During my pregnancy, I remember telling friends how epic pregnancy was. My whole world had shifted. I didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt like someone totally different. It wasn’t the physical symptoms that were so unexpected. In fact, I remember thinking that being pregnant felt like how I imagined being pregnant would feel. It was the emotional and mental changes that shook me. I was constantly aware of how monumental this task was. To build a human being. Not only any human being but one that I love so so much…Ginny!
Daniel can attest to how unlike myself I was. I would cry at almost anything. I would get frustrated when I cried because it threw off the cool, level-headedness that I convinced myself I sported for years. I was always so amazed at what was happening inside me, how she was moving and growing and listening to us. Anytime we were sitting on the couch, I had my shirt up and was feeling and watching for movement. I was never not impressed by it.
I was always thinking about it. Thinking about being pregnant, thinking about being a mom, thinking about what else I could do to prepare. Going out and about made me even more aware. People would stare at me and smile. People would tell me congratulations and ask how far along I was.
The experience blew my mind. It was epic. It was all consuming.
That’s why it baffles me how everyone acts like it’s so normal. I see these families with multiple kids just walking around, acting like it’s no big deal. You created life!! How is that so normal? But it is normal. People do it everyday. Most people have kids. A large portion of the population has experienced this. It is so crazy! How did I know so little about it?!
Similar to grief, there was so much more to pregnancy than I knew. This is a common life experience, yet you can never truly understand it unless you go through it. But how are people not making a bigger deal out of it?
I went from spending nearly every minute thinking about how pregnant I was to spending nearly every minute thinking about how unpregnant I was. I was amazed at how quickly I physically went back to normal. It was only a few days after birth before I realized, “Wow I haven’t been this physically comfortable in a long time”, “Wow I can climb the stairs without getting out of breath”, “Wow I slept through the night for the first time in months.” Our bodies are incredible.
I feared going into public and being asked how far along I was. To prevent this, I wore a postpartum waist trainer, girdle-type thing I found at Target. It helped flatten my stomach so hopefully I could avoid those questions. Thankfully it worked.
Even though my belly wasn’t making me self-conscious in public, my grief was. It felt like I was walking around with something on my face. Surely I’m acting weird. I don’t feel normal. I wished we still lived in a time when people wear all black or an armband to signify their mourning. That way people will know why I’m acting weird. Am I acting weird? I would get offended when store clerks would smile and say, “Hello, how are you?” How am I?! How could you even ask that?! Can’t you see I am in intense pain?!! But I would politely smile back and say, “I’m fine. How are you?” I hated myself every time I did. How could I act like everything is normal?
In the first few weeks after our loss, I would panic every time I saw a pregnant woman. I wanted to run up to her, grab her, and say, “Get the baby out now!!” I knew it was irrational. The baby is better off in the womb until the due date, but I couldn’t help but want to prevent what happened to Ginny from happening to anybody else. Since then I no longer panic, but I do seem to see pregnant women everywhere. Look at her over there just chatting…like everything is normal.
Being a parent seems evasive to me. I know it is much more so for people who struggle with infertility and are unable to get pregnant at all. For me, it seems holding my own child stays at an arm’s reach. Even after nearly 8 months of carrying my baby in my belly, it is still at an arm’s reach. Sitting here writing this, I see another pregnant woman. I’m sure she will be holding her living baby in a matter of weeks. Perfectly expected, perfectly normal. Am I missing something?