I think I popped.
Saying “I popped” in pregnancy is nothing like saying “I cracked” in a workout. When you crack in a workout, you reach that breaking point where another 25 yards will completely push you over the edge and someone will need to get the shepherd’s hook out for rescue. When you pop in pregnancy, it is the point at which your uterus begins its outward migration to announce to the world that you are undeniably, 100 percent going to give birth at some time in the near feature.
I like cracking. It is the pleasure of pain. But popping? Not so good. It is the agony of pregnancy. Of course, it is totally normal but it is the beginning of the end. It is the reminder that your journey into extreme discomfort is about to begin. The memo that says “your days of wearing button pants are very limited."
Extra emphasis on very.
Somewhere before entering week 20 I started feeling it – pregnant. Uncomfortable, awkward and questioning my ability to make it through the next 5 months. I keep thinking to myself I will only get bigger, I will only feel more uncomfortable, if this is how I feel now how will I feel in another 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 4 months?
Most days I quietly accept the bloated, stuffed feeling in my body because it has a purpose and because it is only temporary but still there days when I just want to scream it all out. I feel heavy. I feel awkward. I don’t feel like me. I looked at a picture of myself from the summer – and I thought to myself – oh my god that is how I used to look. And it’s not that I want to look that way again – I just want to feel that way – “normal”.
This morning I woke up and I wanted to run. I had a small window of time before an appointment and knew if I didn’t get my run in early I would be faced with running in the late afternoon. Late afternoon runs are sluggish and unfulfilling. It’s almost better to not even try to run at all. So, I had to try to run. It was early morning or never.
I started out by walking...for 10 minutes and then decided to reassess the situation. Then I started to run. The first few minutes felt off. I was slow – which right now is slower than slow – and by 10 minutes into it I had to pee. Seriously? Ten minutes later, I had to pee - AGAIN. HOW is that even possible?
I was listening to something on the radio this weekend about a man who took up running. He said the hardest part is just getting started – taking those first few steps, making the commitment. Once you are started, you almost can’t help but keep the momentum going. The next thing you know, you’re doing an entire marathon.
I thought to myself how relevant that was to pregnancy. Getting started is the hardest part. To get out there and know that no matter what you will do – it won’t feel “great” like it used to, you’ll be slow, you’ll have to stop every 10 minutes for the bathroom. It’s hard to make the commitment. But once in motion, it is much easier to keep the momentum going. So I found myself at 20 minutes, at 25, then kept bargaining with myself to do 5 minutes more. Before I knew it, I was at 35 minutes telling myself I could go one more mile. Then another. Then….
I finished the run at 6 miles. It felt like a "long" run. And as I was walking for a cool down, I laughed to myself: since when did 6 miles become my marathon? I used to rip this off at an easy pace over 10 minutes faster. But pregnancy changes things. So many things. Forget what it does to your life afterwards – how about what it does to your body and mind in the 40 weeks leading up to that point? You live as a different person. You try on a different body. It's as if your mind stays the same but your body doesn’t match it or keep up any more.
Now that I'm approaching the halfway point, I find myself both excited about the next 5 months but fearful. There is so much I still need to know. 5 months sounds like a long time but then again, the first 5 months went very quickly. Will I be ready? Can you ever be ready for something like this? Does it make sense to even try to get ready? There are questions I have. There are things I want to know. Will that picture from the summer ever be me again? Will I ever run with ease again?
The other night, I went out to eat with two friends. Both had children. After dinner, I had questions. Questions about the things you don’t read in a book. The things I know that women wonder but perhaps are too scared to talk about. There is so much information about pregnancy and getting through labor but what about after that? What happens?
After the birth, does it hurt to pee?
Depends on how badly you tear.
How bad can you tear?
You can tear peeper to pooper. But they give you stitches.
Does it hurt to poop?
They send you home with a spray bottle and some Dulcolax.
(I’m trying to imagine what you do with a spray bottle and a bottle of Dulcolax when….)
So you don’t have to wipe yourself.
Like a spray bottle bidet?
Something like that.
What about...you know...?
Don’t even try it at 6 weeks.
My friend quietly shook her head no.
How is nursing?
Being engorged really hurts, especially in the middle of the night.
Sigh. I think about all of it. Will I have the energy for all of it - taking care of all of this for me and another person?
A few nights later, we were visiting friends up north. Their two young children running around with that frenetic show-off energy that children get when new guests are at the house. When finally the kids were in the bed and the house was quiet, we sat down for dinner. They explained that the time goes fast. When you have kids it seems like just yesterday they were born and now they are 3 or 5 or 20…the time passes quicker than you can imagine and the end result is better than you can ever have thought. No, your life doesn’t go back to being the same but it gets better. In a different way. They told me that routine would be my friend. Early bedtimes are a must. To never say no to help. And to ignore 99 percent of what other people say.
There’s a lot of information, emotions, questions and thoughts when you are pregnant. 5 months from now seems almost impossible. Taking care of myself with a spray bottle and stitches while also trying to meet the needs of this little person - how? Lack of sleep. Finding time to take a shower. But like anything big that you take on, the hardest part is taking the first step, to just get started. I am convinced that once I get going, it’s just a matter of keeping the momentum going. The object in motion stays in motion. That object will have to be me.
I was working at the computer the other day when I paused to stretch my upper back. Pregnancy discomfort #9498284: sore back. As I reached my right arm across my body, I felt something.
Could it be…?
I asked my friend what it felt like when the baby kicked. I’ve felt some strange flutters and pains but mostly it is round ligament pain from a stretching uterus or pregnancy gas. These are the joys of pregnancy. She explained that the first kicks feel like a “plip” and then a bunch of flutters, like bubbles popping.
You’ll know it when you feel it.
While stretching, I felt exactly what she said: a little “plip” against my lower right abdomen and several flutters like bubbles floating to pop. There's a little person in there, I thought to myself. He's about the size of a small melon right now and he's antsy. Me too, kid. Me too.
I ran downstairs to the basement to find Chris.
____ just kicked me.
Chris ran up to my stomach and put his hand there. Of course, from the outside you cannot feel anything but he said to me that in no time ____ would be kicking my entire stomach in different directions. We both smiled.
In no time. He is right. In no time this will be over. I will be back to normal and feel like “me” again. In no time, life will change but it will be a good change. Change is good, change is inevitable. You just have to get started. Once started, you can’t help but stay in motion. As someone once told me in cycling, momentum is a good thing.