Thursday, May 26, 2016

Am I Your Mummy?

The strangest thing happened at the end of November 2015.

After over a year of half-hearted attempts at getting pregnant (as in, I didn't really care so didn't obsess or worry, to the point I was - in all honesty - secretly relieved that I wasn't pregnant) ... I fell pregnant. Tomorrow I will clock in at 28 weeks pregnant. In August there will be a kid. That kid will be my responsibility (shared of course with my partner in crime, hubby).

Being pregnant hasn't been what I thought it would be. Things kicked off in earnest in January with round-the-clock morning sickness. I was disillusioned at best to think it was a trifling, highly feminine and delicate illness that really wasn't that bad. I was a barely functioning zombie. When I finally found the energy to get off the couch to walk the dog, I found myself vomiting into bushes. There was a disastrous attempt at going to a gym class, as I struggled to fight against the sickness and resume normal life. Mental note - denial is not a coping mechanism for morning sickness. I could barely make it to the fridge (don't worry, I got there... And to McDonalds) to shovel more carbs into my gob to make the nausea fade away. [NOTE: I found acupuncture of great benefit during this shitty month of my life. Even my needle phobia couldn't keep me away from the joint]. [DOUBLE NOTE: Hot chips also  saved my life - "Could I have a side of fries with my fries please?" It was utterly shameful].

Disgusting. Necessary.

Then, like all the books tell you, at 12/13 weeks it all just faded away.

As a non-Earth mother type, who has not embraced this pregnancy business in the manner of those who exaltedly cup their pregnant bellies in one hand and a chia pudding in the other as she expresses her #mummybliss and #blessed - ness to the world, it has been something of a struggle.

My boobs went bananas almost immediately - sore to touch, an entire bra size larger (accompanied by a frustrating fight with a bra-fitter called Dolly in a department store change room where I fought for my right to wear a lacy, underwire, non-maternity bra for as long as I could before I I would be forcibly transitioned to loathsome, ugly maternity bras. While I won the battle, she won the war when in her parting shot she told me my breast milk wouldn't flow on account of my selfish propensity for lace and underwire - let the mummy judgment begin!).

Then there has been the agony of a stomach expanding to accommodate another being. There are days where I feel like my stomach is being torn, one tendril of muscle and skin at a time, all day long. By the afternoon, my back aches. Sleeping is uncomfortable and disturbed as my unwieldy stomach imposes strict limitations on movement and position. I can't exercise like I used to because I get puffed, I'm carrying about 7 extra kgs (so far), and my stomach just generally gets in the way. I have random pimply break-outs that make me want to hide under the bed. And then there is the insanity of an alien life force kicking, wiggling and hiccupping IN YOUR STOMACH throughout the day and night. It just doesn't seem natural to me.

You've been living where?

The weight gain and the belly have been getting to me. I can't believe I ever had fat days pre-pregnancy. I used to have a flat stomach for goodness' sake - what was I thinking?! I never realised the great joy that freedom of movement actually brought to me. It simply felt natural, obvious and my God given right as a human being to be able to run, jump, skip and dance like BeyoncĂ© in my living room. After spending much of my adult life being bombarded with the message that weight gain is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, the fact that it is happening - and it is to a large extent beyond my control - is distressing and counter-intuitive, despite logic telling me this is a natural process and not to fret. I have had to stop looking at certain Instagram feeds (mainly the ones of women who are in the same stage of pregnancy as me, are teeny tiny and still somehow doing kick boxing). I also worry about the post-natal implications for my figure: Will I ever look the same again? Will I ever physically feel the same again? Will I ever stop eating hot chips??

Then there are the mental gymnastics. The rage at knowing my career will be hampered by impending and actual motherhood (at least for a few years). The resentment and frustration that accompanies the understanding that in the partnership I have with my husband, he simply cannot share the physical burden of the first few years of child bearing, birthing and breast feeding.  The fear that something might be wrong with the child if I continue to have such negative thoughts throughout pregnancy. The guilt I feel for not enjoying pregnancy when I know so many others love it, and - worse - that others would kill to be pregnant and to have a child. And the genuine concern I feel that my ambivalence to pregnancy and motherhood will make me a selfish, dreadful parent.

Thank heavens for trained counsellors
And don't get me started on my inability to travel to far-flung, tropical destinations at a moment's due to fears for Zika virus and the fact that I can't fly internationally after 32 weeks. Having your passport essentially confiscated by someone other than law enforcement authorities is, well... criminal!

This quote in a Business Chicks article today (titled "You Absolutely, Definitely Can't Have it All") resonated with me:

They say that becoming a parent is about sacrifice and compromise – and I guess that’s what I’m getting a lesson in. I interpreted that as sacrificing nights out, sleep, weekly yoga and coffee with girlfriends … what I’m learning is that you have to sacrifice a little piece of yourself and I guess all these tears are me grieving for that part of me. I hate the word juggle, but that’s what it is – a constant compromise between family and work depending on which priority is currently on top, and I don’t think that’s ever ideal. I also feel resentment that my husband isn’t going through this; life has just become richer for him. I just need to soak up the tears and get on with it - letting go of that person who got to the office at 7.30am … and that person who watches her baby sleep. I know that I’ll come out the other side, because so many women have gone before me and I feel great comfort in that.


Logically I know that most women get their figures back; your career ambitions don't necessary stall forever; and while you have the opportunity to eat hot chips without reproach for 9 months, you should seize the moment (and add some chocolate sour cake and ice cream for good measure). So of course it's not all bad, and - like everything in life - it is not forever. But when you're in the thick of it and looking down the barrel of another 12 weeks of discomfort, and on top of that the further altered reality of parenting an infant for the next few years, it can be hard to keep that mantra front of mind.

Eventually, it will all fall into place. Or I will run away with the circus.

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