Disclaimer: When I lost my first baby, I read a book by multiple authors that had each lost a child, and one of the authors referenced her lack of ability to sympathize with exhausted new moms or with frazzled mothers of multiple children. She said, "We can only know our own kind of grief". And while this pregnancy and baby is something for which I am entirely grateful, it is hard for me to channel the kind of longing I felt before I was pregnant. I can only channel back pain right this second. So this is no disrespect to my time of infertility or to those women who long to be pregnant. That pain is real, just like this is. And to my new mommy friends who are up every two hours feeding a baby and to my friends who spend their days chasing children and cleaning up messes, yours is real, too. Let's embrace the realness of the pain and the blessings of the moment.
When a woman gets pregnant for the first time, she thinks that she will be one of the lucky ones. You know the type. The kind of girl that stays perfectly sized with the exception of the tiniest of baby bumps. No stretch marks. Not one moment of morning sickness. No food aversions. No mood swings. No swelling. No sleeping problems. Just nine months of birds singing and preparing a sweet little nursery for the easy arrival of the cutest little bundle of joy that never cries and sleeps through the night immediately.
Well, for those of you who have yet to be pregnant, this girl doesn't exist. Or maybe she does and I don't know her. But either way, you will not be her. If she is real, she is the exception and not the rule. You will not be her. I cannot stress that enough. The odds are not in your favor.
When I was barely 10 weeks along, I developed something called meralgia parasthetica. Basically it's just a pinched nerve in my hip. But what it means is that when I lie down on my left or right side, my left hip goes completely numb. And it's not a "oh, I can't feel anything" kind of numbness, it's an overwhelming "I wish I could cut off my left leg at the hip" kind of painful numbness that only makes sense if you are the one experiencing it. The doctor's solution is to give birth. That will solve the problem. Excellent. Except not. 25 weeks down, only 5 more to go.
And since about 22 weeks, people have been commenting on my size. And for whatever reason, complete strangers feel the freedom to make remarks about the size of my belly. I am inclined to do the same about them, pregnant or no. It might shut some of them up. But at my 28 week appointment, the doctor seemed a little concerned, so he requested an ultrasound for my next appointment. At 30 weeks, they told me. There it was in ominous red print on a black and white sheet of paper: polyhydramnios. I was give the paper with no explanation and was told to wait for the doctor. So I did what any smartphone owning girl would do... I googled it.
I have been warned not to google medical terms. WebMD is not our friend. But I did it anyway, and it scared the bejesus out of me. I had a quick meltdown and decided to wait to hear what the doctor had to say. And basically, this was her diagnosis.
You have a lot of amniotic fluid in there. A whole lot. Doesn't seem to be a problem. Baby is fine. A LOT of fluid.
And that was that.
Every week since then, I have been back for an ultrasound. Tiny gets checked. They make sure he can move and breathe (practice breathing, anyway) and that he is growing appropriately. He is doing all of those things. He is a big boy. He passes every test. He is a genius already.
And then there's me. I am huge. Measuring about 42 weeks at 36 weeks. My maternity clothes are tight. There is not one sleeping position that is comfortable. Either my hips hurt or my back hurts or more often, both hurt. I can't stand without severe back pain and Braxton Hicks contractions. I am way past waddling. I am barely moving. And everyone comments. Everyone. Cashiers. Little old ladies in the grocery store.
When are you due?
And my new answer is "Any day now" because I want it to be true.
My dreams of the tiny baby belly are gone. I am full fledged pregnant lady sized (and then some). I have thrown up in my kitchen sink on a day when I could not make it to the bathroom on time. A huge portion of my belly rests in my lap when I sit. If I am wearing a dress, I literally tuck part of the dress in between my stomach and my legs so it doesn't feel so disgusting. I really do this. Peanut butter gives me heartburn. I gag when I try to eat spaghetti sauce. I went to the store the other day wearing flip flops in the freezing cold (and with the world's most chipped pedicure) because Jake wasn't here to tie my tennis shoes. I just can't reach them anymore. The only comfortable place to sit in my whole house is a vintage yellow chair that doesn't hurt my back too much, as long as I don't sit there very long. Climbing into Jake's truck is like a scene from an old black and white slapstick comedy. I cry every time Jake says something that hits me the wrong way. I laughed uncontrollably through the relaxation portion of my prenatal classes. I laughed so hard that I literally had mascara smeared across my face at the end. I almost had an accident right then and there. Jake was mortified. And so was I... kind of. I am too tired to feel too much embarrassment. And this baby that should be feeling a little confined in a tiny little hot tub sized pool of amniotic fluid is actually swimming in his own Olympic sized pool. Seriously, he can do the backstroke in there. That's how much room he has.
And there are other things. Things I can't mention. Things I wouldn't dare talk about for the sake of propriety and the fact that boys read this blog on occasion. But you women who have been through this. You know. You know what they are. And I am a little mad that you didn't tell me they were coming. You could have at least warned me.
So my cutesy pregnant girl expectations are long gone. And before I know it, this baby will be here. My idyllic new mom expectations will also be gone with sleepless nights and spit up and diaper explosions. And my body will still look pregnant for a while, even though it's not. There will be a new set of things to laugh at myself for (and to cry over) then.
But for today, I'll be here in my yellow chair. I won't get up much, except to go to the bathroom every five minutes and to grab my bottle of Tums. And this sweet baby will keep growing and swimming for a few more weeks. But if you need us, you'll know where to find us.