Following what feels like the gestation period of an African elephant, I’m ripe and ready for birthing!
After my miscarriage in 2016 I couldn’t see a way through to where I am now, I was lost in a fog of grief with seemingly no end in sight. Now, at nine months pregnant and content with a son moving around in my belly, I look back and wish I could grab that sad lady by the shoulders, and tell her she’ll feel alive on the inside once again. In truth I spent the first few months of this pregnancy swinging from joy and elation to sadness and paralysing fear. I desperately tried not to become too attached to the idea of another baby, just in case. I smiled and made the appropriate noises when I spoke about it, but on the inside was a cold determination to protect my heart. You see, no one really speaks about the emotions that come with the pregnancy after the one that ended without a baby.
I know that I’m lucky to be here, about to give birth, but the truth is: this pregnancy has taken it’s toll on me in so many ways. And while I am grateful, I’m also worn out. Which almost feels like a betrayal to my baby to say out loud, but there you have it.
I’ve been challenged many times on how I see myself as a woman and a Mother.
I like to be in control, that’s no secret to anyone. I like to know what’s going to happen and when, so that I can brace myself for the fallout, be it good or bad. It’s an anxiety coping mechanism, I know that. When you’re pregnant your body goes completely rogue. It assumes the biological autopilot position and you’re left clinging on for dear life. You’re reduced to being a passenger on board your own body, with nothing left to do but sit and stare out the window as each change occurs:
“Oh look – another stretch mark!”
“Someone pass me the nail clippers, I’ve got thirteen new skin tags between my thighs!”
“Over there, a haemorrhoid is squeezing it’s way out of my anus – STUNNING!”
All the while, people expect you to smile and wave because that’s what us preggos are meant to do. It makes others uncomfortable if we’re not happily nesting, rubbing our growing stomachs and generally being maternal as fuck.
I’ve had to stop doing a lot of the things I love and have become a low-key hermit. My friends haven’t seen me in months, and I’ve stopped performing and working as my body wasn’t coping with my lifestyle. In other words, I’ve had to hand my entire person over to this pregnancy, and that has challenged the ambitious, sassy business lady in me enormously.
I’m both terrified and in awe of the ways in which my body has changed and adapted over the past thirty seven weeks. Women’s bodies are miraculous things. There have been times where I’ve caught myself feeling worried or repulsed by what’s occurred to me physically. It’s hard not to when your previously B cup breasts now nestle themselves snuggly inside a D cup, and when set free, rest atop your growing stomach like two giant, mono-nippled Jabba The Huts. And when lifted for aeration, they have the surface temperature of ‘centre court at the Australian Open’ degrees celsius underneath. On these occasions, I’ve mostly been able to remind myself that there’s a human life growing inside of me. A whole new person to come into the world, created by the factory of my body… and then I just worry about that instead of the cellulite on the side of my knees.
I wanted to say to any woman who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or may one day want to be pregnant; it’s okay at times to feel stress, anger and pain when you’re up the duff. Society is really only comfortable with us pretending that this is the happiest time of our lives when sometimes, it’s not! I mean, I was promised there would be ‘glowing’, and yet the only sheen coming off me has been sweat.
That all being said, as I head into my final weeks of pregnancy, I say thank you to my body for what it has achieved. I’ve been hard on her more times than I care to admit, but what a bloody marvel it is to have done this thing. Instead of criticising my thighs, skin and everything in between, I say thank you for growing thighs, skin and everything in between. I say in my best Osher Günsberg voice: We’re at the pointy end of the competition, the summit of the mountain, the finish line of the marathon and now more than ever you need to go softly into each day.
Most days, I sit in the nursery imagining what’s to come. I’m bursting to meet this child and once again experience those magical first few days that only a newborn can bring. I let that warm feeling spread through my bones, and it feels good to allow that to happen.
Thanks for coming on the journey with me friends, I feel like this has been a communal pregnancy of sorts. Your words of encouragement, gifts and well wishes have kept me going.
Let the next chapter begin: Current day Em with a baby!
What does that look like? I have no idea but I know there will be plenty of tears, bodily fluid and some bad behaviour – and that’s obviously just me.