I forget what it’s like to feel okay. Since I feel considerably less awful than I did three months ago, I often assume that I do in fact feel normal, that nothing’s really wrong, which leads to me thinking things like “Why do I feel so weird?” or “Why does it seem like everything’s so hard?”
Um, I can answer those questions! Because I’ve been nauseated every day since September and have never escaped from that first-trimester fatigue. Because, although I usually manage not to throw up these days, I have to work hard and plan hard every day to avoid it–and it’s rare for a day to pass when I don’t have a little vomit shoot up my throat in the form of nasty nasty reflux. (Oh, and the past week has been much worse rather than better or stable.) The taste of vomit should never play this big a role in anyone’s life, period. Because when Eric says “she has good days and bad days,” that’s super-relative: my physically-best day of the past eight months would have prompted me to describe myself as “sick” at any other point in my life.
Here are some things I miss, that seem so distant that I no longer believe in my heart that they were ever real for me or could ever be again:
- Leaving the house for more than twenty minutes without packing snacks (always one more than I think I’ll need, or we may end up really regretting it!), a drink, and tissues (I’m absurdly sensitive about anything remotely like congestion or drainage).
- Eating food prepared somewhere other than our home. It feels like it will take some time–you know, like years of therapy–to be able to pop into a restaurant and order food without a lurking sense of terror. The idea that I could get hungry out in the world and just buy a snack (or, dare I even say it?, that we could change our plans at the last minute and decide it would be easier to eat a meal out or order take-out) is just too luxurious for words. It truly sounds impossible to me. Also, AMAZING.
- My old relationship with coffee and tea. I love you, coffee and tea. I have loved you for so long. But I have to be super-careful with caffeine now because of my sensitive little digestive system, which reads virtually everything as a cue to initiate nausea and then void! void! void! I have a cup of black tea most days, but I definitely have to eat first, and I’m often not up for it until mid-afternoon, and honestly I’m usually drinking it more because I like the idea of having a cup of tea than because I’ll truly enjoy it. Then it generally makes me at least a little queasier than I was before. I’ve had dreams (literally) about French press coffee with cream, but the reality is that it would just make me sick. Eric tells me that, when I’m not in the midst of this pregnancy, I have an espresso every morning immediately after waking and before eating anything, and that this makes me very happy and not at all nauseated. I find this unbelievable. Will that ever be real again? (See also: liking the smell of coffee; eagerly inhaling the fumes off freshly-ground coffee beans; being able to sit in a coffee shop without being sorta grossed out.)
- Getting hungry before I get pukey. The nice kind of hunger, where you’re like “I could eat ANYTHING!” and then you can wait until you get to some food and then just devour it and feel satisfied. That must be nice.
- Having more energy than I need to get through a day. I cannot tell you how much it weirds me out when I see someone do a little twirl or hop or otherwise expend energy unnecessarily while getting from point A to point B. I find it genuinely baffling. Playfulness is sort of out when you’re dragging yourself carefully through a day. But I recall doing things like dancing around for fun, actually suggesting activities with Noah that don’t involve me reclining, and otherwise being spontaneously playful without doing myself an injury.
- Hell, having enough energy to get through a day without feeling overwhelmed by everyone else’s exuberance. It’s, like, intimidating just to see Noah and Eric’s (totally normal) energy levels and to live with their (totally normal) noise levels.
- Being able to have a shitty night’s sleep or skip a snack or get a little dehydrated and still feel basically okay, rather than throwing myself off for days.
- Being able to do my half of our household labor. I don’t do laundry (I sometimes sit in bed and fold!), wash dishes (but I’ve been able to dry again since I took medical leave!), cook (I’ve made like ten very simple meals in the past eight months), help Noah with tooth-brushing (are you kidding? I would puke immediately; I almost do just hearing it from the bedroom), sweep, do much shopping, pick up my dog’s poop unless I’m the only person on the walk, etc. While I am profoundly grateful to Eric for taking over with grace and kindness, and while I don’t feel at all guilty about any of this, I’d be much happier actually taking care of my life.
- Drinking plain water. Not experiencing it as having a weird, acrid taste. And thus being able to get something to drink anytime, anywhere, and usually for free.
- Sleeping for more than two hours at a time. Though that may be awhile, huh? (Just being able to fall asleep without carefully navigating too-much-saliva, heartburn/reflux, nausea, finding a comfortable position with a giant belly plus head/shoulder/neck/back pain, etc. could be a pretty big improvement, though.)
I’m ready for the birth/baby in more positive ways, too. The monkey pajamas that were Noah’s very first outfit are clean and ready to go:
The newborn diapers and wipes are at hand:
There’s a drawer of tiny clothes in Noah’s room, far better-organized than it will ever be again:
I’ve had colostrum ready to go pretty much since Noah weaned, and we’ve got lots of warm, soft arms and chests ready to cuddle small folks.
So any day when anybody wants to come out of my body is alright with us.