Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Mid-Pregnancy Bump

It’s been about a month since I wrote about pregnancy being overrated, but I think I’m starting to understand how “they” get you into this racket and convince you to come back.

You know how formerly pregnant women talk about how the pain of labor and giving birth isn’t something they remember? And there’s evidence that nature designed it that way to make sure we’d be up for a round two or three? Well, I’m wondering if what formerly pregnant women remember when they wax poetic about those special nine-and-a-half-or-so months is what I’m going to call the mid-pregnancy bump (ha!).

Now I imagine some women have wonderful, no-symptoms-or-uncomfortableness-ever pregnancies with energy from day 1 to day... too early for math. I imagine some women feel completely connected to the little dot on the ultrasound screen from the moment they see that BFP pink line. I imagine those women are being 100 percent honest when they tell you that they loved every minute of being pregnant. I was not/am not one of those women. At week 16 or so, when everyone around me was telling me I should start to feel better, I had stopped dry heaving in the shower every morning, but I still felt pretty off. Then that changed.

Pregnancy is magic, I’ve decided. There’s no science involved whatsoever. One day, you’re getting intimate with the toilet while swearing “never again,” the next you’re practically leaping through the streets in your adorable, show-off-the-bump maternity clothes announcing to the world how amazing it is to have this little person growing inside you and casually mentioning his/her sibling who is years away from even pre-production.

This--the mid-pregnancy bump--is what I imagine a lot of women look back when they tell you they loved pregnancy. Because this part, which I would say started for me around week 18 and then kicked into high brainwashed gear when we had our 20-week ultrasound, is pretty cool. Here’s why:

You look pregnant. As opposed to, you know, looking like you put on a few or 15 pounds. But you’re not so big that you’re uncomfortable. So you get to enjoy the pregnant lady perks, but you aren’t experiencing many, if any, of the downsides.

Now, I’m going to be honest here. I’m not having a cute basketball pregnancy (you know what I mean). As I told my sister, I am stomach from my boobs to my business, which is less cute and does not always immediately read as “baby bump” if you don’t know I’m pregnant. However, I have tricked myself into believing that I am adorably pregnant and feel compelled to wear clothing that shows off that area as much as possible. Blame pregnancy brain.

Your energy does return, at least sort of. I can function now without feeling like, if I do not lay down right here, right now, I am going to keel over and die and I am not exaggerating (I’m exaggerating... a little). I still want to go to bed early. I still need a serious nap after too many errands or too much excitement. I still don’t have a lot of desire to fill my weekends with social commitments. But for the most part, I feel like myself again, capable of getting shit done as well as procrastinating.

The whole part about the baby inside you starts to get real. I can honestly say that I did not feel connected to this baby early in the pregnancy. Maybe that’s not normal, but it’s my experience. While I was focused on “we’re having a baby,” the actual tiny human thing involved seemed ambiguous. I would read or hear about pregnant women who really loved their yet-to-be-born babies, and I kind of wouldn’t get it. I didn’t not love my baby, per say, but I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of connection and active... well... love.

I imagine that being visibly pregnant makes a difference, but around this time most people also start to feel the baby moving. Unfortunately, because my placenta is anterior as opposed to posterior (essentially creating an extra barrier between the baby and my stomach), I’m still just guessing as to whether or not what I’m feeling is movement, but the doctor told me it should be obvious in the next few weeks as she gets bigger and the placenta likely shifts.

But for me, it was the 20-week ultrasound that brought all of this home. Holy shit. That’s an actual baby. She has arms, legs, feet, hands, an adorable profile with a tiny nose and lips. She’s a she, and she’s our daughter. I am not ashamed to say that the approximate 20 printouts of the ultrasound the tech gave us are sitting on my bedside table, and I look through them at least two or three times a day, often pointing out her feet and hands to my husband who seems less amused by this ritual each day. My earlier ultrasound pictures... yeah, I should probably try to find those.

You know you’re only halfway there, and that’s cool. I’m excited to meet our little girl, but I’m not ready to meet our little girl. She needs a lot more time before she’s ready for the outside world, but I some more time too. We have a list of pre-baby to dos that keeps getting longer. We have classes to take, basic baby skills to learn (my husband and I are baby novices), gear to purchase. Oh, and I have to mentally wrap my head around this whole labor and birth thing (as much as possible). I’m not there yet, which is why this part of pregnancy seems so great... because I’m not ready to be not pregnant and I know it.

Yes, there are still downsides, but for me, things are going pretty good. My skin looks like shit (downgrade), but my hair looks pretty amazing (upgrade!). I’ve had to give up sleeping on my back (though I was a back and side sleeper before), but--I almost hate to write this because I don’t want to jinx myself--but I’m sleeping through the night more easily now than I was in the first trimester. I have some kinks to work out from time to time in my neck, hips and back, but I don’t have any persistent pain. So basically, I have nothing to complain about. I’m hopeful that I can hold on to the mid-pregnancy bump at least another eight weeks or so. And maybe I’ll end up being one of those women who tells you how great pregnancy is. Just remember when I tell you that, I probably can’t remember all of it.

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