Thursday, September 19, 2013

Comparison is the Thief of Joy, and Other Mommy Lessons

I haven't had much to say over these last few months. Or... maybe I have, but I am just to sheepish and ashamed to admit of what has been coming to mind. Regardless, I thought with today's news from today's doctor's appointment that it was time to break my silence.

Disclaimer: what I am about to type has been particularly painful for me. I've thought for months about how I want to blog concerning my pregnancy, and have kept mum with concern for offending someone. I have many friends and acquaintances that I know would L-O-V-E to be in my position, and I want them, as well as anyone else reading this to know that I am in no way trying to hurt anyone's feelings. Please do not take my words as my attempt at making light of any of your situations. I want you to know, I am thankful for my pregnancy. I love this little man that my body is bringing into this word, and I am so thankful for him, as well as for the closeness and new level of intimacy it has brought to my marriage. I am not trying to make light of this wonderful miracle that I am lucky enough to have in my life, but instead am just trying to get my frustrations out, and see if anyone else can relate to my issues. Again, I'm sorry.

All right, with all of that being said, let's just get right down to it: pregnancy is awful. I know you've heard that and have seen it in various movies and books, but it is so true, and I wouldn't have believed it until I experienced it for myself. I think too often when I try to express my frustrations with growing a human, women around me want me to sweep my anger under a rug and keep it hidden, but I can't do it anymore. Pregnancy is the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

I am very lucky this is the worst thing my body has encountered, I know that, and I thank God in daily prayer for that. But I have hit every symptom and milestone in pregnancy thus far, and I have to tell you- I AM SICK AND TIRED OF IT.

My first trimester was stereotypical- I was sicker than a dog for weeks. Which I know a lot of women say, but I think I was above average. For seven weeks or so, I literally could not go through a day without throwing up at least twice. Nothing smelled good or tasted good. I would force myself to eat, and usually, the only thing that would stay down is greasy McDonald's fries, which of course brought on a whole new level of "mommy guilt." I spent those weeks stressed, worried about the health of my baby, and trying my very hardest not to vomit in front of my entire fourth grade class. I think I tricked most people into believing I was actually healthier than I was- the only person who was lucky enough to really see how bad it was was my husband. There were a couple of weeks that were particularly bad, to the point that we were inches from jumping into the car to head to the E.R. for emergency fluids. One vivid Sunday, I distinctly recall throwing up a whopping 16 times, and from that day forward, I have been unable to eat anything remotely related to Taco Bell (that chicken quesadilla seemed like such a good idea at the time). There are certain songs (Suit and Tie, anything Skrillex) that I can't hear or smells I can't smell (Bath and Body Works Honeysuckle) without becoming overwhelmingly nauseous, all thanks to their association with that particular time in my pregnancy. And don't even get me started on chili dogs or chocolate milk or Sprite... or saltines.

Fortunately, that period stopped with my second trimester. Unfortunately, that was also the time my husband moved to Chicago and I went through the worst ups-and-downs of my life. My weight started to skyrocket, since I could actually eat again. Very early on, I had to switch to maternity clothing, thereby bringing my self-esteem even lower. For someone who has such difficult body image issues to begin with, pregnancy is NOT very friendly and forgiving. Watching my weight drastically increase from week to week was becoming so hard, my husband INSISTED I hide our scale until after the pregnancy is over, and it has stayed hidden. Prior to this week, I think the weight gain has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with, which has sent me on another "mommy guilt" downward spiral.

I can't tell you how many articles and blogs I've read about little Utah mommies who gain an absolute minimum amount of weight, and then shed it all magically right after the baby is born. Or moms who manage to stay active, running three to four miles a day, and finding the time and money to put together healthy pregnancy smoothies and salads. For someone who has gained XX lbs. (I'm not ready to divulge that number just yet, it fills my eyes with tears just acknowledging it) and has seen her pregnancy pants become tighter and tighter, none of these articles are helping. I have often spent days in bed (not an exaggeration) just wondering what I have done wrong to gain so much weight, thereby allowing the guilt of worrying about MY OWN IMAGE completely crush the wonder that I am bringing another human into this world. For every guilty, negative-self image thought I have, I am completely overwhelmed by how selfish I have become. It is the worst kind of vicious circle, one that continually defeats me.

I think where this becomes the most disheartening, however, are the medical issues I've started to encounter this week. On Monday, I had my 37 week appointment. Stephen and I were both excited to hear if we were beginning to make any progress towards early labor (without getting too graphic, I've started to see "progression" with practice contractions these last few weeks). Unfortunately, that excitement turned very quickly as soon as my nurse took my blood pressure. According to both she and my doctor, my levels were looking high. I have done everything in my power to try to combat such a thing from happening- since my second trimester, I have been working out about 4 times a week for 45 minutes to an hour, as well as trying to watch what I eat. Sure, I haven't been overly careful about getting all of the whole grain/vegetable/fruit/quinoa crap that everyone is into with pregnancy these days (yeah, I'm sorry, but those things just don't sound good!), but I have been very careful about not overindulging, especially with my weight issues. Even with all of that, my blood pressure was high, and as of today, it is still rising. Now, on top of all the guilt I had with my selfish self-esteem issues, I am trying to sort through my guilt of somehow letting my blood pressure become so high.

