This week marked the halfway mark of my third pregnancy. 20 weeks down, 20 weeks to go.
It hasn’t gone by fast.
If this third pregnancy has solidified anything for me, it’s that I don’t like being pregnant. It’s not that it’s awful per se, and I am so very grateful that so far this pregnancy has been complication free. It’s just that apart from the whole miracle of birth and the kicks that I’m starting to feel (which I do love), it’s not that much fun. It’s a denial of things I would normally indulge in (oh margaritas and raw oysters, how I miss you). It’s an overindulgence of food and desserts to make up for the denial of my normal indulgences, resulting in a steady weight gain that I swore wouldn’t happen to me this pregnancy. It’s a welcome of all too familiar discomfort – of not being able to sleep on my stomach, of heartburn, of back pain, of headaches I can’t cure with advil. It’s the dawn of a new kind of anxiety – a kind I had forgotten about – where you pray and beg the weeks to go by until your baby is viable, until his lungs are developed, until he weights more and more – so God forbid, should you deliver early, he will be okay.
Notwithstanding the fact that I’ve been through this before and I know what’s to come (aka, my life won't be all that easy upon giving birth either), I find myself breaking a cardinal rule of mine and living outside of the moment; of counting down the weeks. Only 20 weeks left to go, was my mantra throughout much of this week. Only 20 weeks until I get my body back, until I get my life back, until I am not pregnant anymore.
Only I WON’T get my life back in 20 weeks. My life, and the lives of my husband and family, will be forever changed. It will be a positive change, about which I will someday say, “I can’t imagine I ever had a life before this little boy” – exactly what I say about my first two boys. But the fact is, this life I have now, that I have gotten used to, embraced, and found comfort in, will never return to me.
When Casey was born, I was bombarded by postpartum depression almost immediately. I loved Casey from the second I set my eyes on him, but it didn’t stop some shameful thoughts from entering my mind at the time – sentiments I’m embarrassed to admit, but they were there. I remember thinking that I had ruined Braden’s life by having another baby. That I had ruined our family’s balance and consistency and harmony. I remember being resentful of Casey. I remember asking my best friend, who has two children, when she got to the point with her second that she couldn’t imagine her life without him. Because in those first few weeks, I couldn’t imagine getting to that point. It’s not that I didn’t love my son, it’s just that my new life was unrecognizable to me – and I couldn’t get my bearings.
Unsurprisingly, I look at Casey now and can’t imagine my life without him. I can’t imagine Braden’s life without him. I can’t imagine our family without him. He has brought so much joy and love and laughter…. Those PPD infused newborn days seem like an lifetime ago, and I can’t even recognize myself in the memories of it. And I know – I am certain – that I will feel the same way about this new baby boy, whether I experience PPD again, or I fly through anxiety free.
But if I learned anything from my experience last time, it's that adding a new child does cause upheaval in a family. Not necessary negative upheaval, but upheaval nonetheless. It's something so new and so different that it's hard to even fathom before it happens just how drastic it will be.
Being in the midst of the physical perils of this pregnancy, it is hard to resist wishing away these last 20 weeks. In some ways, the complaints will only get worse – the aches, the pains, the whale like figure, the abstinence of alcohol at upcoming bachelorette parties and weddings. But these last 20 weeks are special too. They are the last 20 weeks of being a family of 4. Pretty soon our dynamics will be tossed in the air with lack of sleep and new schedules and newborn cries. And it will be amazing – there’s no doubt about it. This little baby will be a gift to every single one of us.
But I think it’s okay to mourn the impending loss of what is, the loss of what is now. And for the next 20 weeks, I am going to try my best to enjoy the “we” that we are today. Because it’s all about to change…
This little guy will be here before we know it.
And once he is, there's no going back. Ultimately, I know I won't want to.