*If you are not pregnant, not considering being pregnant, or generally not up for talk about the experience, by all means read no further. There will be no hurt feelings; this is just an attempt at honesty for the sake of relating to others through human experience on a topic in which I found it hard to come by.
In baby land, we are 24 weeks today which is pretty great! I feel really great for the past few weeks and I even slept 8 hours in a row, two nights in a row last week. I felt like I had hit the restful jackpot in reclaiming some of my really wonderful, solid sleep from pre-pregnancy days. Never fear, it didn’t last, but I sure enjoyed it.
Tim and I met later in life than perhaps we would have liked to, but we also both crammed in a ton of travel and life experience that normal 20-somethings don’t have long before we knew each other. Despite this, we have both had fleeting moments of “oh CRAP we should have waited and travelled more pre-baby raising!” Then we think about being 29 and 32 by the time he is actually here and we realize now is the time to start this show. It is exciting and terrifying, but really getting more fun by the day. We don’t make a ton of money, but we also value a simpler life than most of our peers and we really have everything we need, including our transcendental home in the woods. All in all, we are looking very forward to our nest in the woods hatching another nerdy baby hippie soul.
I have hesitated to speak much about my mental adjustments to pregnancy, but my Mom mentioned that maybe I should blog a little about it so here goes. I have raised my share of other peoples’ babies from 0-2, but you know, even when you start with a babe at 3 months old, there is a lot that had to happen first! You know this, of course, and so do I, but somehow it eluded me when I actually thought about being a parent. I knew I wanted to be a mom someday from the time I was about five, and by 27 I was committed to teaching, not marrying anyone, and adopting two babes on my own. Then I met Mr. Ballard teaching next door and I was a goner.
Even though I knew instantly that I wanted a family with Timmy, I feel totally blindsided by the experience of pregnancy as it happens to me now. The entire first four months I think I asked my Mom and sister about 800 times “is this normal??” They were probably ready to kill me. Now I try to only call them when something freaks me out at least a 6 out of 10 on the creepy scale. I have had friends tell me how much they loved being pregnant. Never sick, felt great, loved every minute of it. Seriously?! Maybe it’s all about your mindset, but I tried and tried to convince myself that I would love being pregnant and that my body would adapt wonderfully. Nope. Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of my coping skills during natural childbirth, eh? (My Mom is saying “you can say that again” as she reads this. She will be my doula, heaven love her.)
I am sort of prissy, I suppose. I like my solid sleep, I like my routine and my uber healthy cooking and eating. The first 20 weeks of pregnancy I was nauseated, couldn’t look in the fridge, had to pee, or was just generally uncomfortable. These words as I type them totally do not convey how not good I felt. The emotional turbulence made me feel borderline sad (thank goodness not to the point that I cried too much) and worried about not making Tim happy, or not being able to do enough in the house, or not feeling like I could remember what I was supposed to do, let alone get it done and cross it off the list I couldn’t even make for lack of coherent thoughts. The first trimester was also hideously nausea-ridden and narcoleptic in nature. This isn’t easy for a girl who likes to know what to expect and relies heavily on lists to maintain a positive demeanor! If this happens to you, it will get better. I am going to apologize for the universe and say I’m sorry that there is absolutely nothing to make time pass faster than it already does. Find a hobby. Or a tv show, preferably with several seasons, on Netflix.
Second trimester, my energy came back and I felt less nauseated by far (meaning I get really hungry at least twice a day,) but I still have a pretty significant set of “rules” I follow to prevent feeling sick in a day’s time and I am fine with that! For me this means no dairy, no meat, and only fresh food and peanut butter toast/crackers/rice cakes until dinnertime. Cooked food? Not before dinner. Cheese? Just a little? No. I do have it a few times a week, and then I mumble about poor decisions and feel generally like I don’t want to see food again, ever, until the next day when my dairy-free resolve is strengthened again.
I think if I had looked at early pregnancy with a troubleshooting mindset to figure out what foods made me feel gaggy, I would have found my “rules” much earlier and felt better earlier. People say eat what sounds good, but I applied it as “eat what sounds good as long as it is nutritive on some level.” I craved one food first trimester: dark chocolate cake. I didn’t eat much of anything aside from organic apples, grapefruits, peanut butter, and pretzel rods or I was sick as a dog, but I regularly wanted cake. For those of you who don’t know, this is quite unlike me. I didn’t eat a single piece, but I remember thinking at least ten times over several weeks “if Kroger wasn’t so damn far away…” I should probably thank Tim for picking the house in the woods.
I don’t want to be negative about the pregnancy process because it is really remarkable to look down right now and see him wiggling around (apparently he likes Mozart, too) but I had a hard time with it because people don’t tend to talk about how hard it can be to feel so unlike yourself when there is so much going on in your body. Of the stacks of pregnancy books on my shelves, nothing made me feel like anyone understood my experience, and that feeling of loneliness on top of sore boobs about put me over the edge. Just ask Tim. I vehemently argued that no one would ever have more than one child if they remembered what it felt like those first months.
I have had a few very good weeks now and already I feel all of the negativity of my first one and a half trimesters dissolving as I get more and more excited about a tiny human and as I get more used to the new routine that keeps me feeling energetic and not sick. So there’s my take on the first half of pregnancy. Here’s hoping that this little tirade on pregnancy can make at least one person feel less alone when the time comes. It gets better! I finally feel like pregnancy is fun. Once you figure out what to do to feel good and commit to doing it, you will feel so much better. Anyone have any tips for the second half of pregnancy? I’m all ears.