Luckily, the blood pressure issues we're seeing are not preeclampsia. I have had a couple of friends combat their way through that complication, and it sounds like it can be particularly scary. Instead, I have been diagnosed with gestational hypertension. Essentially what this means is that I have high blood pressure induced by my pregnancy, as my pressure has never been this high prior to pregnancy. In addition to seeing my OBGYN weekly (as is normal with being this close to the end of my pregnancy), I also get to see a high risk OBGYN to keep tabs on my blood pressure, as well as my baby's progression. Since I escaped preeclampsia, I also escaped our Monday, September 23rd labor induction my OBGYN was ready to schedule, just in case. Instead, we are scheduling an induction for Sunday night, October 6th, which is just around my due date anyways, so no big deal. The only change we might see is if my health or the baby's health takes a turn, in which my doctor said we'll induce immediately, or if I naturally go into labor myself.

So what have I learned from all of this?

  • I hate being pregnant.
  • I hate that as a pregnant woman, I am expected to grin and bare everything, and just be thankful for my little miracle.
  • I hate how the media hypes up pregnancy. I feel awful for all the things I said about Kim Kardashian (of all people) and her weight gain. Serious weight gain in pregnancy is just part of the package deal. It's going to happen- I think some women are just luckier than others.
  • I also hate how the media hypes up postpartum weight loss. Seriously? You're expecting women who have gained an enormous amount of weight in such a short amount of time to shed it all within months of giving birth? Shame on you.
  • I hate how guilty I feel for having these feelings, I also hate that I even HAVE these feelings.
  • I hate that everyone wants to compare their pregnancy to mine. Honestly, I don't mind talking about how we differ- what makes me crazy is when I hear "Oh, but my pregnancy was so easy!" or even worse, "but isn't it worth it for what your body is creating?" I don't know how many times I've had to explain how happy I am to be the vessel for my little man, just how much I hate everything that comes with it. Stop making me feel guilty.
  • I hate having swollen ankles, swollen fingers, and a swollen face. 
  • I hate how my big girl pregnancy pants aren't fitting well anymore.
  • I hate wondering what people are saying about how I look. I know I've gained weight, why do you think I haven't been posting pictures on Facebook?
  • I hate having no energy.
  • I hate being unable to sleep because I have to pee, he's kicking me violently from the inside, or it feels like my uterus is about to pop.
  • I hate having "practice contractions." Just bring on the real ones, and let's get this over with.
  • I hate how guilty society makes me feel for wanting a medicated delivery. Bring on the epidural, I know I'm a big baby.
  • I hate feeling guilty for not making my own baby food. That's weird.
  • I hate how judgy everyone gets when you talk about breastfeeding. Uh, my breasts, my decision MAN.
  • I also hate how much I compare myself to everyone and everything. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a picture of a friend of mine on Facebook, who has stayed teeny-tiny and adorable throughout her pregnancy, and instead of feeling happy for her, I feel miserable for myself. Or how many times one of my friends has blogged about her pregnancy workout routine and I've felt guilty about only accomplishing a two mile walk instead of a four mile run. 
The following is true:

The most important lesson I've learned through all of this is to just let go- the chips will fall where they may, and I can safely say that I have done everything I can to bring about the best possible outcome I can. It isn't my fault I have been diagnosed with GH, my doctor kept reassuring me with that over and over again. I have done everything I can to bring a healthy baby into this world. My only responsibility now is to LET THIS GO- I am done comparing myself to everyone and everything around me. I will be happy for those women who gain 20 pounds, as well as those that gain 70. I will applaud a mother for taking the time to make sure her diet stays gluten free during her pregnancy- that just isn't me. I will mentally high five those who can Zumba until a week before they give birth, when every time I try to dance, it feels like my uterus is going to fall out through my pants. I will welcome opinions, smile, and nod my head, and then go about doing what I was originally going to do. 

But best of all, I will soak in all of the craziness of these last few weeks of pregnancy. If all goes according to my October 6th induction, I only have 17 more days with this little man. I will embrace that my body has done what it is meant to do. I have somehow taken my husband's genes and my own, and combined them to make a whole new person. I will relish every little kick, knowing that my son is showing me that he's still healthy and growing. I will be thankful that I am only suffering from gestational hypertension, and nothing worse. I will be grateful that my son gets to continue to grow instead of be plucked early from me. There is nothing more humbling than pregnancy, and for that, I am grateful.