You may be wondering why you haven’t heard from me. Or you may not. I’ve been rather dreading this post.
“But why?” you ask. Am I not enjoying the beauty and majesty of this little miracle? Am I not daily struck with awe that there is a future person growing fingernails and eyelashes and a central nervous system out of nothing but the supplies my own body provides? Do I not stare in wonder at the mirror as my body changes to envelop this magical being? Am I not suffused in that mystical glow of motherhood?
Well, duh. Of course. Except for the glow. The glow is a fracking lie and I’ll fight anyone who says differently.
Now some of that joy and awe and wonder comes in the form of “my belly button looks weird” and “why are you kicking my bladder, I just peed” and “OH MY GAWD, MY STOMACH IS MOVING ON ITS OWN, I’M HAVING AN ALIEN.” I promise you that I do just lay here with hands on stomach, constantly feeling that little pressure that could be a back or a foot or a hand. I smile at funny hiccups and wake someone up on purpose just so I can feel that bizarre little squirm that reminds me of indigestion, but without the dread. I mean, the dread is there, just for completely different reasons.
However, I told myself I would record honestly. Not for your sake or the sake of future mothers or the sake of my child getting thoroughly embarrassed when I share these posts with prom dates. I told myself that I wouldn’t allow selective memory to turn this experience into a glowy, fru-fru, fantasy, which ignores how much it can utterly suck. That way, if we decide to do this again I can go in with the knowledge of exactly how much it sucked the first time. The problem is in order for this to work, I have to share everything publicly. Why? Well, a private diary would accomplish the same thing as far as recording the events, I suppose. But sharing the experience publicly is healthier for me emotionally. And, yes, of course I tell people at work and prenatal group and Buddy all about everything (poor traumatized Buddy). I just tend to temper some of my accounts, as we all do, so as not to sound whiney.
And I want to be clear before I start into the actual whining that I am in no way ungrateful that I am in the position to whine. I am eminently aware that this is a miracle not granted to all, that it isn’t some kind of automatic privilege/penance for having a uterus, and that some people would kill to be in my position. Countless women have been killed by my position. Others live with a misplaced feeling of failure because their bodies will not accommodate their desire to be in my position. Others have every right to despise me for having the option to simply get pregnant without any to-do and then have the nerve to complain that it isn’t all puppies and chocolate.
But it isn’t all puppies and chocolate. It’s reality and it sucks.
There is no way to be comfortable. Not sitting, not laying down, definitely not standing. Back in October (4 months), I started experiencing pain in my ribs from standing. At first it was standing for a few hours. I would start to feel discomfort under my breasts, right where the band of my bra sits. I tried changing bras a few times. I tried belly support bands. I tried Icy Hot and (doctor approved) pain killers. Nothing would relieve it until it was a lovely white-hot brand of pain across my front and gradually leeching to my sides and back. Now, I can stand for 5-10 minutes before it starts. It isn’t just when standing, either. If I sit or lay the wrong way (there is only one right way, btw), the pain is there. And it hurts, it really does. It feels like my inflamed gall bladder is being forced through my sternum, like my ribs are trying to secede from my spine, like my kid is claustrophobic and is pushing the walls out just to breath. Even if the active pain isn’t going on, I can run my hands over the front of my ribs and they feel bruised.
Now, before you hit me with advice to try this remedy or that, or to tell my doctor or whatever, just slow your roll. This is not a request for help. I have talked to my midwife and nurse and they assure me that neither my gall bladder nor any other internal organs are trying to Xenomorph their way out of my sternum. (If it was a problem with my gall bladder, there would be other rather obvious symptoms.) This is just part of being pregnant. My body is expanding to make space for a person and support system and it does that by forcing everything out of the way. My ribs are simply in the way. As for remedies, I have a microwavable sock filled with rice that helps a little. Sometimes, I lay flat on my back to relieve the pressure, but that is not recommended for a few reasons (primarily the weight of my uterus possibly cutting off circulation to the rest of me, etc). Besides, it hurts my back.
Yes, because if my front doesn’t hurt my back does. And frequently they hurt together. I spent part of my Christmas break sequestered in the guest bedroom of the In-Laws because I couldn’t get comfortable anywhere else. If I did hang out in the living room, which features beautiful recliners and lots of pillows, by the end of the day I’d be wincing from every sudden movement. Believe me, I tried. So I stayed in the bedroom in my one (temporarily) comfortable position and tried to assure everyone that I was fine. Seriously. I’m fine. I feel bad that I can’t socialize except at meals and for causing any undo concern for my welfare. This is, apparently, part of the pregger cross I bear.
And it is definitely the worst part. It makes life difficult. There’s no such thing as leisurely wandering a store for an hour, pausing to contemplate labels or price tags or wait for someone to move from in front of the lemons. The longer I’m in there, the more pain I’m in until I’m getting weird looks from people because I am sitting on the floor in the baking aisle to relieve it. I suppose this is good training for when I’m trying to run errands with a baby/toddler/teenager, not that I’m dreading that at all.
And yes, you may poo-poo me for being bummed that shopping is a race rather than a meander. You would be right, I suppose. However, the other major issue is that I’ve had to give up working the floor in my retail job. I still have my office work, but that is only 12 hours a week. I know, I should be happy that I’m not pressing my nose to the grindstone for these last few weeks, that I have the option to relax a little, that I don’t live in a 3rd World Country where women work in the rice fields until the drop the baby in the patties. But I am deeply selfish. I don’t like losing the pay. You see, babies are expensive. And while Buddy has a stable job and good pay, that extra 13% I bring to the financials is a nice cushion for the disasters that are sure to come.
