Wednesday, January 16, 2013

8th Deadly Sin: Pregpugnance

PREGPUGNANCE: I just cooked up that little word up for you this fine morning, gluten free folks. I can do that. I was an English major undergrad, and watch copious amounts of Top Chef.

It's my word for hating pregnancy. Capital sin #8.

Forgive me uteri of the world, for I have sinned. Man, and I'm only Catholic through osmosis...that guilt stuff has some strong brew.

It's taken me 3 pregnancies to admit my feelings this vocally. The moment I put the words out to the universe "I hate being pregnant" during a moment I was attempting to meditate, I immediately realized:
  1. I'm not good at meditating,
  2. If I were a millionaire, I would consider surrogacy, and
  3. I could be perceived as an awful person. 
My intent is not to come off as "Tome Cruisian" (ie, glib), ungrateful, or attempt one of those opportunities to make you feel obligated to stroke my ego and tell me how amazing I look and how well suited I am for this Herculean task. *Note, I am refusing to post any belly pictures for that said reason.

My intent is to be honest and admit that I do not enjoy being pregnant nearly as much as what I think society would like, or what I thought I would feel before 2007.

Important time out:

With that being said, I know there are far too many couples who are saddled with infertility and struggle daily with becoming and sustaining pregnancy. I know there are hundreds of thousands of women who could read this and opine, "I would give anything to dislike pregnancy." I have witnessed acquaintance, close friends, and family all confront the demons of infertility, and although cannot claim to "get it," hope my admissions do not indicate any element of insensitivity to the realities that others face. For all of you struggling and experiencing pangs of sadness as you hear of each new pregnancy from friends/family, please know my heart aches for you.

M'kay, time in:

I liken my dissatisfaction to when someone complains that their 6-range Viking stove keeps breaking down. You know, the one in the main kitchen that the personal chef uses. Or when a mother-friend agonizes on Facebook that her notoriously amazing sleeping 5 month-old woke up 2 times at night as I am re-concealing the bags under my eyes from my 3-year old barrel rolling off of his bed in a middle of the night, asserting that he is a Montessorian sleeper. (Liberty taken on that term.) Let's not forget about my 4-year-old who still gest up by 6:20am every.single.day.

Perspective.

I recently read this quote:

Saying someone can't be upset because they don't have it the worst is like saying someone can't be happy because they don't have it the best.

And by read, I mean viewed somewhere on the interwebs (dollar to doughnut it was Pinterest).
And by quote, I mean a butchered paraphrase because ask anyone in my family and they will tell you
the only reliable things I can recite are The Lord's Prayer and Inigo Montoyoa's famous line from The Princess Bride.

Listen. I love the idea of pregnancy. I love all the nuances and the stories. Although I am not quite a free birther at heart, I have always seen myself as that empowered woman who would name her ovaries "woman" and "warrior" and take pregnancy by the fallopian tubes and *nail*it. I ate up Ina May's Guide to Childbirth like a freaking primal postpartum woman gnawing on her placenta. (Bee tee dubs...is placental consumption on the continuum of cannibalism? Also, if it were easy and cheap to encapsulate mine, I'm not gonna lie--I'd do it!) I even have a picture of Klimt's "Hope I" in our master bedroom that Eric got for me one Christmas early in our relationship.

I think his grandmother just about had a heart attack that I wanted a print of naked woman with her pubic hair out for display.

I was pretty certain that I could mimic Hope's visage in my future pregnancies. Flower headdresses and creep-tastic demons not included. There was even a time in nursing school I talked to the admissions department about switching from women's health to full on certified nurse midwifery.

Then I got pregnant.

2007-2008: After round 1, I wasn't so sure I liked the whole pregnancy gig, but also felt what I experienced was an anomaly.

I started with 20 weeks of the absolute worst morning sickness.
And then hypertension.
And then "suspect" IUGR.
And then unexpected delivery at 33 weeks. (What up pitocin no epidural? Yeah, not so fun...)
And then the NICU and feeding problems.

In retrospect, I'm not sure I really ever experienced that pregnancy without worry or anxiety. There was no feeling empowered, I just felt betrayed and bewildered by my body.

2009-2010: Round 2 was better, but I entered the experience with hesitation. Morning sickness wasn't nearly as bad, but I had a few hospitalizations and scares and delivered early again. I still felt betrayed and bewildered by my body. And as I have said, ad nauseum, the scare and anxiety surrounding Eric's cancer diagnosis made both the end of my 2nd pregnancy (when he found the lump/mass/growth/canker in his mouth), and the first 6-12 months after delivery a huge blurr.

Round 3 has also gotten better in terms of anxiety and fear, and I have had almost no morning sickness. Plus, I have an overwhelming sense of peace in that I will last longer than 35 weeks. (And that my husband is not going to die.) At this point, I have avoided all premature trips to L&D, have great cervical lengths, and my contractions are just irregular enough to keep me from bedrest. Plug: I highly recommend weekly progesterone shots. Throw in our new minivan and sounds like I am living the dream, no?

With the reduced worry and anxiety, and this being the third time my uterus has gone on a bender, I think I am not only feeling the physical discomfort more, but also have the brain space to process it more regularly.

Guess what...after about 13 weeks, I've been on a steady decline of feeling "good."

