I once read that you know you’re really in the third trimester when the prospect of delivering a baby is actually a desirable option*. As someone who freaked out during my first pregnancy when the Internet told me my baby was as big as a cantaloupe (20ish weeks) because I realized that this cantaloupe-sized thing in me had to come out somehow, and as someone who swore she would never give birth again after the gruelling experience the first time, to actually be looking forward to labour tells you a lot about how the third trimester feels.
Being pregnant is a beautiful, natural, incredible experience,… especially from a distance. It is also completely exhausting and physically exerting when you’re right in the middle of it (or at the end of it, as I find myself to be).
I don’t know why the third trimester feels so much tougher to get through than the first trimester. Maybe it is only a matter of perspective. Maybe it is that we just learn not to draw attention to pregnancies in the first trimester. Or maybe it is that my first trimesters have never been as tough as they could be. But I think the real reason is that in the first trimester, the fear of losing the pregnancy outweighs the symptoms. We are willing to go through it all with very little complaint because the alternative is not being pregnant. But by the time the third trimester arrives, the promise of a life realized, a little person contained in my very own arms, is so close, so attainable, so realistic already that it is hard to get through each additional day of pregnancy.
But should I feel guilty complaining? I have been blessed with the privilege of growing a child healthily inside of my body for thirty-seven weeks. This beautiful child of mine has been kicking and hiccuping and somersaulting and introducing himself** to me in such a secret and beautiful way. I am absolutely, completely grateful and in love with this child that I have yet to even see. I would never wish this pregnancy away.
And yet, the reality of this pregnancy is that my stretched skin is currently painful beyond belief. My belly is larger than it was the first time around and my skin has been stretched to its breaking point. I spend my days avoiding clothes and rubbing Vaseline on the burning, cracked skin. Beyond that, I am often hobbling around on a throbbing hip and my sleeps are interrupted hourly from pain. I typically cannot eat dinner because my acid reflux would have it back up in moments. As Cameron’s primary caregiver and the person at home during the day, I must admit to managing both my home and my son quite poorly. So, as much as I love the little life wrapped up in this pregnancy, as much as I desire this pregnancy to continue as long as is healthiest for my precious little baby, I am pretty tired of the whole thing.
How ungrateful that must sound. Especially as someone who wanted nothing more than to have a pregnancy continue this long. Especially as someone who has a number of dear friends who would do anything to be this close to having a(nother) baby.
Being a mother is such a wonderful experience because it is a role that so many people share. And yet, our experiences within motherhood are not all the same. We all have our own stories to share, and we can choose to allow those stories to connect us or to divide us. Part of my story to tell is that pregnancy, no matter how incredible and desired it is, is tough. It can be hard to get through. It can be so exhausting that the promise of waking up multiple times a night to nurse doesn’t even sound like a bad alternative. It can be so uncomfortable that the idea of spending hours contracting and pushing a much-larger-than-cantaloupe sized baby out of me doesn’t even sound too horrible.
I love pregnancy. And I loved it so much with Cameron’s pregnancy that I didn’t even know if I wanted it to end. But now that I have had the opportunity of sharing a life with one child, I so desperately want that again. I want this pregnancy to be over so that we can fit our new baby into our world. I want to meet this baby and see this baby and smell this baby. I want to introduce this baby to his Daddy and his big brother.
I totally and completely love what this pregnancy is bringing me. And I am so looking forward to it being over.
*I might have read that in this book. Or maybe this one.
***Funny story, this shirt isn’t a maternity shirt. Just a long stretchy shirt that actually covers my baby-belly better than almost any of my maternity shirts.