This post is written by me, the funny sister. Second, I am linking it to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.
This is my fourth pregnancy, which will – God willing – culminate in the birth of my fourth daughter. (Yes, the ultrasound was very clear. It’s a girl.) My pregnancies have spanned an entire decade, beginning just short of the new millennium and ending next year while I am still 30. I have been full term pregnant twice in the dead heat of summer, once in the allergy crazed North Carolina spring, and this time, I will give birth three weeks after welcoming in a wintry new year. I have had four good and easy pregnancies, so far three smooth and non complicated deliveries, and I am incredibly blessed with three (soon four) beautiful, healthy, vivacious, lovable children. My husband Mike and I have decided FOR SURE that this is our last child. So I am faced with the reality that this is definitely my last experience with “The Belly”. With that statement comes both sadness and glee – for ten interconnected reasons.
1. Eating and Drinking for Two
I have always enjoyed eating, and thanks to God and my genetics, I have never struggled with any serious weight problems. So its only that much more joyful when I can indulge my every whim and culinary mood while pregnant. After the first few months of thinking everything is slightly gross and spending, at best, a small portion of each day contemplating the tiles of the bathroom floor, the lucky pregnant ladies such as myself are ushered into a second and third trimester resplendent with milkshakes and honey mustard dipped chicken tenders… fistfuls of green olives and tangy cheese slices and hard boiled eggs bejeweled with salt…. juicy watermelon and seasonal strawberries (aren’t I healthy with the fruit?)…. thin crust pizza with puffy bubbles of crispy dough…. chocolate cake cut “just a little extra for the baby!” and gallons and gallons of cold, delicious, calcium rich milk. (chocolate syrup just makes it easier to drink the necessary 7 glasses a day, right?) No more low fat! That baby needs brain cells! No more cutting calories! That baby needs chubbiness! No more denying oneself the pleasures of one’s pallet. Shut up, you American Baby magazine, telling us that we don’t actually need to eat for two, and instead we only need to increase our caloric intake by one snack per day. Shut up, you doctors and nurses and midwives telling us we should not overdo the fast food or the rich desserts. We ARE eating for TWO! It’s the glorious carte blanche to stuff your face in public, the knowing grins and fond recognition of strangers to your “condition”. It’s approximately 7 months of doing what nearly ever woman dreams of… NOT CARING (too much) ABOUT WEIGHT!
The down side of the little food and beverage sucking leach nestled within? She gets tipsy pretty easily. So, for all the lushes out there… its kind of a bummer. Oh, sure, sure, once you pass that middle point, it’s socially acceptable to have a glass of wine – but, c’mon, how fun is that 4 oz dole of pleasure, really? I look forward to getting this baby out and getting some breast milk down her little throat and then knocking back a couple well deserved and celebratory vodka tonics. Ice from bottom to top and three juicy slices of lime awaiting my empty uterus. Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.
2. Maternity Clothes
I love the shirts that accentuate the graceful curve of belly, the cute tie back styles that say – even at 4 months pregnant – I’m carrying a child! Not a six pack of beer! I love the stretchy waist bands and freedom to let your mid section achieve its full and relaxed glory. I love the shirts that hide the love handles and adorn sweetly the plump package of growing baby.
But I hate the clothes, too. It seems like there is only about two weeks, somewhere between 7 and 8 months (for me) where anything actually fits perfectly. Although I have been VERY blessed to receive 90% of my maternity clothes as loans or gifts from others (thank you sisters, and friends of sisters, and friends) – no two pregnant women can wear all the same clothes, and it is many long months of finicky selections, pants that won’t stay up, shirts that look closer to gross than cute, and bras that beg for mercy. Which leads me to Reason 3.
3. The Body Changes
I love the belly. I do. Again, blessed by God and genetics, I don’t ever get “huge”. Even at 40 weeks, I still only look about 8 months pregnant (which can be something of a bummer when needing sympathy, because I FEEL 10 months pregnant) – so I love the belly. I love the smooth skin and the strong nails, I love the shiny hair and the months upon months of no period. I mean, ladies, let’s be real. Having no period for that whole time, plus while nursing, is totally awesome. And if you’re like me, and getting pregnant one right after another has my business since 2006, I will have nearly five consecutive years almost totally free of Aunt Flo. I love my body while pregnant… well… almost.
