It’s been a while. I haven’t blogged in what feels like an eternity (again) but I guess Life has a way of taking over, and this time it is not a euphemism, LIFE has indeed taken over; Tom and I are expecting our first child. A little girl.
This is a new journey we’ve embraced from the start and as time goes we are more and more excited and impatient to meet our little pancake, even though I don’t think we can really prepare ourselves for what is to come.
Pregnancy is one of those life events that I found to be quite ambivalent. Especially for the mother to be. On one hand, I was in awe as to what was about to happen. How this body of mine, with its strength and flaws were going to create a Life. I felt proud and amazed at the same time. But on the other hand, I also felt extremely vulnerable and unable to have real control over my anything.
In fact, entering pregnancy altogether and feeling confident about it wasn’t something that I felt comfortable with instantly.
For the first trimester and a big chunk of the second trimester, I wasn’t feeling pregnant. In part because my symptoms weren’t so bad. My “morning sickness” during the first trimester was more like an “evening sickness” and it only occurred once or twice in the evening, after dinner. I was able to carry on as usual during the day, with the exception of being unable to craft or draw in the evening which added to the frustration and feeling of being out of control.
But primarily because I started showing pretty late, around 19 weeks, with the tiniest bump.
I remember feeling a bit weird about it and out of place with myself as if something was wrong with me for not being bigger or having more pregnancy symptoms. Despite being someone who had never fantasized about motherhood or pregnancy, I realized that, unbeknownst to me, I was, in fact, holding on to a romanticised ideal of what I wanted to look like as a pregnant woman. I felt frustrated and almost ashamed of myself when I didn’t look it.
Plus it did not help when other women would tell me “oh wow, you’re so tiny! Look how big I was at your stage – neighbour, then proceed to scroll through all her big belly pregnancy pictures on her phone to show me– Or when I’d see other pregnant women who were due just two months before me and looked overwhelmingly pregnant like one is supposed to.
At 19 weeks and 1 day
Seeing, or not seeing the changes in my body, somehow got translated in my head as a representation of my inadequacy to be a mother. As if I wasn’t fit as a mother to be and wouldn’t be able to claim the prestige and respect that comes with carrying a child for 9 months in utter discomfort; because so far my pregnancy ride had been an easy one.
I started to loathe the Pinterest images telling women how to have a “belly only” pregnancy. How to remain fit and not “whale up”. How to keep fit with a workout that promised to pack the weight only in the right place.
Whereas, all I wanted was to LOOK “really” pregnant!
It’s only after visiting my family in France one weekend, and being reassured by my mother that she was barely a shower too -and she bared 4 healthy children- that I finally put those concerns to rest. My own mother. My source of wisdom, strength, and reassurance, was there to comfort me and put me to ease.
I didn’t need to look pregnant. I already was pregnant.
In retrospect, I now realize that, because I was in unknown territories and wasn’t in control of my body anymore, projecting this idealized image of THE pregnant woman was a way for me to obtain some form of regency over what was happening.
I’ve learned to not pay too much attention to what I should look like week by week. I’ve learned to trust my journey and trust my baby; to listen to her and how she responds to us and our environment. But also to listen to my own body, yes it may not look like the Venus of Willendorf and yes part of me still hope that maybe by the end of my pregnancy I will get significantly bigger, but I’m ok with the fact that I may not, and that doesn’t take away from what is really happening. We are so blessed to welcome this little soul into our lives already.
At 21 weeks and 2 days
Yesterday, I entered my 26th week of gestation, and now that I’m a little over halfway, and no longer worried about my appearance, I feel as if our baby girl or Toad -the nickname we gave to my growing belly- and I have settled into our own little pattern and rituals to communicate. I have a tiny bump, yes but I also have the most feisty and active little cupcake baking inside me.
I know when Toad feels uncomfortable when I’m laying in bed on the wrong side or if my belly isn’t supported by extra cushions. Usually, turnarounds and kicks occur at a frenetic pace to let me know it’s time to switch and get ourselves cozy.
She also seems to disapprove of some type of music, especially Spotify adds when they interrupt some of my, well, OUR favourite tracks.
Hot showers are one of our favourite bonding time too. I can’t quite explain the feeling I get when I sense that Toad is getting comfortable and relaxed, as my body and belly is wrapped up in the ripples of warm water falling down from the shower head. I feel her gentle push -not a kick- that resembles the weight of a kitten’s head, who’s fallen asleep on your lap and whose head has gotten too heavy for its size.
Obviously, Tom and I are living the pregnancy in different ways. There’s a part of him that feels disconnected to what is going on, while I am extremely privileged to be our daughter’s first home and to have this unspoken bond with our daughter.
However, it also appears that Toad as picked up on our own patterns and daily routine, and she seems to know when Daddy is around and I’m pretty sure she recognizes his voice.
Whenever we are cuddling up on the sofa while watching a movie, she’ll start kicking a lot as if knowingly aware that her dad is close and wants some attention from him. She only seems to settle down once Tom has spoken to her through the womb.
He always takes the time to ask her how she feels; how her day has been up in there and telling her all about our day, all the while showering her with kisses and I love you’s.
All in all what I’ve learned so far is that no pregnancy is the same and there is no point torturing yourself thinking something is wrong with you or your child if you don’t look or feel the part. If from a medical perspective everything is fine with you and your baby then enjoy your journey and embrace the uniqueness of it. Relish the wonders of what your body is capable of doing no matter what it looks like, and listen to it. Don’t push it to where it doesn’t need to go but also allow it to do is ting and learn to trust yourself along the way.