On this Labour Day Monday of my first-ever pregnancy, it’s time for some true confessions. Despite having read nearly every reputable book on pregnancy (and a handful of really stupid ones) this third trimester business has completely and totally caught me off guard.
I suppose I believed that because my first and second trimesters were a breeze, I would sail through this entire experience feeling like I had sunshine blazing out of my ass. Like I had been somehow blessed by the goddess of fertility who had granted mercy on me and helped me avoid all of the usual symptoms. I’m telling you friends, this is no longer the case.
Everything you’ll read about pregnancy will tell you that you “may” feel “some discomfort” in the third trimester. Not one single source (except for a girlfriend or two) has told me that my body would feel like it as been hijacked and that I’m trapped somewhere deep inside my head watching it waddle, lurch, bump, and heave it’s way through the next two months. They warned me, but I felt so good and I was so happy, I didn’t think it could happen to me.
DISCLAIMER: In no way should the following words be interpreted as ungrateful, or as a sign that I hate pregnancy. (This should give you an idea of the kind of guilt I feel complaining so publicly about this miracle that is happening, and frankly I think having to feel guilty at all is some kind of bullshit!)
My third trimester sucks. There’s nothing delightful or magical about what is happening right now. I do not feel radiant. I do not feel sexy. I do not even really feel like myself. Some of you moms out there are reading this and thinking, “Well yeah, what did you expect?” But honestly, did you know how you would feel once your body succumbed to all of the symptoms described as possibilities in your pregnancy books? Were you seriously able to take it all in stride?
I’m going to bet you didn’t chuckle merrily at your ENORMOUS feet and entirely vanished ankles. It’s entirely likely that you didn’t find it funny every time you squatted down and got stuck there, only able to rise again by shifting slowly to your hands and knees and curling up (or hoisting yourself up by yanking on the freezer handle to then be concussed by a cascade of toppling sunscreen bottles). If you tell me you enjoyed feeling like you have to pee every moment of the day (and often peeing when you’d rather not be) I will straight up call you a liar. And nobody, not nobody enjoys the experience of having a fart squeak out and then being unsure if it actually even came from you in the first place.
Up until now I have loved being pregnant, and there are still days (or at least portions of days) where I can really savor the feeling of having this little being inside of me, but I’m now mostly frustrated at my inability to do so many things that used to be quite simple. The first seven months literally flew by, but now it seems as though time is suspended. Last night in one of my daily crying jags (this particular one was not a moment of happy tears) I think I nailed why this has become so challenging. I’m a control freak, and I’m realizing I’m not in control anymore. My inability to accept my limitations is now making me fearful that I won’t be able to handle the rigors of labour!
I think if there were more focus on the spiritual side of being pregnant, this would be easier to take. (If more books examined the sacred power and mythology of pregnancy instead of focusing so heavily on the experience as a medical condition, for example.) Imagine if we were taught to really embrace the experience of losing control and having something much greater than us at work in our bodies? Then maybe we would know to just sit back and relinquish control knowing how temporary this all is, and how the end result (beautiful baby) is our reward for our discomfort.
Maybe this feeling of no longer driving the ship is perfect training for labour when trying to hold on to any semblance of being in charge is the worst thing we can do. Maybe when I wake at 4 am because my pelvis is aching from sleeping on only one side I can breathe and relax and trust that in a matter of weeks that feeling will be replaced by not sleeping because I’m feeding the little soul I have created.
Maybe I can try to have faith that even if I don’t like what’s happening; my body knows exactly what it’s doing. That some ancient feminine wisdom is guiding me through the next chapter of this pregnancy and simply being a vessel for that wisdom makes me blessed and strong (instead of awkward and incapable). Maybe learning to embrace this loss of control is the best training for motherhood I could ever ask for.