So, I’ve been in Canada now for about a week. It’s been so lovely to be here surrounded by my family and friends and to have people notice my little baby bump with a warm smile and a cooing lilt to their voices.
It’s week 16 and I am starting to feel better, at least better (less nauseous) compared to a month ago when I just wanted to curl up and die. The thing is, no one really can sympathize with a pregnant woman going through the retching and overheating and fatigue and mood swings and sore breasts (among a list a mile long of other issues) because, after all, this is what we wanted!
And, I felt reminded of this every time I complained about how awful I felt. I was afraid I was somehow being ungrateful. Fate finally gave me this gift of Motherhood—something I have wanted my whole life—and I was bitching about it? I added self-loathing and self-criticism to the pile of things that were making me miserable.
And my blogs don’t convey it. I really was miserable. I was more miserable than I was happy about being pregnant. And I hated myself for it.
And miserable doesn't mean regretful. I wouldn't change this for this world. I'm thrilled to be becoming a mother, so please don't misinterpret my words here. I also told Little Spark every day that I wasn't upset that he or she is growing in this belly of mine, but I was just feeling like crap because of it. In fact, I have been rallying Little Spark to please make it easier on me. It's the beginning of negotiations between mother and child.
Then, I got sick with a cold and that awful flu (or maybe it was food poisoning). I’m still coughing as I type this. Almost a month later, I am still hacking and spitting up phlegm and trying to get through a whole night of sleep without gasping myself awake with throaty coughing. I’m actually glad that Guo Jian isn’t with me on this trip because he’d surely be annoyed by the perpetual sleep interruptions. Hell, I’m annoyed and I’m also the one that’s got to do the hacking!
(Yeah, and everyone I tell that to says, "Well, it's good training for when the baby arrives! Your sleep will be interrupted constantly!" (Then they laugh) To them, I want to say, "Shut up! The baby's not here yet. Give me a break!!")
At the last pre-natal visit, the doctor gave me some safe Chinese medicine for the coughing and I’ve been taking it religiously, but it’s a three-week dose of small little glass viles of sweet, minty, brown liquid that I have to suck through a mini straw twice a day and I only got it two weeks ago. Who knows if it’s working, but I suppose I’ll just keep on sucking it back and hoping for the best.
I’m reading a great book that my friends Sarah and Suzy loaned me called “Bear With Me: What they don’t tell you about pregnancy and new motherhood.” (by Diane Flacks). The author is from Toronto and I’m loving her writing. She, like me, had a rough first trimester (worse than I did, actually) and she writes about how she felt after a dinner party with friends:
“When I got home, I was bleak, depressed, and couldn’t stop crying. I just wanted to be alone, but was terrified of being abandoned. I wanted to talk of nothing but the baby, but was afraid of being trapped with it. I wanted people to know how debilitating this first trimester felt, but didn’t want to be pathologized. I was a mess.”
Really, I could have written that. I have had all of those feelings and then some.
Recently, I learned that Guo Jian’s band will have an amazing opportunity to tour New Zealand for ten days in February on a fully-sponsored tour through the Arts & Culture department of the Chinese government. It’s like a golden egg for Chinese bands—a truly coveted chance for them to promote their music internationally. It would be their first international tour, as well.
I reacted to the news without the graciousness of a fellow artist who understands opportunity, but with the fangs of a scared dog afraid of being abandoned and kicked and starved, all at once. I pictured myself with a month-old infant (or younger, if Little Spark comes late!) and completely alone, without her privileged male partner (bastard!) who doesn’t have to breast feed and is “free to go” (bastard!) while I would be completely trapped and house bound by a mini human stranger who couldn’t tell me why he or she was crying.
I was inconsolable. He was upset. I was upset. It was messy.
Luckily, we separated and both sought support from outside of our relationship and when we came together again on the issue, he was calmer and I was more reasonable. Ten days is doable. He’s not going to abandon me or Little Spark. He said he’d make sure I had support and asked if I wanted a friend to come from overseas and he’d contribute to that. He even said he wouldn’t plan anything else that required travelling until the baby was at least three months old. And that's the way it should be, I think. I mean, I can't suddenly decide to go on tour!!
Besides, these are things you can milk, right?
So, maybe he will experience a type of breast feeding after all!!! LOL!
Anyway, all this is to say that moods, emotions, physical instability and the overall overwhelming nature of being pregnant for the first time and in one’s first trimester (and just into the second) is, well, BIG. It’s bigger than I ever realized. It’s HUGE. (Not unlike my breasts, if you can even call them mine!) And, I think it’s okay to complain once in awhile. I mean, I’m growing a human being inside of me right now!! I think I deserve a few breaks from the sunny disposition that I’m supposed to have as an excited pregnant new-momma-to-be! <fer fuck’s sake!>
My crabby moments have lately been soothed by access to lots of yummy Western foods thanks to being in Canada, like candies that I’ve missed and chips (I know, I’m all about junk food these days!) and, of course, the comfort foods of home like sandwiches and simple pasta with red sauce and perogies. YUM. Okay, I’m hungry now. Like usual.
I’ve also been soothed by NEW CLOTHES. My Mom took me shopping on the third day of my visit and we scoured the regional used clothing stores for maternity shirts and pants that hold in my newly grown hips and ass and don’t squeeze my belly. We found lots of great things for super cheap and I now have a collection of both official maternity clothes and just bigger clothes for bigger me.
But, most of all, besides the coughing and hacking from this perpetual cold (thank you pregnancy hormones for suppressing my immune system!), I’m feeling more comfortable than I have in months. So, it’s a good time to finally be able to say to people, “I’m feeling good, actually. Right now I don’t want to dry heave or curl up in the back seat of a stranger’s car feeling like death’s slave. So, that’s great!”
People’s reactions are funny. They are so relieved to know that’s not how you feel right now because no one knows what to do with the honesty of physical discomfort in the moment—it makes people so uncomfortable and it’s not worth their squirming. I know. In fact, I stopped telling the whole truth and started just changing the subject, walking away, or sweeping it aside in a weak joke.
So, the biggest progress at week #16 is just the ability to finally, happily, be able to deliver the words: “I feel pretty good.”
Oh, and let's not forget these words, "Check out this baby belly!"
I no longer look like I just ate too much pizza and got chubby.