I’m 37 weeks pregnant with my first baby – crazy! I know life is about to change in all sorts of wonderful, exhausting, fun, and overwhelming ways. I must say, I have definitely hit the point of being really ready to be DONE with pregnancy – not just because I can’t wait to meet my daughter, but because honestly, overall, pregnancy has not been very fun! (I’ve struggled some with whether I’m allowed to say that.) I have close friends who spent years fruitlessly trying to get pregnant and others who have had challenging, high risk pregnancies that brought on lots of stress and fear. In contrast, I have been blessed to get pregnant easily and not to have any real complications over these past nine months. I promise that none of that has been lost on me, and I’m thankful every day. However, because of that, I feel GUILTY admitting that I hate being pregnant whenever people ask how I’m doing. I’m finally giving myself permission to acknowledge that and believe that it doesn’t take anything away from how simultaneously grateful I am that I have been given this opportunity.
What’s been so hard about this experience? Not feeling myself.
From the sheer exhaustion and nausea of my first trimester to the discomfort and return of that exhaustion in the final months, I haven’t been a lot of fun to be around. On top of that, pretty much since day one, I haven’t enjoyed food in the same way. For someone that loves to cook and dine out, that’s been difficult. I’ve stood up at best friends’ weddings counting the minutes until I can get back to the hotel and get in bed. I’ve endured family vacations where every excursion felt like torture. And I’ve straight up missed countless social events because I knew I wouldn’t be the life of the party. That’s made me feel less connected to people at a time when I should be making the most of my free time and friendships.
Gaining this much weight can also be mentally difficult. I definitely didn’t comprehend just how big I would get! I am now down to rotating about five outfits, which I may just have to burn when this is over, as they’ve gotten so much airtime. I look in my closet and wonder if I’ll fit in “normal” clothes again. It’s all a small price to pay for my child, of course, but it’s not easy feeling out of control of what is happening to your body and wondering if you’ll ever feel connected to it again.
However, in these final few weeks (at least in what little time I am awake these days!) I want to make a conscious choice to savor all the wonderful things about this experience too.
Avoiding alcohol is a great “reset”! As a lover of wine in particular, the idea of giving up alcohol for even a few weeks let alone most of a year would have been laughable to me if I wasn’t forced into it. I’m still really looking forward to opening some special bottles we’ve been saving, but it really does feel good and healthy to have taken a breather. Knowing that I don’t have to plan around a hangover after a big night out is pretty nice too!
I also love feeling my baby move! Sure, many times it’s uncomfortable – particularly when I’m trying to sleep or focus in a big work meeting and getting kicked in the ribs! But it is truly the most special experience, and while my husband can feel it as well, I know that it’s not quite the same for him. It’s a reminder that she has come everywhere with me for these last nine months, and I know I’m going to miss that when I have to leave her to come back to work after maternity leave… and of course when we flash forward to the teenage years!
I also don’t want to downplay how fun the anticipation and waiting is! The countless hours we have spent trying to think up a perfect name, preparing the nursery, and shopping for teeny tiny clothing. We have been wondering what our child’s personality will be like, feeling both excited and nervous about how life is going to change… it’s all been a very special time for my husband and me. It’s like a Christmas countdown when you were a kid, but on a whole new level, and I know I’ll miss the daydreaming as much as I’ll be happy to actually be holding her in my arms.
Pregnancy and, by extension, motherhood – by whatever means you became a mother – is an amazing connection that all of us women share. It’s an experience that really binds us across ages and backgrounds. It’s been so amazing to have this in common with older women I meet through work, my mother and mother-in-law, or women I meet while running errands or on the street. What a bond we have in both the ups and downs of all of this, and what a reminder that we should be supportive and encouraging of one another! I’m so happy to be a part of this wonderful club.