Thoughts on the Gifts of Pregnancy

I am 12 weeks away from the adventure of a lifetime. That is, I’m seven months pregnant and clocking in at 28 weeks, which means I’m on the verge of the third trimester.

Hold up, you say. You’re pregnant?!

Yeah, I am. Clearly, I’ve not been the best at keeping my blog updated. Those who know me well know that I’ve always had a difficult time keeping a journal consistently or even attending to my fiction writing aspirations regularly. I’m even worse at it when I’m left to my own devices. (It’s why it’s so much easier to go to the gym with a buddy or diet competitively with your cohorts, because you’re accountable to someone else and the guilt/shame related to being the one person to wuss out or hold the group back is a strong motivator.) So, if you didn’t know, now you do.

I’ve spent the last five months or so since I last posted thinking a lot in between doing a lot. What were you up to? you might ask. How did your de-cluttering and minimalism journey go?

Well, friend, let’s just say lovely project’s been on pause while our calendar filled up with (a) preparing to move, (b) moving into our own house, (c) actually trying to set up the house by buying a ton of furniture and working out what we needed, and (d) finding out we’re expecting. I can cross A and B off our list, but C is really this ongoing thing. Who knew setting up house would take way longer than you’ve ever expect? This is probably because we’ve had to reacquire so much of what we didn’t bring across the pond with us, but it’s also due to having to get acclimated to a place that came with no bathroom mirrors, no overhead lighting fixtures, and essentially no storage (so you’ve got to get creative and make all those million-and-one decisions about decor, design, color scheme, composition, and perhaps the most important point – will it fit?).

But back to calendar item D, the whole we’re-having-a-baby thing. That’s definitely been something I’ve spent the better part of the last few months obsessing over. First, there was the shock of finding out that we were pregnant. (I never actually know whether I should say I’m pregnant or we’re pregnant. After all, we made this baby together, but I’m the one that has to carry it, endure the symptoms associated with it and ultimately birth it…) I say it was a shock only because it was a pleasant surprise. Some of you may know me as already possessing an anxious nature, but after our previous experience, the surprise was quickly tainted by fear-twinged caution. Sure, statistics were in my favor. Plenty of women who miscarried their first go on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies. Would that be me?

We weren’t sure. So we kept quiet. We held onto a fragile kind of hope, said a few prayers, told our parents.

But even during the worst of my first trimester misery (because I was not lucky enough to bound through those first few weeks without being acutely aware that my body seemed to be betraying me. I envisioned a small alien living in my belly, gleefully slamming its fist down on a red EJECT button whenever some offending food entered my system), I was grateful. This tiny human forming inside of me was still there, still baking. I know a lot of women who would’ve traded places with me because I am aware of their struggles, of their losses, of the extent of their willingness to seek interventions that would help get them to where I was. And I’d landed here without medical aid and unexpectedly. So while the ride I was on wasn’t exactly fun, I knew we’d been blessed. Plus, there was the ever-comforting thought that others had it worse that I did, so just get through it.

I started to breathe easier at week 12, that magical week when they tell you the chances of miscarriage drop dramatically. I knew it wasn’t impossible to still experience loss – and truth be told, it’s not impossible even now at seven months – but it’s a lot easier to be more optimistic about what may be up ahead for us. My thoughts then turned from can we make it to 12 weeks to OMG, I have to give birth. So I read everything I could about what pregnancy does to your body, what’s likely to happen in birth, and I started thinking about just how would I get through that experience. Eventually, I started to get ahead of myself, like I often do, and started freaking out about how to be a parent. What sort of parent would I be? How could we prepare to be those people?

And when I finally calmed down enough to back away from that dark, dangerous precipice, I finally started to think practically. What does this baby need? And my god, the list people put out there is very long. But we’re not convinced that all those “needs” are actual “needs” so we’ve culled that list down to essentials and focused on that. We’ve started to buy her furniture, plan her room — oh right, I may have not mentioned, but we’re expecting a girl — and we’ve invested in doulas, prenatal (called “antenatal” here) courses and a hypnobirthing class. (Those are going on right now, and WOW, is there a lot to know!)

Throughout these last few months, I have to say that I’ve already learned a lot. Not just about the biology and physiology of birth and the female body and the many differences between birth in the US vs. birth in the UK, but also about really letting go. Because the number one thing I’ve learned is that there are so many things I cannot control. I couldn’t control how my body took to pregnancy, only try to relieve the more unpleasant symptoms as much as possible. I can’t control how my birth experience will turn out, but I can prepare as best I can for it and remain flexible as I approach it. I can’t control whether or not she develops perfectly or arrives on time, but I can do my best to make good choices as far as my diet and exercise go and I can continue to practice relaxation (so as not to stress myself or the baby out).

So while this child is a gift, she’s already given me something pretty incredible – the ability to embrace where we are on this journey and the freedom found in surrendering control. Que será, será, as they say…

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