Week 19 ~ June 7, 2004
~ The Work of Pregnancy
I was feeling pretty pregnant last week after wearing my new maternity swimsuit, but now I'm feeling like my belly is smaller than it was.
I think it's an optical illusion. Last Friday, I visited a friend who is 28 weeks pregnant. She is getting tired of people gasping when she tells them she's not due until late August. I think she looks great, and I told her so. She has this beautiful belly, and she looks healthy and thriving, not tired or hot or cranky, and not at all at the end of her rope. My little belly looked like a practice one compared to hers, however.
Then yesterday I went to my cousin's baby shower. She is due in the middle of August, and also has a lovely round belly that looks great on her. She, too, is beaming and looking strong and very surely pregnant.
So, I look down on my little Penguin now, and I worry that my belly is shrinking. I've weighed myself and I'm not losing weight. I've stood in front of the mirror in my tightest-fitting clothes, and then stripped down to naked, to evaluate. What looked like an amazing protrusion last week that couldn't be mistaken for anything other than a pregnancy, looks to me now like a belly gained from over-doing it at a huge Thanksgiving meal. (Well, not when I see it naked, at least.)
I know my mind's eye is just playing tricks on me after seeing those two awesome pregnant babes. I think I'll always want to be further along in this pregnancy than I am, maybe because with the miscarriage, I felt like I was starting out already at 13 weeks pregnant. I've put in a total of 32 weeks being pregnant so far this year, and my 19-week belly just can't show all of that work to the world. Not to mention the time talking about and planning to conceive, then trying to conceive.
With this pregnancy, I've thought about how ironic it is that during the first trimester, which I really think is the hardest one, women don't physically show their pregnancies, and they are often encouraged to keep them a secret so that their lives can continue as usual if "things don't work out." My first trimester was a time when I desperately needed understanding and support. I not only felt sick and extremely tired, but I was emotionally vulnerable, preparing to be a mother again, but worried that it might not work out this time, again.
At the shower, when my pregnant cousin told us she was starting to get anxious about the birth (this is her first), her older sister and I reminisced about morning sickness, and we both agreed we'd rather go through labor and birth again than go through the first trimester illness and exhaustion. I am so glad I felt comfortable sharing the news of my pregnancy with people right away this time, and that they were all an incredible source of support, rooting for this baby and me and treating me like a normal pregnant woman.
Last week at my prenatal yoga class, during the meditation part at the end, our instructor almost made me cry. After telling us all to lie down in a comfortable position, close our eyes and helping us to relax, she said, "Thank you for the wonderful thing you are doing right now for us, for the world. Your bodies are working so hard to grow and protect your babies. Your children will be our future, and you are doing the amazing work of carrying this child and taking care of it for us. Thank you for that." I wonder how often we thank women for this great job they do for all of us? Pregnancy and parenting is certainly some of the most incredible work I've ever done. I'm thankful that I am able to do it, but it also feels really good to be thanked for it and to have the work of pregnancy acknowledged.