Being pregnant means we’re not alone: giving pause to this stage of my son’s life

Guest post by Ericka Kreutz

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I babysat on Mother’s Day this year. I think I was 14 weeks pregnant by then, and my client said to me “I am not going to wish you a happy Mother’s Day because you have no idea. You just have no idea what it means to be a mom.” And although I wished that she would have kept her trap shut, she did have a point.

Because I don’t have any idea. I crave burgers and vanilla soft serve. I constantly go to the bathroom. I have swollen tits and an ever expanding-abdomen but that does not make me a mother. I am more like a shelter, a house. A house that has major water retention issues and sore floorboards.

And I’ve got to say, it’s a lonely path wandering in these stretchy pants.

I feel alone as I decline offers to late night parties or drinks with friends. I feel alone as I surf the Internet on crib safety or register for a baby wipe warmer. I feel alone as I remain horizontal, hung-over with hormones, channel surfing — watching snippets of sitcoms about parenthood and feeling nothing but nauseous.

I am alone with my terrified thoughts in bed. I know my husband has anxiety and fears too but he sleeps through the night as I stare at my bookcase of books that I will probably never read now. I can feel the shifts in my hips. The cramping in my legs. And I’m pretty sure my breasts will never be the same.

I fear that I am not a good provider. That I am not a worthy parent. That my career will not want me back after this sabbatical. I fear I don’t have what it takes on a daily basis and what kind of mom will I be if decide not to buy the wiper warmer?

I miss the old me who was busy and buzzing and throwing back Malbec and laughing past midnight. I miss the old sleeper who could rest all night uninterrupted. I miss the gossipy subjects I used to rattle on about, the energy I used to have, how I used to hike and not get winded, how I could paint my own toenails, how I used to feel sexy and desirable and somewhat put together.

And yet, I know me well enough, that I will miss this part too if I’m not careful. I’ll be too busy reminiscing about the old me or trying to manufacture some clue as to who the new me will look like that I’ll miss this silent and sensitive pause in between the two.

I’ll miss all the delicate preparations. The thrill of telling my folks. The anticipation of waiting to find out gender. The friends who visit and touch my belly and want to know what it’s like. The first ultra sound. The first heart beat on the Doppler pounding away. The names I have deliberated and gone to battle with my husband for.

And I won’t be awake for all those private moments that my baby and I have together, when no one else is aware. When my little one squirms in my belly when I am listening to classical music in the car. Or when he hears me sing off-key. Or when I try to sleep. Or when I drink orange juice. When I’m having a private moment, and suddenly there is a knocking on my walls. My baby lets me know that everything is okay.

For right now, and for the next four months, it’s just him and me. He is just mine. And I am just his. And that’s it. It’s just the two of us — roaming this Earth together. And as lonely as I feel sometimes, I need to pause and realize, that I am never, ever, alone.

There’s no car seat to purchase. No babysitter on call. No grandmas fighting over who gets to hold him next.

He needs nothing but me. And he’s content. And so, for once, am I.

Comments on Being pregnant means we’re not alone: giving pause to this stage of my son’s life

  1. Bravo. This is exactly how I felt. Sometimes now, when my little one cries I miss those times when it was just us two and she was completely safe tucked away inside. Every little movement was a secret we alone shared.

  2. Nicely done, E. And you’re right, you have no idea. You will both have many, many “why didn’t anyone tell us?” moments. And no one can tell you. They can write books, articles, blogposts and give you advice forever; none of it will truly or accurately prepare you. None of it. Not even years of babysitting. One thing I can tell you, however, is that because you don’t live in the Yukon Territories, the wipe-warmer is completely unnecessary.

    • The wipe warmer was one of those items everyone told me I would absolutely need and I was crazy not to buy.