I'm uncomfortable all.of.the.time. I feel like my ass is a removable lego piece that is in a time zone behind me. My belly button doesn't just pop at 20 weeks, but I can feel and now see my intestines herniate out of a little slit in the area. My pubic bone throbs whenever I try to do some light walking for fitness (how dare I get my heart pumping?), or God forbid--get out of bed. In fact, I recently had to ask Eric to hoist me up from the bed one morning because I thought my pubic bone was shattered.

At 26 weeks +, I am 7lbs shy of where I was delivering my last child at 35 weeks 5 days. (oink.)

I don't feel like myself.
I don't recognize myself.
I feel swollen and unattractive and not "fit."
I spend many nights feeling like I can't breathe because my lungs are collapsed.
I have diagnosed myself with pubic shattering disorder.
I dread book time at night and the boys jockeying over position on my ever disappearing lap. (ouch.)
I selfishly worry that once I have 3 children earth side I won't have any time for myself and my health and will never run or exercise again.

More immediately, I am terrified of the idea of passing a baby over 6lbs out of my hoo ha. (Never had the pleasure.) I had damage the first 2 times, and imagine this time will be no different. And the OB told me, "even though each time you tend to have faster labors, for you if you go longer and the baby is bigger, it may take longer." Listen, if you push a baby out in like an hour the first time, and then exactly 10 minutes the second time, you can't even consider 11 minutes or you start inquiring about being put under general anesthesia upon hospital admit.

What strikes me most, is that I dread people's comments about my pregnancy. First, I want to avoid any more "your face is fatter" remarks, and second, any time someone makes a comment to me, I immediately withdraw and change the subject. I even got upset when my 3-year-old told me "Mommy, you have a big belly and bottom!" (What does he know? Kid has a 6-pack at 3.)

I am trying to reconcile the fact that this last time when I feel the pressure to savor every moment, I lose sight of the miracle and instead focus on the pain. And that, sadly, the combination of having many more responsibilities now than I did during my first two pregnancies, and toeing the edge of denial that I am, actually, pregnant, I am feeling disconnected to this baby. (Even amidst INSANE uterine gymnastics. Child gonna be a trapeze artist!)

I read a post recently on one of my favorite mom blogs, merelymothers, and felt some pangs of guilt and same. I am one of those women who is lamenting over my "blossoming shape". (I just don't do it in front of a mirror, lest it shatters. That's 7 years bad luck!) I want the power and miracle of gestation to override physical and emotional discomfort. I want to use the word "I've come to terms with my changing body" and actually mean it. But during this last rodeo, I'm finding myself with the double D's (not boobs...although, they are getting there): discomfort and dissatisfaction.

You know, Dr Phil always says you can't fix a problem you don't acknowledge...er, something like that (refer to my quoting issues above).

So there. I've acknowledged it. I do not like pregnancy. Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse.

(Ali, stop the quoting.)

4 comments:

  1. I detest pregnancy. I try to be very grateful because I know there are so many ppl out there who have such a hard time getting to this point. But, that being said. I stay miserable pregnant, at first I am sick as a dog and then at the end I am uncomfortable with irregular contractions for months leading up to labor. l have pushed out 2 big babies and the first destroyed me and the second did next to no damage so hopefully that if you make it full term you will be in good shape since your bits have practice :)

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  2. It is all relative, and we are each individual. While I was someone who embraced all the discomfort and loved being pregnant, I admire your courage in expressing how much you dislike pregnancy. It is your experience, and you have a right to your feelings about it. Do try to remind yourself (I am a strong proponent of self-talk as you know) that it is all temporary - the big bottom and belly, the PSD ("pubic shattering disorder"), the grumps, the fuller face, etc. It-will-pass. You will have time in your life to spend keeping yourself fit and sane, although it won't be for awhile with three little ones. Remind yourself that the time-will-come. Third time around there isn't as much time to devote to focusing on the baby in utero. I encourage you to, when you think of it, give your belly pats and talk to that baby just as you are talking to yourself - takes little time and is easier than meditating. You're #3. It's a pretty special part of the family! Remember, too, every moment you are not enjoying being pregnant is a moment toward having an on-time delivery and healthy baby!

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  3. This is so hilariously written (is hilariously a word?). "Right on" to speaking your mind, even if others don't agree (though I have to say, I very much appreciate your time out disclaimer to those who would give anything to hate being pregnant -- I was one of those women once upon a time and I think it very much colored/colors my own experience while pregnant).

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  4. Thanks for the shout out! I just had my second child last week, and definitely understand what you're saying. The first time I was pregnant, I tried to hide it for as long as I could, with baggy shirts and big sweaters. I refused to acknowledge what my body was going through, and pretended it wasn't happening. I made it mostly back to my pre-pregnancy size, but still some things were forever changed. When I look at clothes I wore in my twenties, when I spent most of the time criticizing my own body, (so ironic, I know) I know I'll never be that small again. And that pains me a little. This pregnancy, I had a different attitude. I wore tighter maternity clothes, gave myself a break, and tried to enjoy the ride. And you know what, it was physically SO much easier. Interesting. When I finally let go and allowed myself to enjoy it, it actually wasn't so bad. And now, on the post partum ride, I'm trying to embrace that same attitude. Trying. Trying.

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