My daughters are three and five, so my pregnancies with them seem fairly recent, but after giving birth I always gloss over how annoying pregnancy can be.
I remember the births vividly. I have no delusions about the consuming feat of labor and delivery; how much energy it takes to breathe easy through hard-hitting waves of contractions; the terrible tricks of transition. I remember well why they call it the “ring of fire” when baby is crowning, but I also remember the sheer joy and immeasurable humility of having a baby glide through my bones.
It was those subtler, constant and consuming pregnancy nuisances that I completely minimized in memory.
I remember complaining about the pain in my ribs. I don’t remember feeling like I was being pulled apart. There is a continual strain coming from my rib cage. It feels as though my ribs are being stretched to all sides and that the seven layers of skin holding them in might not prove strong enough.
I remember the pelvic pain and feeling pressure. I don’t remember waddling at 23 weeks because the aching in my pelvis is so strong that it hurt to put my legs together. I don’t remember there being so much pressure in my vagina that it hurt to sit down. I’m carrying around unfamiliar, weak, sore and swollen pieces of me.
I remember the practice contractions. I don’t remember being squeezed to the point where breathing becomes difficult. I don’t remember holding the bottom of my bump in a futile attempt to keep the pressure from affecting my bladder. I don’t remember being worried that they are strong enough to be a sign of preterm labor. And then, of course, I stress that it’s my stress level causing the contractions, which inevitably continues the cycle.
None of these discomforts are the same as true labor. I can handle that. When I’m in labor I am in my element, totally present, focused on creating the most peaceful earth-side entrance for my baby as possible. No screaming, no crying, no complaining, no drugs. It’s different when I’m in labor; the end is so near, and my mental commitment to staying relaxed throughout the process helps to keep things progressing positively. Pregnancy, however, is a lingering stretch of vexation, a waiting game, leading up to the day where the pain all accumulates, amplifies, and finally, finally pays off.
I’ve only got..17 more weeks of waiting…17 more weeks of rib-splitting, kicked-in-the-crotch feeling, Braxton Hicks contracting joyous pregnancy.