      6 Weeks later, baby loves the room temperature wipes on her bum bum. Case closed.

    • I always thought wipe warmers were a waste of $, and for disposable wipes they absolutely are. However, if you are going the cloth diaper/wipe route, a wipe warmer is perfect. First of all it is a perfect container for the cloth wipes. Secondly, you would not believe how cold a wet wipe can be! The warmer accidently got unplugged once and those wipes got COLD. If it was that cold to my hand I could only imagine what my poor baby would feel on his botty!

      • I make my own spray solution for our cloth wipes. It’s just Dr. Bronson soap, baby oil, distilled water and a few drops of tea tree oil. I have it in a little spray bottle next to the changing table. We use it as a bidet of sorts. First I spray some solution on a cloth wipe and clean up most the poo. Then I spray the solution directly on his bum and use the cloth to dry him off! The solution is room temperature and he hasn’t minded being sprayed yet. In fact, he seems to enjoy it!

  3. Aww…. at 38 weeks 4 days, this post makes me nearly want to cry! (And not from pregnancy hormones, I swear!) I spent a lot of my second trimester and early third trimester shoegazing and trying to totally appreciate “this silent and sensitive pause in between the two” versions of myself… It’s true: a first pregnancy is that stage between what we were and what we will become…and that is, in and of itself, a different version of ourselves, which will come to pass. In my impatience to have my son in my arms, I haven’t stopped to reflect on the ending of this stage of my life as much as I should. Thanks for the beautiful reminder. And best wishes for a happy and healthy end of your pregnancy & birth.

  4. Question for ladies who have gone through pregnancy: did you find that the peaceful feeling of sharing moments with the baby increased once you could feel it move? I’m just coming out of the first trimester, and though I’ll have those awesome moments of “Hello little person in there!” strike every so often (mostly during ultrasounds, to be honest), most of the time it just feels like being sick. A set of symptoms to endure until they’re over.

    Just wondering if that feeling changed for other women as they got further along in their pregnancies.

    • For me NONE of it felt real until I could feel my son move. Then all of the sudden it was totally this magical thing. Before that I felt like I had an awesome secret (even though we told people we were pregnant as soon as we found out), but after he moved it was definitely Very Real.

    • Yeah, I definitely felt more connected once my baby started moving. Even during the last few weeks, I always smiled to myself whenever he would kick me and no one else knew, but it was like we were having a little moment. After I gave birth, I definitely missed those little movements for awhile. They were so nice πŸ™‚ Of course now, we still have our special little moments, just in a different way.

    • It took both the baby moving, and finding out the gender to have those happy moments – it made baby real instead of a hypothetical critter. Although this baby was uber-planned for, and much wanted I was surprised at how much I resented my pregnancy in the first trimester. It felt like a long term illness I couldn’t see the end of. At 20 weeks I still have morning sickness but am now crazy in love with my little boy. Hang in there, it gets better!

    • In my first trimester I sometimes forgot I was pregnant. Once the little bean started to move I began to feel exactly like this – it was so private and special.

    • Not to be a downer, but it might not ever be magical, and that’s okay, too. I didn’t really start to connect to my baby and the reality of his existence until I could feel him move. I was SO terrified of a miscarriage that I pretty much completely emotionally disconnected until I was sure he was gonna make it.

      But even after that point I felt a lot of anger and resentment at this creature who had highjacked my body and was wiggling around inside me like a B Horror Movie. Which is crazy because I wanted a baby so badly I had been crying myself to sleep for months during the trying process.

      And now I have an amazing baby boy who I adored from the second I met him. But I never liked being pregnant. To the point where I’m pretty set on the idea of adopting if we decide to have another child. So … if your pregnancy never feels magical and connected, THAT’S OKAY. It doesn’t make you a bad mother and you will still love your child.

      • THANK YOU!!!! This comment REALLY, REALLY helps! As a 4.5 month preggo right now, no one is saying this to me, and I feel like a mess that I’m such a mess. And I wanted this so badly, too! Thanks.

