Sunday, December 29, 2013

What I've learned, observed, and still don't know.

I'm pregnant, and people are excited, including me.  There are a lot of things I've reflected upon during these last 32 weeks (as of tomorrow), so here it goes - a veritable smattering of thoughts and reflections.


   Having gone through infertility for 3.5 years really did a number on me, as it would on anyone.  I wish it were easy to explain, but I don't think that it's possible.  Getting pregnant was a total shock; when you try for so long you end up eventually expecting pregnancy not to happen.

   After becoming a bit bitter and very numb last year toward the whole process, I was late in February of '12.  Since my body was working like an alarm clock, I have plenty of indication that occurrence was a miscarriage, not just a fluke hormonal change, and that brought my whole self-created armor to shatter.  I hadn't cried like I did that month since my dad had died, because that's when I started to feel a little bit of hope and excitement again.

   Something else I have reflected upon is the advice I was given during those years.  There's an internet meme or chart or something out there that marks off all the conflicting tips that people can give to women (and men!) who are trying to have a baby.

   Frankly, the only thing that any assortment of tips or approaches that an attempt to make a baby have in common is sex, so telling someone to do jumping jacks while drinking squash juice and relax but not too much may not work for everyone!

   I will say this, so it's not so long: the best thing anyone can do is to listen, to pray for the couple to be encouraged and to find peace, and to let them know they are not alone.  It also doesn't hurt to tell them to keep going, but that needs to come sensitively, especially if they decide that the journey is done for them, which can include natural childbirth, medically assisted childbirth, or adoption.

   The last thing that I want to say for now about infertility is this: life still happens, and if this is a time for you or someone you know to go through childlessness, I encourage you to consider what goals you want to achieve that don't have to do with a baby and go for them.  I got so conflicted about pursuing anything because I always struggled with what I would do if I got pregnant.  Never did I think, "Oh, I will go for said goal, and then I can always choose to stop if a baby comes along."  So if you're stuck waiting for something that you truly desire, see what else around you can be done and go for that for now - I wish I had!

Pregnancy Journey:

    So far this pregnancy has been about as good as it possibly could be - physically speaking.  I am very thankful to say that I haven't had any morning sickness, no gestational diabetes, and only the normal aches and pains  and physical changes that come with a human growing inside you and gaining 30+ pounds. 

    Emotionally and mentally, it's been fairly normal based on what I have read.  People talk about pregnancy brain, and I guess there's some merit to it.  For me, I forget things like crazy now, and I don't immediately care.  Both of those things are opposite of the usual for me.  Usually I never use a planner because I just don't need it, and usually when I do forget or lose something, I fret so much that I could benefit from a sedative.  That all to say, I have yet to lose my wedding rings, money, or things like that.  What I do forget, and it significantly bugs me, are people's names - people I've known for a few years even.

     To the emotional side, I definitely am more tearful than before, but I am still struggling with the emotional issues that were there before I ever got pregnant.  When my word-less-ness came back last fall (a symptom of grief for me - losing my thoughts and words mid-sentence), blaming it on the pregnancy was easy for a lot of people, and it kept me from having to explain why it was happening.
     I have really struggled with depression and loneliness this past fall, and I can both attribute that to the hormonal changes but also attribute it to the very stressful events that have happened.  Much of October and November was difficult for me because I had lost the regularity with which I met my friends last year, because my husband and I were significantly busier with work and school than we had planned, and because we hit some financial burdens that really shouldn't have happened (oh insurance, how fun).

    The Christmas season has been good for me and John.  It's been wonderful to get away for a while, to come home and relax together, and to start to get excited about this baby girl coming into our lives.  Our pregnancy class that we took mid-December was great - and all weekend long - and we are much more ready to get this labor going.  I'm still scared to death of it, but I really do feel better about it than I had in the beginning.  Also, it was cool to see so many other couples who were at about the same point as we are.  I will say this, though: a lot of future great-aunts, regular aunts, grandmas, and a grandpa decided, for the first time in their lives, that my stomach was worth manhandling.

Pregnancy Thoughts, Observations, and Things I Still Don't Know:

1. I wish Lake County, IL people were more warm and open, but boy am I glad that almost no one has tried to touch my stomach!

2. Everyone has an opinion about everything, and a lot of times they are simply opinions.  That is why I have stayed far and away from nearly everything on the internet aside from some articles on WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and the NorthShore University Medical System website to set up appointments.

3. What to Expect When You're Expecting is a great book - even-handed, very informative, and intelligent.  I started reading some other book that told me that swimming in any freshwater lake or stream should be totally avoided during pregnancy (the horror!!).  I went back to What to Expect the next day.

4. I haven't gotten a flu shot, and I won't.  The vaccine only covers one or two strains of the flu, and I don't desire to inject a scientific chance into my body that may do nothing against a virus I have been quite naturally resistant to over the last 15 years.  That to say...

5. I will likely get the tetanus/whooping cough vaccine, particularly because that directly affects my baby both pre- and post-birth.  I can handle a bad cough, but I'm afraid she won't be able to.

6. Enough with the serious stuff for a bit - my cravings have included chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, cheese, and beer.  Don't freak out, I haven't had a lager in a good long time.
  What I've been adverse to is smoked anything, bitter vegetables and fruits (usually the fruits aren't fresh when they are bitter), and anything remotely bad-tasting (to me).  I accidentally took some oyster stuffing at Thanksgiving and almost had to leave the table after I took a bite.
  Frankly, I'm obsessed with food right now, but I promise I won't steal anything of yours. I will certainly ask about it, though!

7.  We call our baby "Brunhilde" right now, and that's because a. we don't have a name picked out, b. all the names that I have liked have either become popular or aren't mutually appreciated (for good reason) in this family, and c. we aren't announcing it until the baby arrives.  Some people are very right that anyone will tell you their opinion about a name pre-baby, but are more likely to be quiet post-baby.

8. Speaking of which, anyone will give you their opinion about pregnancy, period.  I'm sorry to all of you who heard anything from me that wasn't actually truthful or asked for and was particularly unhelpful.

9. Horror stories from the delivery room are not helpful to the pregnant woman.

10. My belly band on my maternity jeans indents my stomach a little bit when I wear them.  I hope that isn't harmful to the baby - does anyone know if it is?

11. My husband is going to be a great dad, I wish my father was around to be the wonderful grandpa that he would have been, and I hope and pray that my child learns to love God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.

If you got to the bottom of this, good job!  Go enjoy a chocolate chip cookie - I know I would!