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Don’t let the smiles in those photos fool you, being pregnant sucks! And to anyone who says otherwise, please just stop talking, you’re making the rest of us look like whiny, complaining weaklings.

I hit the 35-week pregnant mark on Monday, and every time someone asks me when I’m due, I say “in a couple weeks.” Ah, if only proclaiming that he was coming in a couple weeks translated into an earlier due date; it’s wishful (delusional) thinking at its finest.

While my aches and pains aren’t unique to me, I certainly feel somewhat isolated when I hear how much other women LOVE being pregnant. “I love feeling the baby move, knowing that I’m carrying this life inside me,” I hear many women say. I want to counter with, “I love when the baby decides to stop moving for a moment; my internal organs need a break from the constant beating.” Another one I hear a lot is, “I don’t really feel all that different; I’m just so excited to be a mom I guess I don’t mind the minor discomforts.” Don’t get me wrong; I am looking forward to meeting baby H, but at this moment it has as much to do with wanting to get rid of the nausea, fatigue, stomach pain and pressure, back and leg pain, and constant need to pee as it does with holding him in my arms. Does that make me a bad mother? Am I the only one who yearns for her pre-pregnancy body to come back so she can finally feel “normal” again?

Better yet, am I the only one who thinks midnight feedings and a crying baby are going to be a breeze compared to the discomforts of pregnancy? On second thought, don’t answer that, I’m afraid of what I might hear.

Like most trying life situations, at least I can say I’ll be walking away from this one with some valuable life lessons:

1) My body has limitations

Silly me, I used to think I was invincible. I believed I could do anything if I tried hard enough: overcome any obstacle, become stronger, faster, work harder, push past my limits, because heck, I don’t have limits. I was a walking, talking Nike ad on steroids. But when I traded in my workout attire and running shoes for maternity jeans and nursing bras, it was time for a reality check. Sometimes, despite my wishing and willing my body to do one thing, it has its own agenda for the day and will not cooperate. No amount of mind over matter will get me off the couch and to the gym when sharp pains are shooting down my back and legs. No amount of determination and will power will get me to do the laundry or clean the apartment after a sleepless night and a mid-morning bought of nausea. Sometimes, I am limited. Sometimes I have to accept that instead of trying to make my body cooperate with me; I need to cooperate with my body. But that doesn’t make me weak.

2) Things don’t always have to go according to plan

When I was younger, I was fairly inflexible. I believed rules were meant to be followed, schedules adhered to, and organizational systems maintained. Tell me something was going to happen, be it a trip to the dentist or a trip to Disney World, and if it didn’t happen, I became distressed. Yes, I was that kid. And that kid’s attitude still has a way of popping up from time to time in this adult’s life. What can I say, I like when plans are made well in advance, I know what to expect, and I can adjust accordingly. Becoming pregnant has set my world off balance a little. In my mind I planned to get pregnant in July (the 6 month mark past when we intended to start trying) and have the baby in March. By the start of the third trimester I’d be an established free-lance writer with a decked out nursery, and all my little baby booties in a row. At 8 months pregnant I do not yet own a single pair of baby booties. Our nursery is strewn with shower gifts and little outfits waiting to be washed, and my career as a freelance writer has failed to launch (for now). Despite all this, ready or not, baby H will be here in July. I’m guessing like his arrival, most things surrounding our son will not happen on a set schedule, and I’m learning that I can adjust.

3) Despite its limitations, the human body can do some pretty miraculous things

Pregnancy is a miracle in itself. Me becoming pregnant is beyond miraculous. To have my body bounce back after years of neglect still astounds me. To follow the elaborate string of events that must occur for two single cells to turn into a tiny person in just nine months is beyond my understanding. If I were a religious person, it would be easy to see God’s hands at work.  It is witnessing this phenomenon first hand that teaches me that while I do have to respect my limits, those limits are often a little higher than I may think upon first glance.

4) Becoming an adult isn’t about hitting some arbitrary milestone

Growing up I kept waiting for that magical moment when I would transform from a pimple-covered, pigtail wearing, lunch box toting little kid to a sophisticated adult. When I hit a certain age, say 16 with license in hand or 18 when high school ended and college was on the horizon, then certainly I’d be a grown up. Or perhaps when I land that first “big kid” job, buy a house, get married, or, like my mom always told me, become a parent, then I’m an adult. Well at 27 years old with many milestones under my belt including a baby on the way, I’ve come to realize becoming an adult has more to do with an attitude than the number of candles on a cake. It comes from the wisdom gained through life experiences and the new perspectives those experiences offer.

5) Putting someone else’s needs ahead of my own does not mean forgetting entirely about my own needs too

Raise your hand if you’ve even been on a plane. Now raise your hand if you actually pay attention to the preflight announcements. Let me refresh your memory. If the plane cabin looses oxygen all adults are instructed to first place the oxygen mask over their own nose and mouth before assisting young children. There is an important life lesson to be learned here. I bet you didn’t realize there was free advice that went along with those peanuts. How many times have you heard a parent say, “I have no time for myself anymore?” What they’re really saying is “I forgot that I am a person too, and I have needs.” It’s common to think that having a child means your desires and dreams will be relegated to the back burner, but that doesn’t have to be the case. One of the best things you can do for your child is to be a present parent, to be a parent that has the energy and desire to give all of her attention and love to the baby in the moment. This is a nearly impossible task when you forget your own needs and become drained. To meet your child’s needs it is essential to also take into account your own; so put on your oxygen mask.

6) I have an amazing husband, and I will be a much better mother because of him.

My husband is a pretty amazing man, but you might not know it just looking at him. You see, his greatness doesn’t lie in a flashy, ostentatious life or a long list of personal accomplishments (although his wall of degrees is quite impressive). His greatness is a subtle and quiet kind that sneaks up on me when I least expect it. I find in trying moments, when I am at my breaking point, my husband steps up and offers the strength and support I couldn’t muster. In areas where I fall short, he excels. It is the moment that I am ready to quit, to give up and throw my hands in the air in frustration that he calmly reminds me that I can persevere, whether it’s of my own accord or he has to carry me. As an individual I may not be up for the task of parenthood, but I’m confident that with him as my partner I can handle anything. And if our son turns out anything like his father…then I will consider myself a very lucky woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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