      • Oh my god this. Sometimes there can be a LOT of pressure to only say the positive stuff about pregnancy, and it’s not all positive. I definitely felt more connected after he started moving around, but that very quickly changed to discomfort, not the elusive magical whatever. He kicks really hard! It hurts! It interrupts my sleep and my ability to have conversations without gasping in pain. So I don’t think I’m going to be longing to have these “special” moments back.

        I can’t wait to meet him on the outside though! (And not just because of the lung capacity I’ll get back. :p)

      • absolutely this. I’m now 33 weeks and this (unplanned but wanted…ish) pregnancy has not been a magical earth mama time. I wish it was but it’s simply not for me. It’s been a throwing up every day, totally exhausted, stressed, depressed, anxious time. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m going to be a bad mother, and it doesn’t mean I won’t love my kid. It just means that pregnancy sucks…for me. But it’s wonderful for others. And maybe in a few years time if I do this again, I will have a totally different experiance.

        But I didn’t choose to stay pregnant when I found out I was because of the pregnancy experiance I expected. I chose it because i wanted this child. So I’m not resentful things didn’t turn out all warm and cozy for this stage.

  5. Taking time to honour your pregnancy is a GOOD IDEA! All I focused on was how miserable I was when pregnant, and then my twins were born 10 weeks early! I look back and regret not taking the time to “live in the moment” because I will not experience pregnancy again.

    • Copycait: I, too, had my son early. Didn’t spend nearly enough time just being in the moment. After I had him I felt bereft, like an empty house.
      Thank you for sharing, Ericka. It brought tears to my eyes.

    • My twins came early too (27 weeks). I totally connected to this post because it so beautifully describes everything I felt like I missed by giving birth so early. For the last 17 months I have been trying to describe this feeling and haven’t been able to.

      Great post.

  6. Having just come out of the otherside of pregnancy (6 week old baby) I can say this rings true! I had what has been described as the “pregnancy from hell”. I honestly thought I wouldn’t miss anything about it, but the first time I popped in the shower after having my baby I said “okay baby, time for our shower” as I had said since the first trimester when only borderline scaling water helped my nausea . And I realized that baby was NOT inside me, and we were not showering together, and I had a little pang of missing the private time we shared πŸ™‚ Focus on those lovely moments!

  7. I think I’m pretty much at exactly the same stage of pregnancy, with 4 months to go, and this post has almost made me cry at my desk at work (I thought I’d gotten over the silent-cry-at-my-desk stage), as it rings so true for so many reasons.
    My experience of pregnancy so far has been very isolating, and isolated. I went out to the movies one evening after work with a friend, and it wrecked me for the next few days, so I have learnt that I have to stick to those early nights. I see people when I can, but I’m different, and more tired, and focussed on something that no one else is, or can be, involved in.
    And added to that, my husband has had to go overseas (for 5 weeks this time, then he’s back for 3 weeks and then away again for 7) for work, my mother is in Europe travelling with her partner (and on the phone to me upset because she’s missing my pregnancy) and my father has relocated himself and his family (including my adorable 3 year old sister) to the other side of the world.
    I can go a whole day (on the weekend) without talking to anyone. It has been very quiet, and very lonely, and very weird to be experiencing all this change and anxiety on my own.
    But in the quiet I’ve felt the movements, and watched myself change. And I’ve channelled my anxiety into really looking at myself and figuring out how I can go about being the best parent I can be.
    Every day I feel less alone, and what for at least the first 3 months was a theoretical, hypothetical baby, is starting to become my child, and my constant companion.

