For the first sixth months of Simon’s life, I wondered: How long will I feel relieved every.single.day not to be nauseated and flattened? My pregnancy continued to loom large. Physically and emotionally, I was recovering–not from the birth, but from the difficult, unpleasant pregnancy.
And then, sometime around the six-month mark, the intensity gradually ebbed.
Whenever I do something or go somewhere for the first time since I gave birth to Simon, I’m still confronted by challenging memories and visceral feelings. When we went to the same Halloween celebration (and I could feel the nausea again, remembering it, and felt a little anxious leaving the house without all my protein-rich garlic-and-onion-free snacks and iced herbal tea and tissues). When we headed out for our pre-Christmas outing to downtown Minneapolis. So perhaps some of this recovery will happen as we cycle a year out from Simon’s birth.
Some of it, too, happened as I realized how profoundly ill, exhausted, and depressed I’d been in view of how wellness felt once I could feel it again. If your newborn is waking you every hour and a half, and your main reaction is “wow, I feel so great, it’s amazing to have energy again! oh, I’m enjoying food, this is AWESOME!,” some dark shit has gone down, that’s all I’m saying. So I experienced the pregnancy, just pushing through as best I could; and then I experienced realizing how difficult and bad it really had been, at a whole new level, aghast as well as relived; and then I slowly accepted that I really am okay again and can count on that now. I’m really not pregnant. I’ll wake up tomorrow and still not be pregnant. Amen.
I was told, while I was pregnant, that I would “forget about all this” the moment I saw my precious baby’s face. People want to tell you that it’s “worth it.” I don’t know exactly what drugs these people are on.
I remember damned well what it felt like to be sick and hopeless for months on end. I can look straight at Simon and remember it. And while I truly do love my baby with a heavens-spilling-over-with-singing-angels sort of passion, I would not have chosen to get pregnant if I’d had foreknowledge of what that experience would entail.
I don’t have a tidy wrap-up. But I know some of you work with pregnant people and some of you have had traumatic pregnancies, and I just want to speak to this part of the experience here.