Pregnancy: Lost in Translation

Since my pregnancy I’ve had a few questions from men and women curious to know what pregnancy feels like. I’ve also patiently listened to a few uninformed misinterpretations of what other people thought pregnancy was like. So here’s my attempt to share a very subjective personal experience.

First off, no two pregnancies are alike. There are patterns of symptoms that pregnant women get, but the overall experience for each woman is very different. Why? Because our bodies are different, the reasons we got pregnant are different,  our lives are different, our families are different, and so on.

So my experience is really a speck of sand, a snowflake, a blink of an eye. It is unique but of little significance to anyone other than myself, and my immediate family. So, if you’re here for some profound insight into the universal experience of pregnancy or motherhood, I suggest you look elsewhere. But if you’re bored and have nothing else to do, why not read on.

First trimester

Getting out of bed in the morning felt like getting off an hour long roller coaster. I was disheveled, disoriented and nauseated. During the day, it felt like I was battling a hangover at work. I shamefully sneaked off into the bathroom every 30 minutes dry-heaving or sometimes full on vomiting my guts out. I strategically tried to avert eye contact with coworkers, loud noises and bright lights. I counted down the minutes until I could go home and crawl into bed again.

My body produced an insane cocktail of hormones. I felt like a lethal combination of uppers and downers was intravenously injected into my bloodstream every 2 hours. Some moments, I felt excited and delighted. Other moments, I felt mournful and depressed. The triggers for these drastic mood swings were unpredictable. While playing with my daughter, I felt excited that she’ll have a sibling in her life. Then a few moments later, while playing with my daughter, I was nostalgic for the present moment, mournful of missing my daughter when baby comes to monopolize my time and attention. Same scenario, completely different feelings and thoughts.

Second trimester

I felt relief from the nausea and random mood swings. I started to feel baby growing. She was growing exponentially. I started to notice baby’s movements, and how she was rapidly rearranging my internal organs. While she was redecorating, I felt my innards shifting and changing.

My stomach was dramatically downsized. I could only eat a handful of food at any given time. If I ate too much, I would instantly feel ill. But because I ate so little, I was constantly hungry. My bladder was also downsized. It shrank to the size of a peanut. It felt like baby’s sadistic little hands loved squeezing on this tiny peanut every hour. And when she squeezed, I ran to the nearest bathroom to pee out a few droplets of the water I drank only minutes ago. This sweet little torment persisted all through the second and third trimester.

Third trimester

I currently resemble a fertility statue. My breast are each the size of my head, and my belly is so huge I barely recognize my flattened bellybutton. None of my bras fit, but my protruding belly does such a great job at holding up my breast, I fail to see the purpose of bras anymore.

Baby is very active now. She is most active at night, when I am most exhausted and desperate for sleep. I can see my belly undulating every time she rolls over from one side to the other. She also loves to wildly swing her elbows and legs around, making my internal organs the walls of her private bouncy castle. Her kicks are sometimes so powerful, I’m thrown off my center of gravity. Sometimes these powerful kicks would jerk me awake in the middle of the night. As I try to fall back asleep, she would play her sweet little game of squeezing my peanut bladder until I’m forced out of bed once again to pee the little droplets of liquid I have left in my dehydrated body.

In earnest, pregnancy is an uncomfortable biological phenomenon, but spiritually and emotionally it is the most rewarding ride of my life. I am awed every single day. I can’t believe a little conscious life is growing inside me. I haven’t met her yet, but I am already deeply in love with her.

 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

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Nesting: Round Two

Here I go again! 7 months pregnant; exhausted, excited and growing bigger everyday. My nesting instincts are starting to kick in, but this time, it’s a little different. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was frantic the last two months of pregnancy. I made my husband turn our house topsy turvy. I changed my mind twice (more like thrice) over which room would be baby’s and where the furniture would go. I shopped and splurged on the right organic, nontoxic baby  lotions, ointments, shampoo and so on.

This time around, my nesting energy is very different. I’m not only preparing for a new baby, I’m also preparing my young daughter for a sibling. I’m reminding my husband of what I was like with  a newborn and what I need from him during this time. I’m taking time for myself to rest when I need to, relax when I can, and do the things I love while I have precious time.

My husband and I remind our young daughter everyday that baby is coming. We gently tell her about newborns. We tell her how babies cry a lot, and how babies need a lot of help and attention. We also remind her, she needs to be a “big girl”, and try her best to be independent and helpful.

In addition to these very serious conversations, I’m trying my best to spend as much time with my daughter as possible. No matter how tired or sore I get, I take a few hours a day to play with her. I schedule my day so all chores, cooking, and socializing happens during the day when she is at daycare. As soon as she comes through the front door in the afternoon, I am all hers. Some nights are more difficult than others, and sometimes it is physically impossible, but I try. I try not only for her, but also for myself.

I know I will miss my sweet daughter dearly when I have a newborn to care for. I know the time we have together will be shorter, strained and difficult. With a newborn I will be an overtired sleep deprived zombie. The mommy my daughter knows and loves will change, and she will have to compete for my strained attention. Because I know all this, I cherish our precious time together.

My husband and I have a very smooth daily routine. We take things easy, touch base often and are mostly in sync. Lately our seamless routine is often upset by my mood swings, sudden sickness and foggy mind. This has taken him by surprise. He sometimes gets dumbfounded; not really knowing how to react, comfort, sooth or help me.

I take these “teachable moments” to remind my husband of the drastic postpartum transformation that took place with our first daughter. I remind him of how his happy-go-lucky cheerful wife became an anxiety ridden, irritable, depressed, sleep deprived, helpless rage-monster. I get very honest and tell him how sorry I am now for all of the irrational things I will blame him for in the future.  I ask him to exercise his super human powers of thoughtfulness, kindness, and patience. I also remind him that after the pain, sleeplessness and depression subsides, he will get his wife back. This I promised him.

When pregnant with my first daughter I took hypno-birthing and prenatal classes to prepare myself for labor and beyond. But this time around I find myself longing for spiritual training to fortify my mind and body for the next stage of my life. This longing has always led me back to Yoga and meditation.

Through research and serendipity I stumbled on a one month intensive yoga teacher training program close to home. The program takes place next month in February. It maybe ill advised to take an intensive yoga training program during the last trimester of pregnancy, but I feel confident in my ability to discern what is safe and not safe for my body.

I know this to be true: to be my most compassionate and aware self, I need daily spiritual practice. During periods of great change, I often find stress and anxiety can overwhelm me.  I also know, when alone and left to my own devices I will listen to unhealthy impulses, and regress to lethargy. In the past, my practice only flourished within a spiritual community. Taking a yoga intensive course for a month is my way of recreating the supportive spiritual community I need.

Nesting during pregnancy is a very real phenomenon. It’s one that I’ve experienced during both of my pregnancies. This impulse to prepare your environment for a new life is very powerful. How it has manifest for me this time around is interesting. This time, my nesting impulse has compelled me to focus not on baby’s physical environment, but on the relational environment she is born into.

I want baby to know her family eagerly awaits her. She has an amazing older sister who will show her how to be resilient, self reliant, and loving. She has a father who will teach her kindness, patience and generosity. She has a mother who will strive to be compassionate, self-aware and present throughout her life.

To my wonderful daughter and the little life inside me: May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you live with ease. May you know you are loved. From the moment of your conception to your very last breath, you are dearly loved.

 

Magic

I watch you

Such lofty dreams

Making opportunity

Of impulse and whimsy

Dancing bare feet

On cobbled streets

Grand gestures commanding

Reality away, away

I stay standing

Waiting, watching

My feet too firm

Too grounded

To dance, to dance.