  8. I LOVED this article. LOVED it. And I really wish to hear again from the author once she’s had her baby, she expresses her feelings beautifully. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and in the middle of a big move. For me two things have made it extremely hard to bond with my little girl. One, that I really wanted a boy. I feel more comfortable around guys, I’ve never played with girls, only boys, and I really didn’t want to even consider the possibility of having a teenage daughter at home in the future. When they said it was a girl I felt really disappointed… and then extremely guilty for not being as excited about my girl as I would have been about a boy. And although I’m slowly trying to come to terms with it (and don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my girl for all the boys in the world) I still catch myself staring at boy clothes thinking “look at how much cuter they are” or looking at all the gifts we’ve gotten and hating every remotely girlish particle on them.
    The other issue has been moving from the bestestest apartment ever. Because we’re not moving too far away and want to do it ourselves as much as we can to save money, it’s been a hundred thousand trips in a car that started two months ago. What I fear the most about this extremely busy time is that I’m not taking the time to be present in the last weeks of my first pregnancy, the last weeks before getting to meet my little Elisa. I’m too busy trying to carefully pack photo frames and remember what food we have in the new place and what here and at the same time trying to get all baby things ready AND saying goodbye to what was my husband and I’s first place together (I hate that we are moving and feel really resentful towards the new place, so this is very hard for me). I can only wish that trying to cram all the preparations with the move will leave me some quieter time for the last few weeks. Tonight my dad is driving his truck over here so we can take the sofas, fridge, and big bookcases and tomorrow we’ll take everything over to the new place. From then on, I hope I’ll be able to focus on the two of us.

    • First, I’m sorry you are having to go through so much, and I completely understand the resentment of your new place. I hope you bond with it eventually.

      Second, I really hope you submit a post once you have had your little girl, and describe if and how you learned to bond with her. I am not pregnant, but both my husband and I know that if we had kids, we would both hope for a girl, for the same reasons you said: we are more comfortable around them, I simply understand them better, etc. We have a short list of potential baby names that we’ve been saving since we first met, just things we jot down whenever we hear a cool name. But they are all girls names. I want to be reassured that even if I eventually have a boy, that I will still bond and feel at all attached and interested in him. Or at least be prepared on how best to address it.

      Finally, I personally wouldn’t worry about rejecting girly gifts and buying cute boy clothing. Especially on this site, you see all the possibilities of expression and cuteness, and they certainly don’t have to follow old societal trends (and I think society as a whole is starting to accept boyish baby girls and girly baby boys a lot more these days). Plus, if girly clothes and toys and gifts are stressing you out, you need to get rid of them! You may need all the help you can get bonding with your baby girl, and it might help you if you get excited about dressing her in boy’s clothing, not because then you might see her as a boy, but because it might show yourself that she might just not be a girly girl, and you just might be able to relate to her better than you think. πŸ™‚

  9. After giving birth to my daughter I woke up the night after in a panic. I could not feel her in my belly. Then I reached out and remembered as she slumbered that she was on the outside rather than in.

    I am pregnant again…and very early on. I cannot wait to feel movement, to have my body stretched taught with kicks, and hiccups, and riggles.

  10. Beautiful piece. I really didn’t feel a shift in my identity until after my son was born, and the realities of how my life has changed sunk in. Honestly, yeah, sometimes it sucks. My body isn’t the same. My social life is on life support. I go to sleep by 10 because I’ll be up by 5. I’m not making theatre anymore, because I can’t go to rehearsals.

    But I also have an awesome son. I found out that besides being an artist and a great friend and a sexy person, i am a great mother. Those former qualities may not be getting as much play now, but they’re still there.

    I’m trying to be zen, and to be Who I Am Now and not focus as much on who I was or who I will be. It’s a challenge. But a worthy one.

  11. Thank you so much to the author for writing this and Offbeat peeps for posting it. It meant a LOT to me to read it today, and I suspect I’ll read it several more times over the next weeks.

