Thursday, February 23, 2012

This unforgettable moment

It’s not often that I stop to marvel at this surreal, emotional, amazing journey called pregnancy.

In fact, I’m already in my ninth month and finally made the time to pull my thoughts together into something that sort of makes sense. I’ve been keeping a journal and updating it weekly with our little milestones for my daughter to read when she’s older, but those fragmented entries do little to explain the whole story. That’s what I want to do now.

First off, pregnancy is the exact opposite of what I expected it to be.

Not once did I have morning sickness, crave weird foods or suffer from wild mood swings. I never had that feeling of “butterflies” where I knew there was magic inside me, and I never even felt pregnant until my second trimester when I felt movement.

My lack of symptoms was highly unnerving for about the first 20 weeks, when I had little proof – other than hearing that tiny little heartbeat – that there was actually a baby in there. It’s amazing how you can still be in disbelief, even with concrete proof in front of you.

My eagerness to start “showing” turned into an exercise in patience. Any first-time mom who proudly boasts her 12-week or even 14-week “bump” is severely delusional and needs to lay off the cupcakes, because that is most definitely not a baby bump.

Thinking back to the very beginning, it’s a wonder that I even bought a pregnancy test on that July afternoon. If the fine folks at the Dollar Tree didn’t place them right at the cash register, I might have ended up with the rest of the ding-a-lings on “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.”

The only reason I bought the test was out of habit, because we had been trying to conceive for nine months. Just for good measure, I took a test every month no matter what. Every time, I would anxiously watch the results develop on the stick before tossing the negative results into the trash. It was a routine.

I got so good at the routine after a while, that I decided to multi-task this time. I dutifully did my part, then did the dishes, some laundry, got ready to go out to dinner, sent a few texts and quickly glanced at the test before tossing it out.

As soon as I saw the double lines, I told myself it couldn’t be true. I told myself not to get excited because it was probably wrong. You would think my first instinct would be to jump for joy, but surprisingly, I just felt skeptical and unworthy.

First of all, I’m obviously going to second-guess a Dollar Tree test. That’s just a given.

And second of all, how could it be this easy? Aren’t things supposed to be harder, like for all of the 30 and 40-something couples who try desperately and never get pregnant?

I can’t explain why, because I still don’t understand it myself, but I will never forget the extreme feeling of guilt I had at the beginning. It’s totally unfounded because my husband and I are young, healthy, happy newlyweds who planned this baby and 100 percent deserve her.

The guilt came completely out of left field. I just felt undeserving of this baby because not everyone who wants one gets one, and it’s just not fair. My heart was bursting with happiness for me and my husband, but breaking for everyone who will never know how it feels.

Of course, the initial test was followed up with more expensive name-brand tests and visits to the doctor to get on track with prenatal care. We weren’t supposed to hear the heartbeat until my 18-week appointment, but we cheated with a home Doppler and heard it around 12 weeks or so. I still felt like I was in disbelief about the pregnancy, but this brought me a little closer to reality.

As far as my husband’s reaction to becoming a daddy, all I can say is that men are a peculiar species. He has been completely supportive and is over the moon about having a little girl, but it’s just not the same for men. I think it will become real for him when he holds her in his arms, but right now, the idea a little hard for him to grasp. Even for me, the baby seems like an abstract, faraway concept – although we know she will become very real very soon.

After what seemed like ages, we found out her gender at 18 weeks. I was ecstatic to find out that we were having a girl, and I’ve never seen my husband smile so big. This was a huge turning point for us, as we could finally stop calling her “it” and start imagining the future with our daughter in it.

The rest of my second trimester and most of my third trimester have been a snooze-fest. Aside from monthly checkups, shopping for nursery furniture and decorating the room, nothing too exciting happened for a while.

I started feeling some movement probably around 20 weeks, kind of like popcorn kernels popping, but the really strong kicks didn’t start until about 32 weeks. At that point, I could feel her and see my tummy move at the same time. This experience is almost impossible to describe, and probably for good reason, because it’s a special connection that only a mother and her baby can share.

We got our first good look at baby Addison during a 3D ultrasound at 28 weeks. This, too, was indescribable because she’s just so beautiful and perfect. It was completely surreal to see this fully-functioning little human on the screen, knowing that she’s inside of me. I have my favorite photo of her as the background on my phone, and I find myself hitting the “home” button when I’m bored, just to stare at her.

The bulk of my third trimester flew by as I shopped, washed baby clothes, put things away and was showered with more gifts from loved ones. It’s exhausting to take inventory on what we have, determine what we need, clip coupons and shop around for deals. The amount of stuff you need for a newborn baby is pretty ridiculous, if you ask me.

I always thought I’d be annoyed by people touching my tummy, but it actually hasn’t been so bad. The only annoying part of my third trimester has been persistent back pain and difficulty breathing when I move around too much – or at all, sometimes.

The aches and pains really aren’t that bad though. They just remind me that we’re getting closer to the end of this chapter, and closer to starting the most important chapter of our lives.

I could write a whole separate essay on marriage. But for now, I’ll just say that I cannot wait to see how our relationship will grow and change as we become parents. Imagining my husband as a daddy is almost as exciting as imagining myself as a mommy. Neither of us know what the heck we’re doing, but we both have so much to give and teach her. I can’t wait to see things all over again through her eyes, and make new memories as a family.

I’m just weeks away from my due date now, and there is little left to do but think. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, but most of them center on labor and delivery. Beyond that, I figure we’ll just learn as we go.

It’s not often that I stop to marvel at the crazy, challenging, unpredictable journey called parenthood that lies ahead of us.

But in this moment, I feel infinitely blessed to start the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Awe, Ash. This is a beautiful blog! I tell you, I am living vicariously through you but your experience and adorable pregnant body makes me want to sport one of those myself! I was thrilled to know you guys were going to try and when Todd told me when you guys got married that the journey would begin a.s.a.p, I was super excited... and I honestly can say I had no friggen' idea why you guys wanted to go out to eat last year when you told me, so that was a huge surprise and I reacted a little too big for Todd's liking... and I honestly didn't expect to cry! LOL

    I am completely excited to see my brother become a father and I am eternally grateful that you are the woman to give him this honor. There are plenty of things you and I don't share a common interest in but there are also an alarming number of things we do have in common... and I see in myself a nurturing and loving person and I see the same in you. You're nervous to be the best new-Mommy but I know you'll be amazing at it. Addison is going to be very lucky to have such a beautiful, intelligent, and devoted Mother. She is also going to be incredibly lucky to have such a goof of a Dad; until her teenage years for awhile.. ;)

    I am so very anxious to meet my niece and could not have asked God for a better person to bring her into our family. THANKS!!!!!!!!