over and over, “we’re having a baby.” Just trying to make it feel real.

So there it is: Something positive and wonderful amongst all the challenges of pregnancy. To all of you who hated being pregnant, who endured the nausea and exhaustion and couldn’t wait for it to be over: believe me, I understand. I hope you don’t want to chase after me with a stick, because I guarantee you can take me. Unless of course, you get between me and a triple chocolate brownie. In that case, watch your back.

%d bloggers like this: