After my sadfest over Diastasis Recti, I decide to reach out to a friend who is also new mom and fellow runner. If anyone would understand mourning the loss of control and muscle mass, it would be her.
My email went something like this:
Something gross happened this weekend. My abdominal muscles separated.
Pregnancy is disgusting.
In worst parenting move of the century, I actually cried yesterday and proclaimed “I hate this baby.” Not true, of course, but it better turn out really cute and love the crap out of me. Right now it is just kicking my diaphragm, which is hard to find adorable.
Honestly, that’s how I feel sometimes. Pregnancy is disgusting. Conceptually, I understand why I’m going through all these changes. In an abstract way, it is downright fascinating– I am building a human. That’s some science-fiction level shit.
In reality, that’s some science-fiction level shit… and it is happening TO ME. When it is my body being occupied, when my boobs are massive, when my butt has expanded to the size of my baby bump, my organs are rearranging and I can’t breathe…all for this person who I don’t even really know yet? During my lowest moments over the past few days, I’ve actually worried that this child won’t care about me at all, and I will have literally turned my insides out for no reason. Cue the crying and hating of the baby.
Unfortunately, there’s yet many times you can decide to temporarily despise the baby and be the worst mommy ever. But there are more times that balance it, I promise.
Like so many things in our culture right now, the media images of pregnancy/motherhood are filtered and airbrushed. It’s more layered, complicated, and messy. And more interesting, I think.
I was tempted to type that it gets better, but it’s more that it changes. And the variety is what makes it interesting.
Ah, now there is the truth, isn’t it?
I have struggled with my own feelings about this pregnancy. For many, many reasons, but specifically because I always think I should be “happier” about it. Some of this stems from the fact that I’m navigating a lot of emotional stuff right now. (For those just catching up, my mom died in January, my father lost his marbles for a bit, and Mr. O’s dad is still not speaking to us for no discernible reason.) But alongside that epic maelstrom of crap, I’m berating myself that I can’t override my own complicated feelings and just be some glowing, happy earth-mother who doesn’t wear shoes and blissfully allows her body to be taken over by her cherubic baby.
Maybe I am the worst mommy ever. Cue the crying and hating of myself.
I have had more than one person insist that they had a connection with their baby whilst in utero. They “knew” things about their child. I know nothing, except that Chick is alive, well, and currently punching my right side which it prefers over the left. I do not have a psychic connection with Chick. And I will admit I felt bad when I couldn’t respond to these comments with “Oh, yes… I know Chick already has a flair for international diplomacy because of blah, blah, blah.”
Another person insisted that I must “know” what the gender of my baby is. I explained (for the BILLIONTH time) I’m not finding out– to which they responded “But you must know! You must have some gut feeling if it is a boy or a girl.” Look, I have a hard time telling if Chick is moving or if I’m just having gas. How in the name of all that is holy would I be able to tell the difference between a penis and a vagina?
This is, I think, compounded by being infertile. (Yes, I still own that title. A post for another day, perhaps.) Because Mr. O and I tried so so hard, I know what it is like to feel as though the very act of pregnancy is out of reach. I should be happy to go through all this pain because I know what it took to get this far. I know people who will never be able to have children. It seems wrong and selfish not to think this is a delightful miracle accompanied by unicorns and rainbows.
It isn’t that easy. I can’t airbrush the very real fact that my feelings about pregnancy are complex. They don’t fit into a neatpink/blue box, which means at times I feel as though these feelings don’t fit. Period.
There is no room for women to feel ambivalent about pregnancy and motherhood. If you express anything other than bliss and joy, you’re labeled unwomanly, a bad mommy, a Medea who is clearly about to murder her young.
Why can’t our feelings be messy when all of us know that every aspect of life is messy? It is, as my friend points out, what makes it interesting.