At Home, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Pregnancy is just kind of a demoralizing experience. There is so much about it to love. I love feeling my baby move inside of me. I love the way it has opened my eyes to the realities of being a woman. I love the way pregnancy puts so much into perspective, not quite drowning out my goals and interests in life, but providing a reprimand to the ways I can obsess over them. I love the way I am being forced to consider my body and accept its power and limitations. But despite all of these things, there is still so much about pregnancy that I find to be humiliating and demoralizing.
To start, there is the persistent physical discomfort. Even my second trimester was marked by it. My body aches and groans and at times it rears up against me in violent protest as it simultaneously stretches and squashes. Every night I go to bed with a whimpering body trying to digest what it needs but is unable to take in and process. I wake up in the middle of the night and my hips are sobbing as they try to slowly unhinge and loosen to make room. The walls of my belly exist in shocked protest as an ever bigger and bigger foot or elbow thrusts newfound weight against them. My body often can’t seem to decide if this is the best thing ever – because it is what it was made to do – or the most embarrassing, as it struggles to figure out how to make it all work. It doesn’t feel like failure – not at all. But it does feel like a slow, nine month long study in confusion and mayhem.
And I feel this all the most when it comes to sex. My body seems to be so distracted by everything else it’s trying to figure out that sex is pretty much the last thing it wants. I often grieve over this reality for my husband, but in truth, it’s just as sorrowful for myself. I love sex, but I do not love it with a bowling ball strapped to my midsection and hips that scream when twisted. I don’t feel like myself. I don’t not feel beautiful; in fact I love my belly and the shape it’s given me. I just feel like my body doesn’t know what to do with itself.
I remember thinking before we got pregnant that the whole experience would be so romantic. Sex to try to conceive would be so hot and we would have nine months of googly eyes before the baby came. Trey and I have had many wonderful moments throughout these months. We have had some beautifully intimate and special times, and I have never felt more protection, concern, and affection from my husband than during these months. He has served me sacrificially the whole way through. But it hasn’t necessarily been romantic – getting pregnant was more funny than anything else and my body has generally not been well disposed to food and late night activities. The idea of a babymoon sounds more exhausting than rewarding. Survival has been the goal more than anything else.
I don’t want to complain. I really, really, really don’t want to complain. All of this is worth it and more than anything else in the world I can’t wait to meet my daughter. But I also just wish I could have better understood how much the sacrifices of motherhood would start with pregnancy, not birth. My expectations weren’t right. The challenge parenting presents to your sense of self starts at the very beginning, at conception. From that first moment, the call to give of yourself begins, and though the physical reality of my life will soon start to improve once again, the need to die to self has only just begun.
(Image by Wolfgang Sterneck, "A Reality called Boom."
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.