I never thought much about what it would be like to be pregnant when I decided to have a baby. I was more focused on the outcome than that nine months leading up to delivery. Pregnancy was an afterthought, that is, until it became my reality. When I actually did get pregnant, I hated pregnancy, and nothing anyone said about the beauty of creating life could convince me otherwise.
From the very beginning, before I could even take a pregnancy test, I was overcome with nausea. I found very quickly that “morning sickness” was a misnomer, and a more appropriate description would have been “constantly nauseous and can’t function sickness.” I would spend all day trying to force myself to eat little bits of bland food, thrown into a fit of nausea by a mere poster of Chinese food I would pass on my way to work.
I couldn’t look at raw meat. I became murderous and had to lock myself in my bedroom when my in-laws surprised us with a dinner of fast food fried chicken. I would obsessively crave a food for a week, then be disgusted by it the next. I’d think I wanted to eat something, then lose my appetite by the time it was cooked. Or I’d eat something that looked good in the moment, then run to the bathroom to throw up mid-meal.
I didn’t have a pregnancy glow, instead I was adorned with more pimples than a teenage boy. My energy level was low. My baby, once larger, jammed his feet constantly into my ribcage. My back ached. I slept poorly. I spent nine months counting down the weeks, then days, until it might possibly be over. I didn’t appreciate the tremendous feat my body was achieving. I just wanted it to end.
My first two pregnancies were spent in constant unhappiness over the state of being pregnant. I moaned and groaned to anyone who would listen – mostly my captive husband. Then, when I became pregnant for a third time, everything changed.
I had an inkling that I was pregnant for a couple weeks before I took a test. I had been picky about eating much other than cold cereal. I was bloating far more than normal. I was unusually tired. Sure enough, I was pregnant.
Then a few days later, I wasn’t.
My first miscarriage caught me completely off guard, forcing myself to reexamine the way I felt about pregnancy. When we decided that we were going to try again, I didn’t approach pregnancy with indifference or irritability. I was afraid of an outcome previously inconceivable to me. I was afraid of not being pregnant.
But soonafter I did become pregnant again. I got some mild nausea, which tapered off as the weeks went on. My symptoms weren’t severe. And 12 weeks in, I found out that I had miscarried this baby also.
That’s when I realized how much I regretted hating my previous pregnancies and their symptoms. Sure I was uncomfortable, but my babies had been safe and nurtured, something I wasn’t sure my body was capable of anymore. When we tried one last time, I promised myself I would appreciate pregnancy, all the aches and pains, all the discomfort and nausea, if only it meant that my baby would stay with me.
For the first time, I really wanted to be pregnant, to experience the grips of morning sickness and the lethargy – because I knew it would mean that the pregnancy was strong. I spent the early weeks of that (now fifth) pregnancy in all-consuming anxiety. I felt a wave of relief each time I got sick – a swell of happiness when I could barely swing my legs out of bed in the morning.
As my pregnancy went on, and became more clearly viable, I was sure to appreciate the process. To appreciate that my body wasn’t betraying me in the way it had before. To appreciate the discomfort that came with a healthy pregnancy. I was even more careful to appreciate birth, in all it’s pain and glory, because I knew how easily I could have not made it to that stage, to have never held another baby in my arms again. My miscarriages helped me love my pregnancy, even through the misery.