And having to tell my boss that I can’t do it anymore hurt my pride more than I care to admit. So, hey, if you see me at work and you wonder why I’m not racing to the register to check you out, why I instead point to the call button that everyone walks by rather than to scan your stuff real quick, it’s because real quick hurts. I pushed through it for the holidays, even bringing in a stool for the last week or so, but now I’m done with standing. I’m sorry if that is inconvenient for you, but if you insist on making the pregnant woman ring you out to save you 5 min (especially the pregnant woman who isn’t wearing the standard uniform of salespersons, i.e. a bright green apron), then you can bet I have a very special set of vocabulary set aside for you in my head.
As I said, that is the worst of it. I can’t work the floor. Running quick errands is an endurance trial. There is no way to be comfortable. And I can’t sleep on my side, despite that being the recommended sleeping position and totally normal for me before I started growing a person. I sleep sitting at a decline or half on my side with a pillow at my back. Or I don’t sleep.
And in case you were wondering, I am aware that it’s only going to get worse. I know that when there’s nothing else to say or when you’re speaking out of experience that this phrase is going to come up. It is obviously only going to get worse. For the next 18 years or more. For the rest of my life perhaps. But definitely for the next 10 weeks. I wish there was something to be done or said. Mostly though, I wish I could stop hearing this phrase. Which means I should probably stop complaining as it does nobody no good.
My belly button looks weird. Not in the “button popped, turkey is done” way (yet). But some of it is seeing the light of day for the first time ever so I have an expanding circle of pale skin right in the middle of my freakish belly. We don’t measure my growth by scale or tape measurer. We measure by how shallow my belly button is.
I get nose bleeds more frequently now, too. I know I’m not drinking enough water, despite having to pee every couple of hours. Still. I had to pause my yoga this morning for 10 min while I waited one out. It was gross. And I’ll continue to have intermittent nose bleeds for the next few days or so, mostly just a little red when I blow my nose, rarely a full on “grab the Kleenex and start making nose plugs until it stops.” This is also normal.
And I need to blow my nose frequently because my compromised immune system has been fighting some cold or another for the last 6 months. To the lady who came in on Black Friday and admitted to just recovering from bronchitis, I hope your cat gets into your craft room and marks all of your fabric and yarn, then yacks 16 hairballs on your sewing machine.
I wake up to pee at 4 in the morning. Or rather, I wake up at 4 in the morning and then go to pee because I’m awake now so I might as well. If my bladder does ever get full, it’s too late and I’m going to wet myself. Thankfully, the bladder is a regular punching bag so it never has a chance to fill before someone thinks maybe 2 Tbs is too much to be carrying.
Amazingly, I haven’t had an uptick in migraines. Which will change now that I’ve jinxed myself.
Also surprising, I haven’t really been making baby stuff. My yarn groups have asked me what I’ve made so far and all I can say is that I made a shawl in Nov that will make a nice cover-up. Yesterday I started making a floor mat for the nursery, but only because I ran out of yarn for the capelet and shirt projects I had started and I have to wait for more yarn to arrive. And I made a bunch of little red newborn hats, but those were to donate to hospitals over the holidays. My nesting instinct is not to make a bunch of cute stuff. It’s to troll thrift stores for cheap onesies and make lists for what we still have to do.
Shout out to Buddy for putting up with this particular branch of my crazy. We’ve been talking about big projects that we want to finish before the ARRIVAL, like bringing in pros to fix the back yard (clear the woods some, build a patio/deck, build a storage shed, etc). And recently, the big nag in the back of my mind has been getting the nursery set up. Even though the little bugger is going to be in our room for the first few months and it’s not like Platypus is even going to care if we get around to painting the walls. Buddy has the entire nursery planned out in his head and on graph paper. But I need concrete plans so I make lists. What’s the first step? What next? And after that? Have you ever built cabinets before? No? Well, I have total faith in you. (He’s taking a cabinet-building class the end of this month which just sounds awesome and I wish I could take it with him.)
The office is now nearly empty except for the litter box. (If you were planning on using our guest room when you come to visit, it is currently packed with the office.) We have spent the last week of his block leave purging like crazy. Usually, we go through a purge period when prepping for a move since that happens every 3 years or less. We have been in this house for 5 1/2 years now. We have accumulated a lot of stuff. And since space is becoming more of a premium, we’re deciding that maybe I don’t need all these sketch books from 7th grade. And it’s about time we got those watercolor post cards I got in Korea framed. And while we’re at it, the big wedding collage has been sitting on cardboard for 4 years. And this box is still sealed with packing tape from the last move.
Actually, we’re entering into year 2 of the GREAT PURGE. We just have a much more pressing motivator than we’ve had in a while.
Now the only thing we really have to watch out for is the “while we’re at it” mentality. Since we’re ripping out the old closet and putting in built-ins, we might as well put up display cabinets for the Legos and a kitty highway around the ceiling while we’re at it. Since we’re doing some demo, why don’t we replace the vanities in the half-bath and guest bath while we’re at it? Maybe we should go ahead and rip up this sh*tty carpet and put down hardwood. You know, while we’re at it. Let’s fix all the little annoying things about the house that we’ve been putting off WHILE WE’RE AT IT. Oh, gawd, someone hide the sledge hammer from me. We only have 10 weeks.
WE ONLY HAVE 10 WEEKS. If that.
Only 2 1/2 more months to become a grown-up for real.