Who am I to complain?: Putting morning sickness in perspective

02.26.2007: Week 8


Here are some signs that I'm feeling better today, better than I've felt in weeks:

  • I went for a walk.
  • I did my prenatal yoga DVD.
  • I read the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, not just the Style Section, and actually had halfway intelligent thoughts about what I read.
  • I took a nap in the middle of the day, but had to actually lie down to do so--I wasn't already lying down.

I was going to make this blog a list of all of my complaints. You know, feeling like I'm walking unsteadily on the periphery on a dinghy in the middle of the perfect storm. The dead-tired exhaustion, the ridiculous mood swings, and the lack of will to do much of anything. Stumbling through my work days, feeling like I'm getting as much wrong as I am right. (In an email I just reread, I see that instead of writing, "This sounds like a great idea" to an editor--which is what I meant--I wrote, "This doesn't sound like a great idea." Fabulous.)

But then some things turned around for me. I got a little perspective.

Going it alone

My pregnancy with Sylvia started out in much the same way. I was pretty miserable. On top of the misery--or, actually, sitting right next to it--was a surprising sense of isolation. I'd romanticized pregnancy, as I think most of us who set out to become pregnant do, and so had assumed that once I got the magic news, everyone around me would become infused with joy, as would I. And that my experience would be a shared one--as if I'd be pregnant along with all of my friends and family.

My news did make everyone around me happy, very happy. But at the end of the day, I was stuck with a surprising realization: I was the only one who was actually pregnant. When I felt nauseous? Only I knew it. Hungry? Ditto. Weepy and scared? Well, then it was more obvious. Aron, my husband, was amazing with caring for me, especially when I wasn't so nice about asking for his help. But even though we were so together on this--my getting pregnant, how ecstatic we were at the thought of becoming parents--there really wasn't a way for him to be pregnant with me. You know, the whole "We're pregnant!" thing--it just doesn't fly.

Once that sensation hit me again, after I started feeling sick a couple of weeks ago (pretty much right at the six week mark, right on schedule), I started experiencing the weird in-between-ness of the first trimester. You know that you're pregnant, but not everybody else does--and even when they do, there's nothing to coo over, no bump, no glow. Just you, feeling kind of crappy and looking pale and wan. And not wanting to be social. Or productive. Or do much of anything, but just wallow in your own seasick misery, right there on the couch, until it goes away, which will be never, because wouldn't that be just your luck.

Or maybe that's just me.

But then...

The dark sky lifts. I have to keep remembering this about pregnancy, about motherhood, about life, frankly. I went to a wonderful course on meditation when I was pregnant last time, and the instructor talked about being present to pain. The human brain does this thing, he explained, whenever it experiences something painful--either physical or emotional. It extrapolates forward from the sensation, assuming that it will always be just that bad. But, the instructor--who suffers from a chronic and painful physical condition himself--said that if you can ward off that protective, fearful instinct, if you can stop yourself from imagining living your life with exactly that measure of pain during every moment, you can instead pay attention to the pain. Notice how it shifts, how it comes in waves, and then retreats. You can take away the fear from the pain, and concentrate on the pain itself, and how it changes.

Anyone who has been in labor can relate to this. The fear with the first really strong contraction that That's it, I won't be able to take this, Who are they freaking kidding?!? And then, just when you think it's beyond absurd, it lifts. And then you're sipping on a smoothie. (And, you know, then it happens again. Pretty soon. And maybe you're puking up the smoothie. Which does suck. My smoothie and I are still in blissful ignorance of that above.)

So the sky has lifted--I've noticed that my discomfort is not constant, that I don't have to wall myself off on the couch with People magazines and "all natural" Colas and food delivered to me by Aron. I can stop, and notice--is it really bad right now? If so, relax, and yes, by all means, live it up with the wallowing and self-pity. But if not? Then, you know, just try. Just try getting up, flipping to the back page of the first section of the Times, and see if anything seems interesting. And then see how it feels to go outside. To write a memo. To call a friend. Maybe, in fact, you're fine right now.

Which I am.

Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.

Next week: Sylvia is going through a "I'm a baby" phase: Is this trouble?