Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm having a "glass is half-empty" moment. Bear with me.

Being pregnant is a special time.

It's a time when you can feel amazingly confident in your body's ability to adapt and change in ways as old as humanity. It's a time when you can revel in your inherent ability to bring about new life, to nurture a brand new person. You can rejoice in your strength and unique gifts as a woman. You can enjoy the glow of happiness and serenity that all of that knowledge gives you, and finally understand your true inner beauty.

That is, if you're someone else.

Before I proceed, let me assure you that I am fully touched by the blessing that pregnancy is, I really am. I have dear friends who struggle with fertility issues, who would give their right arms to be in the kind of temporary discomfort in which I find myself right now. I have never been happier or more fulfilled in my life than I am right now as a mother, and the knowledge that I'm getting to experience the journey again is heartbreakingly, profoundly beautiful to me.

But as all of us know, blessings are rarely brilliant gems of purely gorgeous beauty. They can sometimes be cloaked in some pretty off-putting stuff, as a matter of fact.

I have never been one of those lucky women who loves to be pregnant, who adores her fertile body in its new rounded shapes, who sees lushness and life in her added weight and contours. I've never been one of the women who feels empowered by the experience of pregnancy, or who finds her mind at its sharpest or her strength at its peak while she's carrying her child within. That's probably because I've never been one of those women who never had morning sickness, either. In my snarkier moods, I could probably call those women some imaginative names.

Who am I? I'm one of the women who loves motherhood but finds pregnancy 10% amazing, 10% "interesting," and 80% distinctly uncomfortable. I'm one of the women who spent the first 19 weeks of her pregnancy either having just thrown up or preparing to do it again. No exaggeration. I'm one of the women who was almost crippled by bone-deep fatigue in the first and third trimesters, one of the women who, just weeks away from delivery now, finds her child's movements more painful than pleasant. (Seriously. What are those elbows and knees freaking made of, anyway?) I'm one of the unlucky women who has and continues to battle postpartum depression or anxiety, who now understands the full meaning of the compound word "heartburn," who (though previously a huge fan of food and eating) has to make herself consume some food-related item several times a day since absolutely nothing sounds appealing, who hates the fact that she's resigned to frequent mild incontinence, who cannot imagine ever being in control of her bladder again, who lays awake in bed for up to two hours in the middle of almost every night for no good reason except for the fact that her hormones tell her she should be awake and worrying about something, who regularly sweats through her pajamas and awakens hot, damp and annoyed, who can fall asleep at 10:15 p.m. and be up to pee at least four times by midnight.

I am that woman.

In other words, I'm a mom-to-be.

And when I think about it, when I really reflect on it, the only truly important word in that last sentence is "mom." That's why this isn't my first time down this path. That's why I'm not at all sure it will be my last.

Because moms? They do what they have to. Not because they're martyrs, and not because they're heros, or superhuman, or different than anyone else.

It's because there is NEVER, EVER a question of whether or not it's worth it.

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Oh, friend, how can even your "half-empty" posts leave me just that much more appreciative of the little guy that rules my roost these days and the journey that we are on together? Your writing is such a gift - YOU are such a gift. Your first four paragraphs alone are simply perfection. Thank you for this presence of yours on the web.

Michael said...

it's some 4 days later, but where this reply isn't timely, I know it's still the truth. I have two thoughts: one is Proverbs 10:22, that the blessings of the Lord bring wealth and He adds no sorrow to them. I know you understand the wealth that is parenthood, and I know you're confident in the blessing that is your new child; so in the down moments, it's helpful to keep the perspective that, while real and myriad, those feelings aren't portioned to you by God as part of some "good news/bad news" negotiation. He is all good!

My second thought is about that aphoristic glass. We are eternal beings, and need to have an eternal perspective. Half-empty, half-full...the status of the glass at any given moment isn't important, it's the knowledge that we have a faucet that can fill the glass all day, everyday, for our entire lives, for as long as we keep the valve open. If our glass is half-empty, it's because we've taken and used what we needed up to a point and only need to go back to the sink for more.

If you wanna add yogurt and mint and salt to your glass, that's your own business.

gemmit48 said...

My mantra through the baby years was always, "This too shall pass."
Now, it's all passing way too quickly! My baby is almost 6! How the heck did that happen?

Kaycie said...

Jennifer,

By now you have welcomed your sweet baby girl (according to Facebook), so.. congratulations! But the real reason for my note is that I wanted you to know how much comfort your words have given me, an expectant new mom in August. An expectant new mom who has anguished over the fact that I, while in love with the baby to come from the pregnancy, is NOT in love with the pregnancy itself. And I often wondered, sometimes aloud, whether that makes me a bad person, bad mother, less feminine, and a whole host of unsavory things. Thank you for showing me I am not any of those things. I am proud. I am anxious. I am excited. I am self-doubting. I am bursting with love. I am a mom.