Today marks the start of the the fourteenth week of this pregnancy, which means I am officially into the second trimester. Right on cue, as the first semester ended, I shook off the cloud of exhaustion and hazy thinking that kept me in bed for the entire month of December and have rejoined the land of the living, doing really impressive things like “the dishes,” “walking to work,” and “being upright for more than twenty minutes a day.” Right now, my PhD requires a ton of thinking, strategizing, and article reading, and I was very concerned two weeks ago, when peeling myself out of my jammies to take a shower seemed an insurmountable task. It’s nice to have my brain back. I guess I should enjoy this brief reprieve, because according to my (many) pregnancy apps, I’ve got a good 14 weeks before things get rough again.
So, I’m feeling much better, despite the fact that I am edging ever closer to not being able to wear to my favorite jeans anymore. Luckily, it’s winter and I can hide the fact that I’m busting out of my pants under lots of giant sweaters.
Now that I am briefly normalizing, you’d think I might not worry as much. If you thought that, you’d be mistaken (and I’d assume you were new around here). Do you want to know what the most terrifying thing about being pregnant is?
I’ve only known for about two months, and I’ve already had enough emotional breakdowns to last for years. Apparently, perpetually being on high alert is something that never goes away. It’s from now to always. (Yay!) To paraphrase something Fertile Myrtle told me as I panicked by myself in a Cardiff hotel room (after I’d known for three days, but was still trapped on my work trip), “you spend your entire pregnancy hoping that your child will be born, and then the rest of their lives wishing you could have them back inside you.”
Because, I’m learning, making a person is a tremendously stressful journey into the unknown, where any myriad of things could go wrong. According to every parent I have ever spoken to ever, this is only amplifies when your child is born, because then it’s not just your body that you have to side-eye and worry about constantly – it’s everything in the whole world for the rest of your life. It is all out to get your child and you just have to accept that.
In our family mythology, my mother is known for being an over-reactive hypochondriac who never let me touch the ground or eat dirt or walk barefoot in parks (because: germs, parasites, and used hypodermic needles). My brothers and I were made to wear water shoes (the kind with thick, grippy soles designed for hiking in rivers) into the ocean on beach days until we were teenagers. My grandparents and great aunts would tell, and continue to tell, stories of my mom’s seemingly incomprehensible desire to keep me, the first-born, and later my two brothers, hermetically sealed against the terrors of the world. SHE IS SO NUTTY, they would all say.
When I was 14 and wearing too-small, bright pink water booties to the beach, I wanted to tear her apart.
As an adult woman currently pregnant with my own child, I am buying stock in water booties. And helmets. And vaccines.
That is, assuming I make it through the next six months of panic and actually have the opportunity to raise the first baby in a bubble.