My world is pretty much all baby all of the time. Is it dropping? What’s that twinge? Can I bend over and get that? Am I sitting in such a way that I can get up off the couch and go to the bathroom without assistance? Cankles. Cankles are new. Cankles are a little shocking. And shitty shitty shitty nights sleep.
Also, I stopped weighing myself and I stopped looking at the scale. Because… I can’t help the urge to fix the number, and I can’t fix the number… no matter what I do or how much I walk, or how many lentils I munch, I can’t do anything about the water retention, the baby gaining his lbs, my butt that just keeps growing and growing and growing. I can do something about it after, but not right now. I refuse to fixate over 5-10 lbs when I know that realistically I will be striving to lose 30+ when all of this is said and done (and by 30+ I mean AFTER the baby and the fluid and the placenta exit stage left).
This thing happened this week. I stopped feeling good about going to work. Mentally, I love going to work. I like being busy, I like the people interaction, I generally like what I do (even though it is not 100% fulfilling or challenging at the moment), and it makes the weeks ZOOM by. Thirty-nine weeks? WHAT? Wasn’t I just complaining about feeling constantly hungover? Where did this pregnancy go? Anyways… towards the end of last week I started to get uncomfortable beyond the general soreness. Then last weekend… well you guys know how much that sucked, but it kind of took my breath away. On Monday I felt even worse than during the weekend. My joints are loosening and they ache. Not just a little ache, but the kind that takes your strength, the kind that makes you limp and wince and walk so very slowly. The kind that hurts to stand, the kind that is in my feet and hands and pelvis and hips.
But, there is money to think of… in my non-maternity-leave-ness (except for state disability), and also my mental state. I don’t function well when I am bored at home for long stretches. Even when I am working from home it isn’t enough for me. I like working, I like being busy, I like having a purpose and feeling useful. And it is not that I am not capable, I am just slow and big and hurting.
The hurting. It got to me. That, and the slight anxiety about breaking my water at work (something I doubt will even happen at all, but oh god what if it did? I would for sure ruin some carpeting). But it took me a little bit. First Kamel really wanted me to stop working on Monday and I shrugged him off. Then I made some phone calls about pregnancy disability and the pay situation, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. For the most part working is great! Except when I get up to walk to the kitchen to refill my water, then it hurts. Or when I get up to walk to the bathroom, or leave for lunch, or in the afternoons when the pressure begins to grow unbearable from sitting in maternity jeans (or leggings) where the seam pushes against my swelling pelvis as the baby drops. And except when I walk the mile to the train that takes me 20-25 minutes… 20-25 minutes that now feels so incredibly daunting when I first leave the building. The walk that used to take me an even 15. During those times being at work sucks. It hurts me, it makes me wish for sweatpants, and naps, and the ability to put my feet up. It makes me wish I wasn’t there.
I really thought that I would be working until I popped. I really did. I was ok with it, and I also never saw it going any other way than that. Work work work until I literally cannot work another moment, go to the hospital, have baby, recover with baby, back to work. But no, that’s not what’s going to happen. Yesterday I went to the doctor and told them I was hurting and they gave me a notice that said I was to not go to work anymore, and I was relieved. And even though Kamel wished that I would stop working sooner, even though my family wished that I would have stopped working sooner – I felt good about it, because I didn’t tap out until I had made that choice for me.
There are so few things I have any control over – being the best judge of my own limitations is one of them, and I’ll keep waving that flag for as long as I’m able.
Since I’ve been pregnant total strangers (as well as work people and acquaintances) have ladled on the un-asked-for advice. Some of my favorites are:
- Seriously Lauren, don’t name your kid something shitty, ok?!
- Don’t waddle. Never waddle. Once you start to waddle you will never be able to stop and that is when the back pain kicks in.
- You shouldn’t do any housework or laundry. Bending isn’t good for you. Also, you’ll start contracting and you’ll need to sit down and drink water. Don’t be silly.
- If you haven’t bought breast pads now, do it. You could start leaking at any time.
Yesterday in the elevator a man saw my Starbucks cup and said, “Decaf, I presume?” … These conversations exhaust me, but I remain polite. I replied, “No, actually hot chocolate.” And then he went on to tell me how he has an 8-month old and how is wife was “really good about no caffeine the WHOLE time and then just recently she had some of my coffee and it REALLY affected the baby… you know, through the milk.” And then I got off the elevator and told him to have a nice day.
Socially, it seems a pregnant woman is completely open for commentary on her body, her habits, her choices – by complete strangers. I hate this so much I can’t even express clearly how much I hate this. But I also know that these people are not trying to be mean. For the most part they just want to share something about themselves. They’ve been pregnant once or they know someone who is or has been and they just want to share too. So I nod and smile and take none of their advice. Sometimes I think about it later and sometimes I don’t. As a pregnant lady I don’t feel like dealing with offending people when they are well-meaning… as a mother, on the other hand, I guarantee you I will have no problem telling people to shut the fuck up if they think they can share opinions with me on how I’m raising my kids.
There it is! My big thick line in the sand. Pregnancy – possibly a universal well-wishing “aww so cute” experience for on-lookers. Parenting – mind your own. And when it comes to the few choices I have about my own body, my own capabilities, my own limitations as a pregnant woman – those are mine too. I love Kamel, he is my partner in all things. I respect my family and listen to their advice and support whole-heartedly. But in the end – to work or not to work, how much pain I can handle, what I am comfortable attempting – those are my choices. Even if they aren’t what I originally planned, I still need to own them 100%.