In Great Expectation

Today I dared to pee on a stick. Actually, my bravery began a few days ago when I got on my bike and rode to the drugstore to pick up the pregnancy test.  I did my best to ride slow and not to sweat and more importantly, not to fall.

I had to do a u-turn on an unpaved road because they were doing construction.  Don’t fall. I rode to town and the Kruidvat was closed.  It was the day of the worker; everyone’s resting but me.  And of course, my in-laws had warned me about that last week but I forgot.

So yesterday I went again and everything was open and I tried not to make eye contact with the woman at the counter as I laid down six pregnancy tests.  Have a nice day, she said.

I have done pregnancy tests before.  Once at work, a long time ago when I wanted it to be negative and I was sure it wasn’t going to be.  I’ve done it when my period was way too late and I was hopeful and ultimately disappointed.  I know what it’s like not to see anything but confirmation you peed on a stick.

The double line showed up in the second minute.  I would say faint, I feel like I should say faint, like all the blogging gals do. But it was kind of clear.  At the five minute mark, it is there, not as dark as the test line, but there.  I am strangely numb while I look at it. Detached.  Like how a scientist must be upon some great discovery.

Afterwards, I go back to bed. Pet the Lilou’s belly, the little indent near where her stitches used to be.  And slowly the possibility unfolds.  I had given up on the baby name searches, the what to expect lists.  But for the rest of the day, I allow myself to deliberate not over hormones and two week waits, but to read about what baby names are in fashion. What would happen next.  What might happen next.

Like the weather here today, a dry gray sky- we remain cautiously optimistic.

I wrote the above five months ago.

We are 21 weeks this Friday and everything is well.  Almost as a kind of reward for what it took to get to this point, there has been no morning sickness.  A bountiful appetite, and now an impossible to hide waistline.

I confess it’s strange to finally arrive somewhere you’ve been striving for after so long.  At first, it was like I had given all my attention to the getting pregnant, that it seemed I had nothing left for the being pregnant.  I ran away from those exhaustive and exhausting shopping lists.  I read symptom lists repeatedly, only to forget everything.  I did a lot of sleeping.

Things are better now.  I’m getting used to being a normal pregnant lady.  It’s been interesting.  I’m learning things about myself that I didn’t know before.  Like, I’m vain.   Really vain.  I’ve never been thin, never had an hourglass figure, never felt I could trade anything for my looks.  But I didn’t realize how much I took my body for granted, how much the physical changes of pregnancy would affect me.    I always thought pregnancy would be the one time I would not worry about my weight, and it’s just the opposite.  I’m trawling pregnancy fashion websites like it’s a new career (which I suppose it kind of is) in an attempt to maintain (and flatter) myself in an unfamiliar body.

Isabella Oliver. Too much tummy; too much money.

The other thing I realized is that I’m not, at least not right now, a sentimental mommy to be.  The expression bundle of joy kind of makes me gag.  Little blankets with cartoonish animals made of flannel make me wonder if it isn’t too late to change my mind.  I’m thinking grey and black as a nursery theme (ok, maybe not…).  At an ultrasound we told the doctor the little person looked a bit like an alien; we’re calling me The Host.  I think the most common expression on my face these days is one of total confused bewilderment.  And maybe a bit of panic.  How did I get here?  Which is ironic, considering.

Uh, no.

I’m figuring out what kind of mommy I want to be. Or don’t want to be.  Probably not the one who dresses their children like dolls, who showcases and publicizes them in some idyllic photo shopped setting.  Maybe it’s because our pregnancy journey felt so external, so public, that now I’m just trying to recover as much privacy and intimacy as I can.  And while I don’t want to be the mom who grows her own organic baby food and who sanitizes every surface her child will touch, I am starting to have opinions on things- secret, stupid little principles about how I’d like to raise this little person, which will probably fly out the window in the face of reality.  I’m learning the girl who likes to have it all under control is going to have to ask for help.  A lot of it.  From my mother in law, no less.

Just. not. there. yet.

In a flurry of nursery images and lullabies and baby emporiums and bumptastic fashion and layette listings, both physically and mentally, I find myself fighting to define some core sense of the real me in all this.  It’s silly, I know.  Useless too.  People keep telling me motherhood is going to change me, and I’ve no doubt about that (and probably no real sense of the totality of it either) even as I push against it.  It’s like I’m bobbing on the mommy-to-be wave, which is a whole other kind of nausea than the one they talk about.

