There, I said it. Before becoming pregnant with Ethan, I had all of these expectations about pregnancy in which the glamour rivaled my excitement. I saw visions of maxi dresses and people stopping me in public to acknowledge "the glow" I heard people speak of. It wasn't really like that. After knowing I was pregnant for only a short month, I had to quit my job because I was too sick to function. I had to be chauffered to my OB visits by my mom, dad, anyone who was available because I couldn't stop vomiting long enough to make it there and back. I carried a bright green mop bucket with me everywhere and quickly got over my fear of in public (or in transit) puking. The acne on my face was so bad that it physically hurt and emergency room ID bands were my most worn fashion accessory.
21 weeks with Ethan, sporting one of many hospital ID bands
27 weeks with Ethan and the last time our 'fridge would be without a pee jug that pregnancy. Om nom nom.
I didn't just suck at pregnancy. I sucked at childbirth and recovery, too. And throw in a handful of hormonal postpartum sadness and I had written off ever having a baby again.
But this pregnancy has been different. I'm twelve weeks today and still sick in the mornings, but I feel like I can't complain when I think back to what my last pregnancy was like. I can take the nausea with a toasted bagel and some sips of water and I can take the afternoon fatigue with the occasional nap at grandma's house. And though I'm only twelve weeks and my pants don't fit and brushing my teeth makes me sick and my face looks worse than it did when I was a teenager, I still can't help compare myself to the composed ladies sitting in the waiting room of my OB office. The ones with the heels and fancy clothes and perfectly ironed hair and faces full of make-up. The ones with the tiny little basketball bellies who laugh with each other about how easy breezy labor is. I think I leave my doctor's office wondering what I'm doing wrong (or at least bitterly rolling my eyes) each time.
For me, pregnancy doesn't feel natural. It's wonderful, yes, and I feel fortunate to be on my second pregnancy (which is a world away from where I was when Ethan was born, ready to tie my tubes and call it quits). But it doesn't feel natural. It feels strange, every bit of it, like I'm no longer myself. I'm like a slowed down version of myself but not really myself. My anxiety is always ready to peak, wondering if this pregnancy will continue to be different from my last, or not, or maybe enough to skirt bedrest. When I think to this baby's birth, I let my mind wander to a place of I just don't want to be that sad again like I was last time, when I have no memories of family coming to meet Ethan except for the photos someone else took while I was zonked out on enough drugs to stop a charging rhino. I want to share my super sweet doctor's optimism when she acts like it's the most awesome thing in the world I'm pregnant and I shouldn't even think of how it went last time. And the weirdest part is being torn between this being my last pregnancy -- and the hurt that comes with that, given the fact I'm still a couple years away from being thirty -- and wanting the four kids I always thought would be fun to have.
I think I'm a good mommy. I think being a mommy came natural to me but pregnancy surely doesn't. I sit around and listen to women talk about how wonderful pregnancy is and miraculous and great and beautiful and I wonder what I did wrong. I read and listen to women talk about their birth stories and feel empowered and liberated and like their bodies can do anything and curse my own faulty body for being stupidly inferior. I mean, talk about toddlers and favorite bath products and best brand of shorts for bigger kids and I'm all over that. But the pregnancy love? The "I pushed for two hours with no epidural" stories? Allow me to stun you with my silence.
But eye on the prize, right?
And then it's all worth it, in the end.