Sunday, September 2

what "they" don't tell you

Pregnancy is alienating.

Forget what you see in those glossy Pregnancy magazines, filled with the latest, greatest, must-haves and cute pregnancy fashions - pregnancy is not all that much fun. I can't quite remember my last pregnancy - it was two sleepless years ago, but I remember thinking along the way that it didn't seem nearly as cool as I was made to think it would.

And that pregnancy was far "cooler" than this one, I worked full-time in a funky retail shop until very close to the end, I got to interact with adults all day, I got to listen to music I liked and read books and magazines (it was a quiet store). I saw my co-workers and friends every day, we talked about my pregnancy among other things and I was, generally, treated like an adult. That said, I definitely felt myself drift away from the people in my life as the life inside me took over. We hear the list all the time - tired, hormonal, cranky, bloated - but never does it really occur to us that all these things will happen at once and be so consuming.

Before getting pregnant again I envied other pregnant women, that glow, that joy, that incredible ability to grow a life - I rarely considered (even after having Sebastian) that they might be lonely. I always assume joy, assume a grand pre-occupation with their magical bodies, mostly I assume they wouldn't want me to bother them. I imagined, both times, of pregnancy as a kind of secret club. Full of belly pats and kindness from strangers and friends alike.

This pregnancy I have been a member of a club so secret that I have been spending most of my days in the lonesome company of my dear son. Life is easier that way - for months it has taken me forever to do anything, from getting ready in the mornings to making a decision to making dinner. Everything seems to take three times as long to do as anyone would think it should.

Then there's that whole not actually wanting to do anything bit. Sure a trip downtown on the bus sounded like a good idea the night before - but when the possibility of dragging an uncooperative toddler on to and off of a bus, up stairs, down stairs, having to change plans at the last moment because I'm too hot, there are too many stairs, there's not enough time, plus trying to make a lunch decision because I know I will either forget to pack a picnic or be completely repulsed by the sandwiches I'd worked frantically on before missing our third bus on top of the guilt over deciding to drive to my destination because otherwise there is no way in hell we would get to do anything before naptime and if we bail on this trip one more time this week Sebastian is likely to have a two-hour tantrum. When I contemplate trying to add other people into that mix I cringe. I can manage my guilt over screwing up my own family's day, but I can't bear the guilt of ruining another family's too.

Being out of the loop hasn't helped any either - it is easy to fall into a sort of solitary routine after enough time passes. With friends away for the summer, friends with out-of-town guests, out-of-town guests of our own, family members off on trips, family pre-occupation with house hunting or house selling and moving, Andrew's near-constant summer overtime, and the closure of most community-based activities so soon after our move to a new community. Life just felt simpler alone. Not better, just simpler, more adaptable, more manageable, less tense.

I'm a little side-tracked here, though, making excuses for my own alienation instead of focusing on my original thought, that pregnancy is alienating. I have heard it from all around, places where I talk to other mothers online, especially. We all feel a little left out, as one woman put it, it is like feeling 45 while surrounded by 18 year olds. This is especially true if the majority of your friends are childless - they don't quite get that your mind has been turned to swiss cheese and that not drinking is not the biggest issue when they want you to go out with them. Being pregnant means being aware of a whole laundry list of rules, some straightforward (don't get wasted, don't smoke, don't eat raw fish) some less-so (don't eat feta, or brie, or deli meat, eat peanuts, no don't eat peanuts, yes eat them - but only if you want to, and don't eat too many), exercise, but not too much, listen to your body, even though it is speaking a foreign language and you don't have a translator, you are strong, you are weak, you are doing a good and miraculous thing, you are contributing to overpopulation and global warming. Oh, and is there lead in any of the baby stuff you've picked up? Should you buy second-hand? What chemicals are those plastic toys leaching? What birth-route should you take?

The first time around, the questions that swam through my head were consuming an distracting - this time, with the addition of a ever-changing toddler and the combined effects of normal parental sleep deprivation and pregnancy insomnia (and is coffee okay?) my mind is just full-up.

And it seems the second (or third) time around is no less alienating. As I stated I am feeling it pretty intensely, but so are other mothers I talk to - and it seems, to me at least, that by the time the baby comes we have spent so much time occupying our tiny world that we can't quite figure out how to interact with other human beings again. This certainly isn't true of all mothers, but I see it in some of the ones I met early in my pregnancy. And I really wish I had reached out to them. They all had that same distracted look, that preoccupied conversational style, that wandering train of thought that can come off as disinterest, but now think is more a symptom of the isolation (or left-over pregnancy hormones). Whatever it was, I am pretty sure it was not directed at me. I now leave conversations with a distinct feeling that I was just like that (or worse, said something totally inappropriate or out of context), sadly this realisation usually hits too late (we're talking hours or days later, if ever).

So I am lonely and feeling alienated, all the while I am alienating my friends and family, the cycle is vicious and seemingly never-ending.

At least I am getting my mama-groove back (more on that soon!) and am feeling a little more inclined to try and get as much fun out of the next few weeks as I can squeeze. I just hope that when the chips fall I still have my tiny tribe.

ps. don't get me wrong, there are loads of things I am really enjoying about my pregnancy - and they may also be contributing to my hermityness and laziness - I enjoy sitting around, drinking tea and just feeling the baby move inside of me. It is much like how I am trying to make the most of the last of my alone time with Sebastian - I am also trying to mentally record every happy nuance of this pregnancy, I know this time it will be my last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, are you going to get Andrew fixed?

When are you leaving for the reunion? I wish I could go.

Love from the Soo to you!