But I’ll be okay. More than okay.   I can see the shore four months ahead and however rocky the ride, underneath all the sarcasm and angst and posh pregnancy frocks, it is holding me strong and steady.

Ready or not, here I come.


18 thoughts on “In Great Expectation

  1. As the token Mothersugar Mommy (not for long!), I feel so excited to be the first to respond to this post. Congratulations – I hope you know how excited we are for you. For the record you seem to be taking it all in stride and to be exceedingly reasonable about all of this.

    I remember being pregnant with my first and feeling a sense of detachment too. I think that it’s too hard to wrap your head around what this will really mean for you. I found that the only thing I could do was to focus on the pregnancy and to focus on the stuff that a baby needs – the actual raising of baby seemed too foreign. You have been focused on conceiving and pregnancy for so long that I can imagine that you might feel more detached than I did.

    I hope you can find some joy in pregnancy and in your pregnant body. You look beautiful right now. Wholly beautiful! Some unsolicited advice – enjoy your body now because it is going to get bad. Just wait until you have given birth and your firm beautiful tummy is just loose skin. The good news is that you will have this lovely little person who draws ALL of the attention. No one will notice you or your figure for a few months.

    I’m not sure how much motherhood changes people. I’d question that. Perhaps someone observing mothers would be better to answer that. Did I change? I don’t think so. Maybe being a mother just intensifies who you are. Being a new mom is intense – emotionally, physically, spiritually. I suppose we all become slightly less self-focused, at least for a while.

    Oh BEZ, there are so many things I would love to tell you. I want to gush at you with advice but I’m trying really hard to just let it be. My experience is not yours and I know that. I know you have many, many mommies in your life who will share things with you. That being said, if you want to, I am happy to talk about all of the gory details. And when it sucks, (cause at some point it will) I hope you feel like you can call just to vent.

    • It’s a good thing I have you on skype dial and bloggerphone as there are many things I will need to know as time goes by!! I will always take advice from you. I was given a book the other day of ‘birth stories’. It’s taken me a few weeks to peek into it. Not the kind of thing to read before bed…

      It seems many of the moms commenting agree with you- perhaps motherhood does not change you as ‘reveals you’. That’s scary, if you’re me. But I’ll live. Thank you for such a generous comment. i’m excited to join in on the mommy ride!

  2. I promise you, you never have to fall in love with the baby-ish stuff. They get out of the pastel blah blah blahs before you know it. Thank god.
    I agree with the comment above. There are a million things that I could say about being a mom, but they could totally be the opposite of your experience. It’s different for everyone! But enjoy it when you can, and know that the weight goes away eventually. And so do the stupid cartoons. Or at least I hope the cartoons do. I’m ready to push Dora off a bridge…

  3. A big congratulations on your impending motherhood! Thank you for sharing not only your great news, but your feelings of “how did I get here?” So many women make pregnancy out to be this wonderful time of life where the sun always shines and everything is blissful. I find more relatability to stories like this because I imagine pregnancy is a pretty frightening time. You’re constantly being told you can’t do this and you can’t eat that. People everywhere are throwing in their two cents about what kind of parent you should be or vetoing the names you’ve picked out. I’ve never been pregnant, but I can only imagine how stressed I will be someday. Just remember that you are about to embark on the most rewarding (as I’ve been told) journey of your life. Feel free to be excited or scared or anxious or worried or impatient or any other feeling that you may have, but never forget the love that got you to this point and will carry you throughout life.

    • Yes, there is a whole discussion to be had about the way in which ‘society’ (mothers, websites, parents, grandparents) control the body of a pregnant woman. What’s been super interesting is how much more strident the ‘do’s and don’ts’ are in North American culture than here in Europe, where things seem to be, not more lax, but relaxed. I actually like the balance of the two, they keep me in check. But it can be overwhelming, and I’m glad to be a bit older to be able to see through all that. Thanks Jessica, for such a lovely comment.

