Sunday, September 26, 2010

23 and Pregnant

This has been an interesting 5 months in the Hastings' home.  The biggest news in our lives is that I, Rachel, am pregnant with our first child!  

I've been conspicuously absent from the blogging world due to a 2 month stint of perpetual morning sickness (which, by the way, is by no means confined to morning hours).  

During the months of August and September (as the nausea abated a bit), I rebuilt my chaotic personal life, friendships, and home.  Sadly, the blog was just one of those last priorities, but I think it's time to reenter the blogging world. 

I figured I'd begin with a post about some interesting aspects of pregnancy.  I imagine that at least SOME of you are curious about what it's like to be pregnant.  I mean, statistically, I'm very much a minority.  I'm a 23 year old married girl who is planning on raising a child in 2011 and beyond.  Crazy, right?

So, here's what I've learned thus far...

1) EVERYONE'S experience is different.  I have a great friend who is pregnant as well, and boy have we had COMPLETELY different pregnancies!  My friend hasn't been very sick during her pregnancy.  I, on the other hand, have probably thrown up more during a two month period than  I have in my entire life combined.  Furthermore, everyone has a suggestion of what worked to curb their nausea during pregnancy; those suggestions, by no means, are prescriptive suggestions.  You just can't put pregnancy into a strict formula...

2) Your body does strange things.  Seriously, if you have questions about this, ask me in private, because something tells me that I should not get into my bodily function issues on my blog.  But your gastrointestinal tract, bladder, stomach, and brain just do a lot of really really strange things.  And many times, those changes are uncomfortable and sometimes painful.  

The common factor, though, is that you're not in control of a single one of those changes.  Being young and healthy, this has been an interesting change for me, and I can't say I've dealt with it gracefully at all times.  People often laugh this concern off when I express it with them.  "But you're carrying such a wonderful miracle in you!"  they say.  And while theoretically I am very aware of this, it doesn't lessen the reality that I am out of control of my body.  

The implications of that truth have genuinely tested my paradigm.  Where do I place my value?  Is it in what I look like?  In other words, do I equate my value with what I look like and what I'm able to do?  Unfortunately, if I value myself because of my body shape or physical capability, my perceived value proves quite unstable, as it is contingent on outside circumstances.  

3) Pregnancy is a TWO person journey.  I know there are plenty of single moms out there, and I honestly don't know how they do it.  You are my heroes; my respect for you is just out of this world.  

If I didn't have Matt here, I think I would have just curled up in fetal position and given up.  There are days where he'd come home and my day pretty much consisted of me laying on the couch holding my stomach in pain.  No housework done, no shopping done, no dinner planned.  So, after a nice 8 hour day, Matt then played housewife.  

I really don't have the ability to overstate the contribution Matt made to our partnership during those rough months of nausea.  It was really a time where Matt had to give 200% because I was giving 0%.  But, being on the other side of that dark season now, my respect for Matt's character has grown exponentially.  He's a good guy.  

4) Do the research yourself.  Really, don't get me started on this one.  This is my soapbox of note.  I am an avid researcher, so I had been researching pregnancy and birth well before I was pregnant (Sept./Oct. 2009).  

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone because I've literally watched the motherhood and pregnancy articles that pepper mainstream news transform before my eyes.  How is it that no more than a year ago, once you'd had a C-Section, you'd always have a C-Section?  Now, though, the latest "research" is that it's actually BETTER for the majority of women to try to have a natural birth after they've had a C-Section?  Why, all of the sudden, is mainstream media taking an unprecedented interest in breast milk and its benefits over formula or skin to skin contact immediately after birth or the increased number of induced labors in America?  

I know many of those on the natural end of the spectrum would love to equate it to the many grassroots movements that promote natural ideology, but this research isn't groundbreaking or new.  Dr. Bradley, among others, has been saying this stuff since the '70s (Husband Coached Child Birth by Dr. Bradley is a great read, by the way).  

Sadly, I tend to subscribe to the philosophy from Aladdin that whoever has the gold makes the rules.  Whoever has the gold also spins the news.  More specifically, whoever has to fork over the gold for expensive medical procedures spins the news...and you can read into that whatever you'd like.  

The point of this all, however, is to just do the research yourself.  There's so much raw data and studies from decades of research available at your fingertips!  Don't just let someone else tell you how this entire pregnancy and birth thing is supposed to go down.  

and finally...

5) It's okay not to feel attached to this stranger in your belly.  I really struggled not feeling any emotional attachment to this baby.  I saw so many of my friends who were pregnant and they seemed so excited about their growing babies.  I honestly can't say that I feel like that. In one sense, I know there is this separate being growing inside of me, with a completely different volition than my own (I mean seriously, when I want to sleep, the baby wants to be awake.  Even now, I can't make this being do anything!), yet I don't feel any attachment to it.  

I felt rather worried, so I did what any mature, independent woman would do.  I called my mom.  Looks like you never stop needing a mom :)  She really eased my fears, telling me that she sort of felt the same way while she was pregnant with me but that once I was born, her mothering instincts kicked in.  That's good to know, because I don't feel very "instinctive" at this moment in time.  

So, I've sort of accepted my emotions toward the baby for what they are.  I'm not worried anymore that I don't feel like this baby is MY BABY.  I still wrestle with the idea of loving someone that I've never met before, but I don't expect myself to understand that yet.  

So that's what I've learned so far.  Take it or leave it.  It may have been completely different for you, or it may be completely different for you one day :)  

It's been a season of reevaluating my paradigm.  It's been a season where God has revealed Himself in new and very real ways (for me, unprecedented ways).  I wouldn't label it blissful or even enjoyable, but I would call it special, and I wouldn't trade it.