I hate being pregnant.
And not just a little bit. This is a big hate. A loathe-every-minute and check-off-every-day type of hate. I detest it.
You can’t really blame me. I have pretty awful pregnancies grounded in all-encompassing sickness. The kind of sickness that relegates you to bed for months on end. That leads to depression and apathy. That isolates you from your loved ones and everything you used to care about. The kind of sickness that forces your husband to take over every aspect of your life and the family’s just to keep things going.
I dare say he hates it almost as much as I do.
And yet I’ve done it three times, with my last pregnancy ending just weeks ago. I still can’t believe it. My husband and I toasted to the end of my final pregnancy. The end of the debilitating sickness. The end of my misery. Finally – the start of our lives as a complete family of five.
And I was relieved. And absolutely overjoyed with the three incredible fruits of my labors. Thrilled to be done being pregnant.
Somewhere, somehow, there is a glimmer of longing. A pinprick ache in my heart for the days of pregnancy.
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The memories of illness are still fresh in my mind. I got sick yesterday watching a show that I watched while I was pregnant – the association is still that strong.
But there is more to it. More than the miserable physicality of it.
There’s the anticipation. The hours of wondering about this new life. What he will be like. How he will look. Who he will become.
The joy of watching his heartbeat flickering on an ultrasound screen. His little bean-shaped body floating behind the consistent blink blink blink of that busy heart. Grainy pictures that prove he is there even before any symptoms appear.
The fascination surrounding this miracle. This new human being who didn’t exist and now suddenly does. Who is growing independently while at the same time remaining completely dependent on me.
The deliciousness of the secret. A confidence that only my husband and I share as everyone else goes about their business, unknowing. The hushed discussions about when to reveal our news, making it official and real. Putting it out there for better or for worse. Making all of us vulnerable.
The wonder of new baby flutters. Questioning if they are kicks until soon enough there is no doubt that they are kicks and hits and rolls. A baby exploring inside, safe and warm. Knowing this is the only time I can keep him with me and guarantee his protection.
The hiccups. Revealing the baby’s humanity and normalness. Pondering what foods may have triggered the reaction. And counting each hiccup until they slow and ultimately stop.
The doctors. The appointments. The tests. The scans. All monitoring the fragile life that is maturing inside. Reassuring me that all is going well and that development is proceeding as expected. Making me feel triumphant, that I am doing things right, when really I have no control over any of it.
The joy of naming. The excitement of coming up with a lifelong moniker. Will he like it? Will it fit his personality? Is it the right one? Incorporating family names. Saying it over and over until it sounds like nonsense rolling off the tongue.
The fearful anticipation of delivery. Coming up with a perfect birth plan, full well knowing that I have no influence over the birth whatsoever. Compiling emergency numbers and recruiting trusted friends to help with child care. Packing maternity bags and touring hospitals.
The discomfort of false labor pains. Reminding me that the magic hour is coming soon, but not quite yet. That my body is warming up for the big day. Readying itself to help propel our miracle into the world.
That startling moment when I realize that it’s no longer a drill. That this is it. The trembling. The increasing waves of pain. The panic as I face the certainty that there is no turning back. The rush to the hospital and the teams of doctors and nurses attending to me and my fast-approaching baby. The combination of excitement, dread, agony, and anxiety as my limbs are stretched and monitors are beeping and doctors, nurses, husbands are drowned out by the screaming. My screaming. Knowing that I can’t handle it another second.
And then the euphoria. The screams replaced by the cries of a new person not ready for the commotion. The warmth of a perfect baby on my quivering belly. The first suckles. The tears. The never ending tears of joy streaming down my face as I caress a new baby head and cheek and arm and leg. For the first time. The frozen snapshot of a moment in time that will never be forgotten. That can’t be forgotten.
And this – all of this – is what I miss. I miss wondering who is about to join us. When he will join us. I miss the anticipation. The nervousness of meeting someone for the first time. The preparations. The knowledge that my body is creating a miracle. The sweet suspense of the wait.
And I realize that I’m sad we’re done. Possibly too sad. More sad than I would have thought.
But I know we’re done. Our family is complete. My countdown to the end of pregnancy is over. This last time was the final one.
I’m almost sure of it.