Being pregnant has not brought out the best in me. Although I’m incredibly glad to be pregnant, I nevertheless find myself whining quite frequently about all the physical unpleasantness that pregnancy entails. I know I’m being a wimp. I know I could feel a lot worse. But I’m not accustomed to feeling less than perfectly healthy, and it’s not something I want to get used to.
Despite all my whining, being pregnant has taught me a few things. First off, I now have a clearer idea of how my reproductive and digestive systems work. I’m embarrassed to admit that prior to becoming pregnant I didn’t really know what my uterus and cervix were for. I’m sure I learned about this is some science class long ago, but neither seemed particularly important until now. Just in case you’ve also forgotten, the uterus is where the baby spends its time during pregnancy, and the cervix is the bottom part of the uterus, which opens up when you go into labor to let the baby out. As it turns out, the uterus expands enormously during pregnancy to accommodate the growing fetus. It gets so huge that there’s hardly any room left in your body for your intestines. The result is indigestion. Your food simply has nowhere to go. Thus, I have also learned what heartburn feels like.
I typically take my health for granted, but being pregnant has helped me appreciate how lucky I am in this regard. I hope I can remember what being pregnant feels like once I am no longer pregnant, because I think it will help me be more empathetic toward others who are feeling yucky. My heart truly goes out to anyone who suffers from health problems, especially chronic health problems, because everything is just so much harder when you don’t feel good. At least with pregnancy, the yucky feelings are guaranteed to go away after nine months.
Pregnancy has reminded me of several other things I am grateful for as well, such as easy access to effective, inexpensive birth control. If it weren’t for birth control, I’d probably have a whole brood of children by now, which would have made it awfully difficult to pursue my other interests. Of course I could have refrained from having sex for all these years, but I’m not confident that I would have had enough self-restraint to do so, and I’m certainly glad that it wasn’t necessary.
I’m also thankful for easy access to information about pregnancy and childbirth. Over the past 39 weeks, I’ve experienced a number of strange physical sensations that would have completely freaked me out if I hadn’t been able to quickly find out that they were normal. For example, when I started seeing stars a few months ago, I didn’t need to call the midwife in a panic, because a quick Google search revealed that many women occasionally see stars when they’re pregnant. More recently, I’ve been having contractions that feel like my heart and lungs are being squeezed by my ribcage, which makes it a little hard to breathe and could have been very scary. But again, a Google search assuaged my fears. If I hadn’t been able to quickly learn that other women experience the same thing without negative consequences, I probably would have felt horribly anxious and frightened, which may have actually led to something bad happening. So thank goodness for the Internet (and library books, which I’ve gotten tons of information from as well)!
It’s also tremendously heartwarming to reflect on how many people have helped us prepare for this baby’s arrival. Our friends and family have, of course, been fantastically generous and supportive, but we’ve gotten help from distant acquaintances and complete strangers as well. For example, when I posted on Facebook that I was pregnant and looking for hand-me-down baby stuff, I heard back from a guy I know from college who I haven’t seen in years, who put me in touch with a friend of his who lives here in Rochester, who gave us all kinds of baby clothes and equipment. Thanks to all the hand-me-downs and gifts people have given us, we’ve actually only spent about $250 of our own money on baby stuff, which was completely unexpected and a huge relief. I look forward to eventually passing our baby gear on to other new parents, to similarly ease their transition into parenthood.
Lastly, I appreciate that my Mom carried me for nine months. At best, it must have been uncomfortable. At worst, it might have been truly painful and miserable. What’s really cool is that she was willing to do it two more times to have my brothers, even though she knew from experience that being pregnant is no picnic. Nine months is a long time to share your body with someone else. Voluntarily doing that three times is truly an act of generosity. So thanks Mom! And if you haven’t ever thanked your mom for carrying you, you might consider doing so. Trust me, it was probably unpleasant for her.
On that cheery note, I’ll say goodbye. I suspect it will be a while before I write my next blog post, because soon I’ll have a newborn baby competing for my attention. He’ll undoubtedly win that competition, so thanks for your patience. Happy holidays to you (if it’s the holiday season where you live) and happy learning!