Next week I’ll be 10 weeks pregnant. Soon it’ll be time to tell our friends. We’ll start shopping, just a little bit, and thinking about baby names, and I’ll get out the box of maternity clothes I shoved onto the top shelf of my closet a couple years ago.
A few weeks after I start wearing those maternity clothes, I’ll begin to feel the kicks below them, and I’ll begin settle into the reality that a baby is coming.
When the second line appeared on that pregnancy test stick, I was both overjoyed and reserved in my excitement. There wasn’t surprise as much as quiet satisfaction that my time, maybe, had come, and a silent prayer that this time it would last.
Before the second line there was a year of trying, with an ectopic pregnancy in the middle. There were ovulation predictor kits and trips to the doctor. It wasn’t easy like it was with my son, and the months between when I wanted to be pregnant and when I became pregnant were hard. Despite my desire to be patient and relaxed and calm, I found myself charting my temperature and buying early pregnancy tests and making promises to myself, every month that if I was pregnant, I would feel nothing but gratitude for every ache and stretch mark and contraction.
Nearly as soon as I became aware of my pregnancy this time I got sick. The nausea started in the morning and stretched itself throughout the day. I threw up every day for a month and still feel sea sick throughout the day most days.
With my son, I was sick for almost an afternoon, just long enough to be grateful that morning sickness wasn’t my thing. As I threw up each morning this time my little boy ran into the bathroom and patted my back. “I sorry mommy, feel better mommy,” he murmured. I vowed to remain grateful for the sickness as it meant my baby was growing.
There was cramping at the beginning, too. Attune to every twinge, I worried with each tightening in my belly that the baby was already gone but each time I called my doctor I was told that it was normal to experience cramping; that unless I was bleeding it was probably fine. So I decided to relax and reaffirmed the promise I’d made to myself to find gratitude in the aches and pains. And each time I saw the heartbeat, fast and fluttery, I calmed.
The exhaustion came more slowly but more forcefully than the nausea. At first I began to crave afternoon naps. Then my bedtime began inching earlier and earlier. Then I could barely keep my eyes open through the workday. And then my husband found out he would be working out of town Monday-Friday for a month and I worried about how I would care for my toddler. During that month, weeks five through nine, I did nothing but work, pick up my son, and struggle through dinner before putting us both down for an insanely early bedtime.
Though I had vowed to remain grateful, the exhaustion made it difficult. I was frustrated about my inability to get anything done and wondered when it would pass. When would I feel like myself again? I walked on the treadmill at work to stay awake but my productivity suffered. I normally work with a deep focus during my office hours to be sure my time away from my son is as well-used possible, but each day I left with half of my to-do list unchecked.
I stopped cooking, I stopped cleaning, and I stopped working at night as the precious few hours after my son’s bedtime that I usually use to get things done disappeared to exhaustion. I whined and moaned to my husband. I complained to my mother. I wanted desperately to feel energetic again.
I’m still sick and I’m still tired but now, as I begin to feel the uncertainty and the nausea and the exhaustion of the first trimester leaving my body, I’m encouraged by the cautious promise of a baby. And I can appreciate how temporary it all really is.
As a parent, I should know by now that things pass as quickly as they come and that no stage is permanent but, in the moment – the moment of feeling so utterly unlike yourself – it can be hard to remember that it won’t last.
When (I’m saying “if” less and less as the weeks pass) my little one is born, I’ll be the mother of two and I’m sure my world will shrink again. Just as it was in the first few weeks of my son’s life, everything will be about healing and making sure there is milk and learning about the person we’ll be raising. This time it will also probably be about managing the expectations of a toddler and retaining as much normalcy as possible in his earthquake-shaken world.
And I’ll be tired. Exhausted. Unable to do anything but the most basic of tasks. And I’ll be okay with that because it will, after all, be temporary.