    I am about 4.5 months pregnant, and it’s been a lot harder, scarier, more-miserable, and isolating than I ever, ever imagined it would be. I have a good job, great coworkers, a fabulous and loving husband, and yet I feel all alone pretty much all the time. I haven’t felt my baby (yet) and, before reading this, I had never thought about how I’m Not Really Alone because our Alien is here with me. Even when I’m with my husband I’ve often felt alone, just because I’ve been so un-me for months. First I was sick and throwing up and now I’m exhausted and cranky and cry-y all the time. I don’t go out, I don’t exercise much (though I’m trying to re-start that!!! ), I don’t eat the same way I used to, I don’t call friends back because I feel like I’m supposed to be happy but instead I’m blue. I’m worried I may be depressed, but since that’s something I’ve never dealt with before, I’m mostly just tired and confused. Reading this is a reminder to try to enjoy WHAT I CAN about this hard and weird-identity time. I’m so scared about losing Who I Was and worrying about Who I Will Be (thanks poster Jill for those words). I don’t know if I can block out the freaking out, but I CAN remember that I’m not alone. Alien is with me, inside, kicking around, and listening. It’s hard to remember because it doesn’t seem real. And because I guess I thought I’d be blissful and glowing and happy and having a lot of pregnant sex instead of glum and exhausted and with little interest in anything. Will my friends still be there when I’m finally out of this funk? Will I ever be out of it?

    Geez. This is a vent! Thank you for posting and thanks previous posters for your loving comments.

    • Honestly, you might be depressed, but it’s good that you at least recognize this, and it might be due to weird hormones and such, so at least there is probably an end in sight. πŸ™‚ So yes, you will be out of it. It might take a long time and stink horribly in the meantime, but it will end, and it will probably end in a wild bout of happy Alien. πŸ™‚ Good luck, try to exercise (lack of exercising can cause depression, I think) and big hugs!

    • I felt a lot like this during my pregnancy and I didn’t really realize how bad it was until I started to really feel better. Which happened gradually, but I’d say about 18 months after he was born. the sleep deprivation may have been a factor as well. I just had to remind myself what an honor it was/is to be the vessel that nurtures another human. He is a completely separate being from myself, yet no one else could share the responsibility I had to protect him. For me, recognizing how important I had become, made the sickness, sleepyness, and other changes more bearable. Sometimes it made me feel more scared though, too! It’s easier to reflect on my feelings now that the panic of new parenthood has subsided.

  12. Oh, as a single mommy to be, this brought tears to my eyes. I feel so alone so much of the time, I am making so many decisions and have so much anxiety, but I will feel a little kick, and I know it is all going to be okay. The universe would not have given her to me if it was not.

  13. Thanks, dudes. I cried at my work desk reading this, and now I’m crying while re-reading at home. I write for a goddamn living and I couldn’t have described this feeling so precisely. So, so, so good!

  14. It did feel nice to have my baby around, especially when I was alone all day. I always had someone to talk to. It was so amazing to think that my ordinary ol’ body. The one Ive always had, was actually forming a human being. It was constructing a heart, a set of lungs, fingers. All on its own without anyone telling it how. I also felt sometimes like I was sick of sharing my body with someone else. I wanted to eat what I wanted and drink as I pleased and it not affect anyone but myself again. I also wanted to be talked to as something more then a baby carrier. All questions all the time were of the baby.

    But all in all, remember your own adivce when the baby arrives. Those first few months are so hard. But believe everyone when they say that they grow so fast. Try as much as you can to take a few moments and make a mental note of how small and delicate he is. It really doesn’t last very long and you realize that he’ll never be that way again.

  15. Great post. So true. For about the first four weeks after Sam’s birth I actually mourned my pregnancy, feeling like an Olympian who went to London, won the gold & was now headed home. Now I love that I can walk up hills without wanting to call EMS and wearing my 3 inch heels again. And, of course, feeling like being a mom to my son is actually going to be my greatest mark on the world.Β Enjoy the next four months!

  16. This is such a beautiful post! My daughter is now almost 3 months old and I still remember so vividly how it felt to have her moving around inside of me, and that feeling of, “It’s just me and you, kid!” I actually cried one night at about 8 months pregnant that once she was born I’d have to share her. I LOVED not having to share those movements, those hiccups, those kicks in the ribs. They were all mine πŸ™‚

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