This December is very special for me because nine months of pure pregnancy fun (wink wink) are coming to an end and I must say: I have severely underestimated the process of producing a human being in one’s own uterus. People keep saying “Pregnancy is not a disease” – but that doesn’t mean that it is not extremely exhausting and stressful. I am actually wondering what the phrase “Pregnancy is not a disease” is supposed to tell me in between the lines – because the mere fact that it is a natural process that most women go through (more or less) voluntarily does not make it more fun or its side effects more easy to endure. Sometimes I believe that people are just saying it to conveniently shut up whoever is complaining about pregnancy-related issues. I have to say: there were times when being pregnant felt like a never ending sickness that forced me to give up the life I have led and loved completely without really knowing when I would be able to do any of the things that bring me joy again. And still I know that I can consider myself lucky: no major nausea in the first trimester, no hemiplegia, no loose teeth, no premature hospital stay, bearable back and pelvis pain, only mild heartburn and shortness of breath. So, in order to celebrate and anticipate the soon ending of my pregnancy, I have composed a list of the top ten things I am looking forward to about not being pregnant anymore. And if you read carefully you might encounter one or the other item that very directly relates to being sick – or rather: being healthy again.
1 | Having my body to myself
Although I am extremely grateful to be able to experience growing a human inside of me, it is pretty scary to share your body with somebody else. As soon as you feel the baby kick and stretch and turn inside of you, you become very aware of the fact that everything you do to yourself is also being done to your baby. Wether it’s the third cup of coffee, a workout that might have been too strenuous, junk food for lunch or a very stressful situation at work – you’re not only harming yourself, you’re harming the little one inside of you even more. Being pregnant sometimes felt like a permanent self-guilt trip to me.
2 | Being able to move freely
My bones ache, my belly feels as if it is about to burst, my back makes weird crunching noises whenever I get up, I cannot sit or lie or stand in the same position for more than fifteen minutes, I can’t turn around because my torso entirely consists of belly, I am out of breath after climbing more than five consecutive steps and I can only walk very slowly, because after twenty minutes my pelvis hurts so much that I need to sit down. Oh yeah, but I am not sick; it’s just pregnancy-related stuff not worth mentioning, because it is natural. I will tremendously appreciate losing all this weight and being able to move freely again.
3 | Being able to sleep on my belly
I have slept on my belly as long as I can think. Being already a few months pregnant rendered this impossible, so – just like any other pregnant woman – I had to learn to fall asleep on the side. I bought a pillow for people who sleep on the side, but I still think that I am mainly falling asleep due to exhaustion and not necessarily because I have grown fond of this position. So being able to lie in my preferred sleeping-position will be a major milestone in “going back to normal”.
4 | Not having to pee every five minutes
Oh, the constant peeing. What a joy it is to have your bladder squeezed to the size of a peanut because there is just no room in your body anymore for your own organs (again, this is all very natural). I think the nightly pee-parties started in the fourth month and have not stopped since. Although I am very aware of the fact that I will not be able to catch a lot of sleep with a newborn next to me, at least I will be able to make it through a couple of hours without a toilet close by.
5 | Not having to listen to stupid comments from people who are not pregnant
At our last family gathering I was greeted with the words “When I was young we would not have dared to wear clothes this tight” – which is nice, really, because my choice of clothes is currently, being 39 weeks pregnant, the thing that my relatives should worry about most. Also, whenever I am asked “How are you?” and I give an honest answer, people keep telling me “It will pass”, which is about as helpful and sensitive as telling me right to my face that I shouldn’t make such a fuss about it. I will give the exact same reply to those people when they are telling me about their ailments next time (because, surely, every type of pain will pass eventually – but most of them sooner than the duration of a pregnancy). A nice and often heard reaction to my having been put on bedrest for six weeks was “Just enjoy all the free time and relax”, which made me not only angry but also sad, because it clearly reflected the unwillingness of other people to put themselves in my shoes. How the hell was I supposed to enjoy lying on my back for weeks, feet propped up on the back of the sofa, alone, at home, staring at the same ceiling and counting the minutes (six weeks = 60.480 minutes) until I was allowed to move again, all the while feeling my muscles waste away?
I could go on for a while, but I am sure the message has come across that I am very relieved not having to listen to stupid comments like these anymore.
6 | Being able to go to the gym again
People who don’t work out probably cannot relate to this, but going to the gym and especially teaching and taking part in Zumba-classes has been a major stress-reliever for me. It’s not only good physiologically, but also psychologically because Zumba is usually a good-mood-guarantee (by the way, as you probably know any kind of movement has been proven to lift the mood and protect from depression). The last Zumba-class I was able to go to was in October and although I know that it takes time to heal after giving birth I am already now very much looking forward to going to the gym again.
7 | Having Sushi again
What is your favorite food? And how would you feel if somebody told you, you can’t have your favorite food for nine months? Thank God I actually have lots of favorite dishes, but Sushi is definitely in the top three and having to do without it for such a long time certainly was not a pleasure. (Maybe men can relate to this by imagining to go beer-free for nine months or having to cut meat from their diet.) I know that this kind of issue is more of a “first world problem”, but I am still very much looking forward to my first Master’s Collection (a big round plate with all kinds of Maki and Nigiri and Sashimi) from Wabi Sabi in Offenbach.
8 | Wearing my normal clothes again
Considering my wardrobe I have become a real minimalist: for the last couple of weeks I have worn the exact same six items over and over again (two dresses, one pair of pants and three different sweaters) – simply because there is nothing that fits me anymore. Although I actually enjoyed not having to think about what to wear each day, it will make me really happy to wear at least some of my “old” clothes again that are stored in the back of my wardrobe. I know it will take months until my body is at least halfway back to normal, but hopefully some of the more loose clothes will fit again quite soon.
9 | Knowing that, considering my body, it can only go uphill from here
For most women being pregnant gets more and more exhausting and frustrating the closer the due date comes. What I found particularly hard to accept is fact that, after “the grand finale” (= giving birth), things will be even worse for a while (severe bleeding for weeks, birth injuries that have to heal, possibly problems due to the body’s preparation for breast-feeding etc.). It sometimes felt to me that after a lot of suffering during the pregnancy there is only waiting a different kind of suffering after the birth (sore nipples, anyone?) – although mothers keep saying that it all gets easier when you finally have the little one in your arms. No matter how it turns out in the end – I know that I will be extremely happy when all this is over and it can only get better considering my personal wellbeing and all the bodily changes.
10 | Finally getting to know the most important person in my life
I know that my list probably sounds a little selfish and totally ignores that fact that I am actually supposed to be very, very happy to expect a child – but believe me: I can be grateful and exhausted at the same time. And of course: finally getting to know the little one that has been growing inside of me is the thing I am looking most forward to and I am sure that each and every step on the way will have been worth it. And who knows? Maybe then everything else will be irrelevant: my favorite food, my old clothes, Zumba, whether or how I sleep and how my body looks like – maybe it will all fade away because there suddenly is this one little person that sums up all the joy in the world that I need to be happy.