My pregnancies haven't been particularly rough on the physical side of things, aside from intense morning sickness at the beginning of all but the second, but mentally and emotionally, I feel like a completely different person.
I want to be that woman who is glowing and rounding out who seems to be filled with mirth and gladness at the miracle inside her, but I'm afraid I'm just not. And when it comes to savouring the moment? I'd definitely sprint through to the finish line of pregnancy if I could. Why? Let's be intensely real and a little personal for a moment: It took me three pregnancies to figure out that I definitely experience pre-natal depression and anxiety.
Looking back to my first pregnancy, I should have known that sometimes lying on the floor petrified to move, and feeling a nothingness I'd never previously experienced was probably not just normal pregnancy stuff. There were other hints too. Joseph said more than once that I wasn't acting like myself. But somehow I just thought I was just busy and tired and pregnant, and that I needed to simply push through.
Pushing through when you're just you with no children is a lot different than with children. Fast forward to pregnancy number three where I found myself with two active toddlers day in, day out. I noticed that I was incapable of enjoying the mothering tasks I lived for; hugs, kisses, snuggling or reading to them without intense claustrophobia. Making a meal was another thing I love doing that became an insurmountable thing. Being with my children without becoming anxious at their very presence, or kissing them goodnight, constantly thinking it was the last time I'd ever do that, and going to sleep at night thinking we might not wake up tomorrow were among my big clues that I might have something bigger going on. Long story short, I got some guidance from midwives and my doctor and managed another pregnancy with their help. My typical experience is that I leave these things behind post-partum, and then I get back to being myself.
Now, in the throes of pregnancy number five, I'm managing decently, which is to say that I'm parenting well, getting rest and I've got tools for when I begin to implode. Fresh air, exercise, good food and sleep is doing wonders. Prayer and routine and honestly, a good amount of herbal and homeopathic medicines are making me feel more on the side of thriving vs. surviving. And yet, the threat of sheer panic at the unfamiliar, or at moments of overwhelm looms. That feeling like the world will crumble at any moment and that I'm walking on thin ice is constantly there, making it difficult to actually enjoy, to actually savour this time of rounding belly and little flutters, of wonder and intrigue at the prospect of meeting an entirely new human being of my husband and my making.
But I woke up this morning and realized that I have to try. Last night I had a dream that my late father was beside Joseph and I as I delivered this baby. He held the baby and my hands in his, then I woke up. I woke up feeling incredibly comforted. I don't put a lot of stock in dreams, but this one was definitely a positive one that inspired me to reach inside for more. That's when I realized that I'm not as alone and as weak as I feel a lot of the time. It is actually possible to be in this moment of waiting and wondering and give it meaning. It is actually possible to savour a time of uncertainty, of unknowns and of a bit of darkness, like a little personal Advent.
At times today, it truly feels like a battle. Other times, it's like a refreshing workout. I'll say to myself, "Lets enjoy these facts: The baby's heartbeat is going strong as we heard at the midwives. We made ice cream and yoghurt today to enjoy and to nourish us. Today there is sunshine and not a lot of wind, which means we can go outside." Putting those little things above the looming shadows of doubt and unrest takes true effort. Banishing unhappy thoughts is work, but it's a start in savouring.