  4. Congratulations on being on your way to becoming a mum! Thanks for being so honest in this post. I had wanted to be pregnant what felt like my whole life, but for most of my pregnancy with my twins I really started freaking out, I was so sick and exhausted-being pregnant really didn’t feel like what I imagined it to be. I didn’t feel glowing in the slightest! I think when there’s so much emphasis on those two lines appearing, it’s easy to feel detached when you do get the result you’re after. However, post pregnancy, I do miss the feeling of two little beings inside me and watching my tummy grow : ) I agree with the first comment- motherhood doesn’t change who you are, it just intensifies everything! All the best for the rest of your journey!

  5. Congratulations! An amazing time, am cruising to week 23 myself and was frankly relieved to see someone else saying that – without taking anything away from how fortunate it is to (finally) be pregnant- the changes that happen to your physical appearance can be emotionally stressful in their own way….
    Other commenters with a better perspective on this than I question whether or not becoming a mom changes who you are, and I admit that even at this early stage I do agree with them, as pregnant women we are on the way to being privileged enough to share who we are with a whole new person who, at least to begin with, will look to us for everything

    • so, some first lady said that being president reveals who you are, and I thought the same thing about motherhood. Maybe it doesn’t change us, but reveals. Which, is in some ways a little terrifying, as there are parts that I would definitely like to hide!! Congratulations to you as well! I tend to view this whole thing in segments- how I feel about my vanity and body is separate from how I feel about the little one growing. I find it helps to categorize the emotions sometimes. And then when that’s done, put it all together again so that there is some perspective. This way, I can whine and still be grateful.

  6. I must say, BeZ (because I’ve already gushed in other ways), that I laughed hysterically and out loud at that terrible, terrible pink-and-zebra nursery design, and at your caption. Lord, no. I recently hosted a little baby shower for my business partner, and the volume of pastel quilts full of little cartoon animals was really quite shocking. Your babe, on the other hand, will be thankful that you started him/her off so stylishly.

    • apparently there is actually some science behind a zebra print nursery; since a baby can’t immediately see color, they are stimulated by black and white. Still, that’s a lot of stimulation!!!

      i remain inspired and grateful for your pin board… let me say it like that. And oh, how lucky is your business partner to be given a shower by such a fabulous visionary like yourself. It’s the one thing I like to feel sorry for myself for- all my friends are too spread out for a physical shower. Maybe we’ll have to pin me a shower board of virtual cakes and virtual balloons and virtual pinks and blues….

  7. Pingback: The Joys of Pregnancy « Life As Mom Knows It

  8. Congratulations BZ on your present state of twoness 🙂 I have watched/heard many of my friends go through similar concerns and feelings (especially the horror of the possibility of the pastel cartoon world invading their homes :)) and they all said that they wished that more people had talked about these happy yet mixed feelings. It’s important to note that all of them, without exception, grew to love their journeys – even when the road was pink and littered with giggle me Elmo’s – eventually the road has evened out again and become more familiar – with the added bonus that they now have a self-made friend to talk to. I wish you all the best. Ooooh, speaking of cartoon characters – are you going to put one of those wooden storks on your front lawn with the name of the baby on it when he/she is born (they do this in the Netherlands – I presume Belgium is similar)? You could always paint some zebra stripes on it and throw in a splash of pink 🙂

    • The custom in belgium seems to be the backside of a stork attached to a window, as if it has crashed into the window with a couple of bright orange sacks the bear the name of the self made friend. it’s pretty funny.

      thank you Bellacanto.

  9. I am so excited and happy for you! I wanted to say that you look truly beautiful. And I’m not saying this to be nice or because I think I should but because I was struck by it when I saw you last and I think you should know.

    I also relate to how totally bizarre it must be to witness your body changing and yes – growing. I like to think I’m not vain, but I know putting on a lot of weight (even for such a good cause!) would be – an adjustment – let’s say (cut to image of me crying in front of a mirror). Also, for me, the idea that my body wouldn’t really be entirely mine anymore. As it’s been said above – everyone’s got an opinion on what you should be eating and doing, not to mention the fact that you’ve got another person camped inside you who will feed from you literally and metaphorically even after they aren’t inside you anymore is a bit of a head trip.

    One has to embrace it all I guess and just enjoy the ride! And if I were you, I wouldn’t worry so much about what might be revealed in becoming a mother – you’re a pretty amazing lady!

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