Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

I’m Not Really Complaining… December 7, 2012

“Let me know if you need a massage,” a girlfriend asked me yesterday.

“I don’t think you’d want to massage my vagina,” I replied.

My husband would say that I have a low tolerance for pain; he was doubtful that I could go through with birthing our first daughter naturally and medication-free because of how much I complained about the smallest things. Paper cuts and pregnancy are different than birthing. Complaining gets you nowhere when you’re in labor, but it helps me out in other instances.

Similar to saying aloud, “I’m embarrassed,” after tripping in front of a crowd, I will say, “my pelvis aches” to my classmates when they see me waddling around. It brings a sense of acknowledgement to the way I’m feeling and it helps me to be at ease with my discomfort.

31 Weeks

Today – 30 Weeks

People think I’m trying to be funny when I refer to my fetuses as parasites, but what better name for them is there? I love my unborn daughter, but she is just a little bit selfish. I don’t think she really cares how I feel about the way she sucks the nutrients from my body and then jabs her feet into my stomach so that it’s impossible to eat. She doesn’t consider how I might take offense to the pain in my pelvis being a result of the position of her spine.

Oh no, things are right fine on the inside. She has her xylophone –my ribcage, she has her trampoline –my bladder, she even has a nifty place to store her phalanges –my belly button. I’m thinking that she won’t take too kindly to hugs because every Braxton Hicks contraction incites a brutal fight between her extremities and my organs. I wish she could understand me when I tell her that I don’t like the contractions either, but they occur for her benefit.

So yeah, pregnancy is not walk in the park. It’s a waddle wherever you are after 30 weeks, and it’s going to take two to three times longer to reach your destination safely.  I’m trying my hardest to stop picking up my other two daughters as much, it’s no longer convenient to have a washer and dryer in the basement, and it takes me several minutes to walk from the front seat of my mini-van to the back to strap the girls in and then back to the front to start driving.

I’m not complaining. Not really. I know that this will all pay off in a matter of weeks (when the pain strengthens in intense waves repeatedly, peaks, and then tapers off through days of afterbirth cramps). Someday I will hold my third daughter, in all her innocent and chubby glory. I will gradually forget the discomfort I felt while she grew inside of me, and years from now I will crave this experience again.

Tonight, however, I will pout a little and ice my vagina.


Woe Is Pregnancy October 12, 2012

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.

37 weeks – 2007

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.


We Three Ladies Plus Baby July 23, 2012

I waited until I was nine weeks pregnant to tell my daughters about Baby # 3. They were going through so many changes already, and I didn’t know how the news would affect them. Amara took it so wonderfully that she made me happier to be pregnant. Terra said bluntly, “I don’t want a boy.”

The baby has become a part of our daily lives already. Amara eagerly awaits the bi-weekly emails to arrive that describe the fetus’ current developments and compare its size to fruits and vegetables. Terra will kiss and talk to my belly sporadically.

We visited the How Your Life Began exhibit at the Museum of Science, and read an array of books on conception, the human body, and being a sibling. The girls are full of questions: when will the baby be here? how will the baby behave? what can we teach the baby? how frequently will the baby nurse? will the baby be a brother or a sister?

I plan to take them with me to my 20 week prenatal appointment (infamous for the ultrasound where I’ll be able to find out the baby’s sex). Choosing between the earthy, lyrical, well-planned girl child’s name and the stock first boy child’s name, Tyler, was a birthing surprise the first two times. This pregnancy, however, I am incredibly anxious to find out whether or not I am expecting a boy.

A boy would mean more research, more clothing, more fretting over being a single mom and the uncertainty of properly raising up a young man. On the other hand, I’m already dealing with the uncertainty of properly raising up two young women. I suppose in both respects a mother does the best she can. This baby will be my last, and although I’d be happy with a healthy baby regardless of its sex, I would love to experience raising a son (much to Terra’s chagrin).

I love that the girls are so interactive with my pregnancy. I thought that being single and pregnant would be the most horrible thing, and it certainly has its low points, but although there is no one to give me massages (or be the target of my annoyance with the, thus far, 12 weeks of constant nausea and fatigue) there are two little girls who love me, who hug me daily and already show their love for our baby-to-be. They tell me I look beautiful when I least expect it, they help around the house whenever they can, and they joyfully join me in all things baby preparation. I may be single, but I am not alone on this journey, and I rather enjoy the company.