How will I feel? What will my body do? Those were the first questions running through my mind when I use to wonder about getting pregnant. Now I know it's really a process of discovery that unfolds with each passing day. Some days are better than others. Going in, you never know what to expect.
The first few months of my pregnancy were pretty mild in comparison to some of the stories I heard. Most people say that you feel the worst during the first tri-meter. Besides the intense nausea that occurred the first month, it was really not bad. Though disappointingly, I lost my appetite for chocolate, sweets, and coffee. Becoming the healthiest of eaters, eating 5-6 small meals a day, surprised me. It's not that I was unhealthy before. But suddenly being responsible for more than myself, I felt a great need to really be healthy. It was a new found energy. And, I would actually pack snacks to take to work like fruits and veggies. It felt like I was constantly eating in between client meetings and phone calls. Every time a colleague would stop by my office I was eating. Who knew?
All gung-ho, I was determined to stay in shape and not gain too much weight. I figured the more I did now, the less I'd have to do after the baby was born. I had already overcome the hardest part...eating junk food. So, I went to the gym in the evenings after work and on weekends. Biking with my husband. Even did a bit of running. This lasted for a few months. And then, I just ran out of energy and motivation.
Weeks passed and my growing belly was barely recognizable to me. I found it all very surreal. You live with your body all your life and suddenly (and not so suddenly) it changes before your eyes into something so profound (and protruding)...supporting a new life. I used to rub my belly like I was in a trance. Around my fifth month is when I "popped." This is a common term amongst the initiated. Since there is only so much room within your stomach cavity, there reaches a point when the growing fetus has no where else to go but out. Almost overnight it happens. From a small belly bump to a protruding ball of a belly. And, out comes the maternity wear. At least, that's when I had to start wearing it. It's really not that bad.
First, you now officially look pregnant. People of all walks of life will acknowledge your belly with delight. I even had a store clerk come from behind the counter to rub my belly. My husband watched in disbelief. Amazing how new life/babies connect people like few other things do. Interesting (and not so surprising) to point out that the clerk was a woman. Only the rare man would have the cohones to reach out and touch the belly of a strange woman...with her husband standing right there.
Second, maternity clothes are so cute. I found the most stylish clothes. Much more stylish, I felt, than my regular clothes. Adorable casual, smart business and flattering formal wear. And two of the cutest swimsuits. All pretty affordable too. As a woman with your body stretching out in all strange directions, cute clothes can mean the difference between a good and rotten day! I'm sure you've experienced those mornings rifling through your closet for something that fits, only to end up disgusted that nothing does cementing the start of a bad day. All the raging hormones don't help either.
This was also about the time I went on an information shopping spree, buying/borrowing/checking out at the library every book I could find on pregnancy and giving birth. Inexplicably, I felt with urgency, the need to find out everything I could about pregnancy and bringing new life into the world. I would read every time I had the chance, keeping the hot book of the moment in my purse to read at lunch, at the doctor's office or standing in line for something. And, at night I would read until my eyes glazed over. For my effort, I did learn the mechanics of how my body was changing, and what to expect in delivery. However, many of the books were fluff. Essentially, giving you what I'd equate to common sense. I do find it helpful to have reference books around to answer questions that come up. And they do come up. Pregnancy and giving birth are hands-on learning experiences. Essentially, no-one can prepare you for what you'll encounter. You just have to live through it yourself.
As the months progressed, my pace slowed and I felt a deepening sense of calm. Perhaps this was pure exhaustion. I was working full-time at a rather demanding job with a significant (2-3 hours) commute. And, the bigger I got, the more restless I slept. Not to mention more trips to the bathroom. This was also when the heartburn started... almost daily. It seemed no matter what I ate, I got it. So, I started carrying Mylanta and Tums in my purse. Exciting, eh?
But, my evenings brought me new delights. I started to feel the baby move after dinner (in my fifth month). What an amazing feeling. Almost like butterflies flickering. At our 1st ultra-sound (10 weeks), I was moved to tears as I watched the monitor and saw a sprite little being swimming around. That was before I could feel movement. It was amazing how you could make out the curvature of the spine as well as the developing jaw bones. By the second ultra-sound (20 weeks), you couldn't see the whole body at once. The nurse had to maneuver the machine to find the different body parts. Very cool how they can check the fetus to see if it's developing properly.
The baby was getting bigger and stronger and starting to move on a daily basis. I was also getting bigger. This was when my dear husband took to teasing me about my newly developed walk. "Can you waddle over here?" he'd say with a half-cocked smile. By now, well into my seventh month, I was absolutely huge. And, losing steam. I'd come home from work, have dinner, and then lay down on the couch. Within minutes, I was asleep. Often in the midst of a conversation with my husband.
Just maneuvering was becoming an interesting challenge. It's wasn't easy to sit in a chair anymore. And getting in and out of a car was a bit of a trick. I had a hard time staying in one position for any length of time. For weeks, I felt a foot or hand lodged under my ribs. I was carrying the baby like a basketball. So, most of my weight was front and center.
Everyone I encountered thought that the way I was carrying surely meant I was having a boy. From people at work, to family and friends, to the Asian girls at the nail salon. My husband and I had decided to be surprised about the sex of our baby. People generally mean well, but it's funny how anyone who has had children or given birth gives you unsolicited advice. They are all experts just bursting to share their wisdom with you. It really gets annoying at times. But, you smile. Act interested. And, say thank-you. Even when you feel like saying "shut-up. I don't want to hear another story or hear how I should be doing this or that." Sounds pretty callous, I'm sure. Maybe it's the hormones. But, at times you really feel this way.
As the final months approached, we were moving into high gear with last minute home improvements like painting and cleaning. We had a few rooms painted. We cleaned the entire house including every single closet, cabinet and even the refrigerator. We had the carpets and even our air duct's cleaned. Then onto opening a gift registry, decorating the nursery, and buying baby furniture and other baby supplies.
Nine months to create new life is really a blessing. Although, at times, it seems an eternity. There is so much to adjust to besides your changing body. Once the baby is born you (and your significant other) are solely responsible for another human being... for the rest of your life. Yah. That's a huge deal. So, besides all the immediate preparation to make your space baby ready, including all the "gear" you have to get, my husband and I had to think about our future. How were we planning on raising our child? This brought on conversations about discipline, religion, and education to name a few. And then, what about protecting our future? That means life insurance and college savings and saving for a bigger house.
Making a family is the fun part. But raising one is a whole other story.
Please share your pregnancy experiences with us below or in our forum.
Stay tuned next time when I share my discovery of the joys and pains of what's in a name.