When I was pregnant with DoodleBug, I lived every moment as a mommy-to-be. I couldn’t wait to wear my first maternity shirt, I was constantly aware of the baby, and every decision revolved around my growing belly. It’s embarrassing to admit that I aspired to be like the women on the cover of FitPregnancy Magazine. Every movement of the baby immediately caused me to stop in my tracks, and any period of time without a movement threw me into a panic. I was more than just a woman who was pregnant…to an extent, the pregnancy defined who I was for those 9 months.
Some of my reaction makes sense in hindsight. We moved 6 months into the pregnancy and I had to stop working as a teacher. The teachers out there will understand how much working in education can define who you are – I felt more than a little lost without my teacher identity. And in a tiny apartment across the country, I had hard time feeling at home. The pregnancy just kind of filled in the void.
But also? I thought that was the way pregnancy was supposed to be. All-consuming. Magical. Beautiful. Perfect. I was determined to do it right.
Now I often go for hours without thinking of Baby Girl. The other day I actually ran my belly into a piano student because I forgot about it. And when the cafeteria cashier at Harvard asked me “do you know what you’re having?” I answered, “pizza and some fruit.” I was totally baffled when she repeated herself. I feel like this time, instead of being a pregnant woman, I’m a woman who just also happens to be pregnant.
At first, my lack of intense focus on the pregnancy scared me. I felt guilty for not paying more attention to Baby Girl’s kicks, having a name picked out, or being obsessed with planning her nursery. I wondered if I was in denial, and the anxiety of fitting a new baby into a family that was working so well trumped the excitement. I felt awful…guilty…almost disconnected.
I asked my girlfriends. I confided that I was feeling a little disconnected from the pregnancy. I shared that I was worried about how I would love two children when I was so used to loving just one. Each one nodded along as I shared my truths. Turns out, they all felt the same with their second baby. They told stories of being too busy to focus on the pregnancy and being freaked about adding another little one to the family dynamic. And one friend said something that resonated in my core: Not being worried or obsessed about the pregnancy does not mean I don’t care.
What a powerful truth. As an anxiety sufferer, I’ve learned to equate worry with affection and concern. I think that somewhere deep down, because I’m not as worried about this baby, I thought I thought I didn’t care as much. But maybe, just maybe I’m just not worried as much this time around, period. I’ve been through this before with beautiful results to show for it. I have an amazing support network surrounding me. We’re settled in a home we love surrounded by people who care about us. I found a medication that works with my body. It makes sense that I’m not as worried or obsessed this time around. It’s kind of a beautiful thing.
Maybe it’s supposed to be this way the second time around. What the pregnancy misses in attention is made up for with a calm, positive energy. When Baby Girl gets here, she’ll certainly get her fair share of attention. And although I know it will be an adjustment, it’s one we will be able to make. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these last few months I have with hubs and DoodleBug as a family of three.