Disclaimer: I love, love, love my children. I would have ten of them if I did not have to grow them inside of me for nine months. But I do, and it’s hard. And it gets harder every time. So hard, that I spent a week after finding out about #4 wondering if I could possibly survive another nine months of this again, as if I had a choice.
For me, it’s not so much about the physical hijacking of my body, despite the unimaginable discomfort, months of sleepless nights and a new painful ailment every month. My challenge is with my mental health; I struggle to remain recognizable and loveable, or at least tolerable, to my loved ones…and myself. Last night, Darren asked me what I was writing about. I said “pregnancy” and he said “are you writing mean things about me?” Poor guy. He deserves better than pregnant me. Our babies are my very best attempt at a peace offering; Thank you for putting up with me. Please accept this gift as a show of gratitude…and remorse.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I would bash those women who use pregnancy as an excuse to bitch and whine and make everyone around them miserable unless they are constantly catered to. Not me. I was blissful. Ok, that may be a stretch. Someone will surely call me on that, probably my sister-in-law who tells me that she knew I was pregnant due to the amount of sleeping, eating and whining I was doing. I suppose I wasn’t quite myself, but to the best of my knowledge, I could not have been happier. I remember the way it would suddenly strike me that my baby was growing inside of me, and I would smile and feel warm and tingly. I felt honored and blessed. And when someone would ask me how I was feeling I was always “great”. Never mind that I was puking every twenty minutes or so morning, noon and night, or that I was painfully tired but I couldn’t sit or lie down for fear of my body bursting into flames from the heartburn raging through my entire body like wildfire. “Great. I’m great. Thank you for asking.”
By my second pregnancy, I was still blissful and honored and blessed blah, blah, blah. But I quickly discovered that, ironically, pregnancy and children do not mix. This time around, I did not have the option of sleeping my way through my body’s inability to function sanely and rationally. Instead, I had to keep up with a three year old. I had to be alert and creative and patient and fun, in between all the puking. Have you ever tried puking with a three year old in your face asking you why you’re puking and “could you please stop and get me some juice”? Yeah, blissful.
Pregnancy #3; the novelty has worn off. We found out I was pregnant this time during our family vacation in Disney world. I was already well aware of it as the revolting signs that a baby is inside of me, sucking the life out of me, had now become unmistakable (to reiterate, I love, love, love my children). But I kept it to myself until Darren returned one morning with a pregnancy test (I guess he has his own unmistakable signs). It was an amazing and unforgettable trip, and despite my unbearable exhaustion and perpetual nausea , I spent the week dragging myself through every amusement park at Disney with a smile on my face, because, let’s face it, you can’t walk around being a miserable bitch in the happiest place on earth.
But once I was out of Mickey Mouse’s site and back to reality, I started to become a bit unglued. Now I had two demanding children to fend off, I mean take care of, despite my anguish. I also had a house with walls that were closing in on me at mere thought of an addition to our family, and a mother on her death bed whom I had to accept would never get to meet her latest grandchild and I’ll never even know if she heard me tell her the news that day when she was fighting for her life and they told us she might not make it through the night. It was too much. Certainly enough to break a lesser woman, but I was about to be the mother of three which meant this was no time show fear. And to be honest, I was truly afraid that if acknowledged every emotion that was threatening my well being at that time, it would have been harmful to my unborn child. But this time around, when someone asked how I was feeling, I was “Miserable! I’m over it! Screw you for asking”, more or less.
Considering some of these extenuating circumstances, which I have only just put into perspective as I write this, I feel somewhat justified in confessing that I did, in fact, unleash the beast during pregnancy #3. I remember quite a few episodes that left me wondering who this crazy fat bitch was that was running my life and praying that my loved ones would forgive me or assuring my children that their real mommy would be back soon. Like when we were house hunting and the crazy fat bitch demanded that my very kind, generous and obviously patient boyfriend “get me that house or I’m gonna be really pissed”, or when I started growling almost everything I uttered to my poor kids through clenched teeth just because they had the nerve to touch me or call me mommy. I wasn’t even aware of the teeth clenching thing until one day I heard Darren warn the kids not to make mommy use “the scary voice”.
And now, pregnancy #4. I have a pack of birth control pills in my cabinet that I requested after #3. I decided against starting them when Darren reminded me that they make me a little crazy. Neither of us anticipated we would be dealing with drastically crazy again so soon. And while life in general is far more manageable this time around, with a big, beautiful new home and my mother now at peace, most of the challenges and joys of pregnancy remain constant, and my sanity remains…hanging on by a thread.
As usual, I had just gotten back into my skinny jeans when I found out I was pregnant again. As usual I am forced to choose between not eating and dealing with the puking and migraine consequences, or eating and instantly feeling like my insides are a raging inferno. As usual, I am in a love/hate relationship with my children; I love, love, love them, but I hate the fact that 95% of their sentences begin with “mommy, I want…” “mommy I need…”, “mommy, where is my…” “MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!” As usual, I am wrought with guilt over not being able to “play” to the best of my ability or lie down with my daughter at night because laying down is not an option until around 11 p.m. when the heartburn has fizzled out. As usual, my brother and father are left speechless over the news of another child (anything beyond two is just inconceivable to them). As usual, I have baby mush brain which leaves me struggling with everything from a simple game of Candyland, to the basic “why does Cookie Monster eat his cookies like that?” type questions who’s answers once seemed so obvious to me. As usual, I find myself simultaneously snapping at my children and wanting to kick the crazy fat bitch’s ass for talking to my kids that way and putting that fearful look on their innocent little faces. And despite believing that I had held off on the crazy clenched teeth growling for much longer than usual until the other day when I snapped and then turned to Darren and proudly stated that that was the first time I had unleashed it, he was quick to point out, “No. No. You’ve been doing it for weeks.” And these days, if you ask me how I’m feeling, I can usually muster a “pretty good”.
It appears that writing this has been therapeutic as I awoke this morning with a renewed sense of calm after writing late into the night. While helping my daughter get ready for school today, Darren asked, “wait, where is all the yelling and arguing this morning?” I told her that I was sorry for being so grumpy when I’m pregnant and reminded her that it would help us both if she could be a bit more cooperative. She suggested that it would be even more helpful if I would say things like “Madeline, you don’t have to clean your room the whole time I’m pregnant.” Ah, the six year old art of negotiation.
Pregnancy is hard. Four pregnancies in seven years are downright agonizing. Those nine months are so seemingly eternal that the idea of the unbearably excruciating pangs of childbirth is eagerly anticipated. I genuinely enjoy labor because as soon as that first contraction comes on and I feel the familiar anguish of my body being ripped apart, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. About 8 hours and several secret thoughts of removing my (or Darren’s) reproductive organs with my own bare hands later, I will be holding my precious child in my arms and anticipating eating anything I want with no threat of heartburn. I will also have almost entirely forgotten what was so bad about it all in the first place. I’ll be a mom, again. And every time I meet one of my children, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Who wouldn’t want that four times over?