For those of your faithful readers who remember Katrina’s “Why I’m Not Weaning Post” from last week, you’ll recall her tales of tiny ta-tas and how they are enhanced nicely during pregnancy and nursing to a degree she (and her husband I woudl assume) finds… pleasant. However, for me, I can thank some quirk of distribution in the Tenny/Blake family female line of rack size – what God saw fit to withhold from Katrina, he saw fit to bestow upon me with liberality. I’ve always had more than I cared to cram behind a cami, and as soon as I see that white stick say that baby is on the way – I may as well pull out the straps and buckles to carry the swollen and gigantic Thelma and Louise as best as possible for the next year and a half. (This isn’t a nursing post, but when the milk comes, they give my boobs their own zip code…..each) So while Katrina has a figure that would make Kate Moss consider bariatric surgery, pregnancy just give me a chest that inspires Dolly Parton to shop in the training bra department.
4. The Heartburn
This is a mostly a bummer. While the vast majority of women experience some sort of heartburn or acid reflux while pregnant, I get it from the moment I start, until the moment I deliver. And its bad. With Lilia and Maddie, I had acid reflux so bad that if I didn’t take my Prilosec faithfully every day (miracle drug which cures the problem completely) I would come close to vomiting from the reflux. So, that’s a big down side of pregnancy. BUT on the upside…. in our family, the wives’ tale is true. Our babies have full heads of lovely hair. The nurse that delivered Lilia said that she had the thickest, longest hair of any baby she had ever delivered in her whole career. So, I pop my Prilosec and I avoid a lot of red sauce, but I look forward to hair bows and pony tails before checking out of the hospital.
5. Baby’s Movement
It’s magical, it’s amazing, it’s touching, it’s a real crowd pleaser. Every woman loves to feel her baby stirring, moving, stretching, living… It’s a comfort to feel and a joy to share.
But at 5 am when you are just getting up to pee (for the 10th time) and baby decides it must be time for kick boxing, it’s really annoying. When a pregnant woman is in motion, the baby tends to quiet down sleep. When a pregnant women sits down to relax or sleep, the baby decides it must be exercise class.
So it’s lovely to feel the baby move, but it would be great if they had a sleep setting.
6. Being Everybody’s Business
There is a universally recognized sign that goes around a woman’s neck when she become pregnant. It says, “I am carrying the next generation. This means you can ask me anything and give me advice.” Now, some ladies may love this all the time, or hate this all the time. But I have both emotions. When I am feeling lovely and competent, organized and well rested (2.3% of any given week), it’s nice to have people be interested in you. Then again, some times, I’m in the store pushing the subamarine car cart around HT, frantically leafing through coupons and using one hand to prevent Lilia from poking Maddie in the eye, the other hand to prevent Maddie from grabbing Lilia’s hair from its roots, and the other hand (yes, its a miracle which occurs sometimes like the loaves and fishes – hands sprout up when needed) to support the weight of the now obvious belly which is pressing relentlessly upon my bladder and making the only thought on my brain (besides the aforementioned vodka tonic) MUST PEE NOW – and up strolls the kindly grandparent to have a chat about the delights of child bearing. That is a moment when I would rather be anything but the center of attention.
7. Lovely Things People Say
This connects to the last reason, so I’ll be brief. We love the comments, we hate the comments. We love the questions, we hate the questions. I have joked in the past about creating a custom shirt to wear that would say, for this time. Due Date Jan 23. Girl. No Name Picked Yet. That would save me a lot of time. But it is nice to have random people tell you congratulations. It is nice to be reminded of quickly children grow up (as every parent of grown kids will remind you) and it is nice to hear advice, SOMETIMES.
8. The Name Game
Who likes picking out a name? That part is annoying. But when you settle on something, and you and your husband agree, and its special and wonderful and just for baby…. that is awesome. It’s going to be tricky for us this time. We have exhausted SIX female names (first and middle), so we are really down to the dregs now. But when we do pick a name, it will be wonderful, and it will be all hers.
9. The Anticipation
I hate waiting. But God knows best and He provides pregnant women with about 8 or 9 months to get ready. So, its a good thing we have the time. But nothing has ever moved as slowly as the last three weeks of any pregnancy. The simultaneous fear and excitement make it a time like none other. Every Braxton Hicks takes on new meaning when you get to that final stretch, but the realization that its your last chance to sleep straight through the night for months and months makes you crazy with readiness and non readiness.
10. The End Result
What’s the best thing about being pregnant? A tiny velvet human to hold in your arms, to love and cherish and nurture and thank God for every day. If you need more tear jerking inspirations on why babies are the best thing EVER, re-read Katrina’s post about Anika.
What’s the main reason I’m glad I’ll never be pregnant again? Four tiny humans is enough for me.