It’s hard to be pregnant. And I think I was totally unprepared for how hard it would be. Most days, I do not feel like myself. Sometimes I think I will never be myself again.
This feeling started almost from the minute I discovered I was having a baby. There was no elated, over-the-moon moment when I saw the pregnancy test was positive; the first eight weeks were fraught. I had a miscarriage last winter, and I worried about having another one. I fretted over every stomach pang and the dark discharge that stained my underwear (blood? something else?). I did what I never do and fell down a rabbit hole of reading everything I could find on the internet in hopes that it would reveal that what I was going through was normal. The internet will never make you feel normal.
I battled morning sickness that lasted all day, walking around the office with a sleeve of Saltines, turning down happy hour offers by saying that I had extended Dry January into February, trying to play it cool while burdened by this secret. But maybe worse than the constant nausea and exhaustion and worry was the feeling that I was doing a terrible job at work. It felt like all my good ideas were gone.
But the baby stuck, as they say, and thrived. Every ultrasound seemed to reveal something new and amazing. Nausea gave way to sore breasts and a growing stomach, and while everyone raved about the second-trimester energy surge, I still felt tired. Was I tired because I’m pregnant, or because my career is demanding? Do I feel like I’m going to cry because I have a legitimate reason to be upset or because of pregnancy hormones? Why am I suddenly so unsure of myself?
I don’t feel like I have a pregnancy glow. Most of the time, I hate my big, huge stomach. It’s not popular to say, but I feel unattractive. I’m as vain as the next person, and, for the most part, I’ve always liked what I see in the mirror. Not lately though. I’ll startle sometimes when I catch myself in profile. Who is that pregnant woman? My body is heavy and cumbersome, and some mornings when even the walk to the subway seems too much, I’ll turn to my husband and ask him to wear the pregnancy suit today. If only.