Pregnancy is not for wussies. From the rapidly-expanding waistline (I look in the mirror and see a Dr. Seussian caricature of my former self; Oh, the places I’ve gone – mostly to the fridge and back), to the super-human smell (I know that you’re drunk on Listerine at 2 in the afternoon on the streetcar – even if you’re five seats back – and it makes me want to hurl), to the mental reprecussions of sleep deprivation (I don’t suppose you know where I left my purse, do you? – Ah of course, it’s in the fridge.) I’m no wussy, but the main problem I deal with, coming from a family of self-starters is – where does pregnancy end and laziness begin? When and how do I slow down?
I adore my sister and have always looked up to her, but I decided to stop asking her for advice about slowing down. When she’s pregnant, she becomes the Incredible Hulk – that is, if the Hulk was in his second trimeter, obsessed with wall decals and had mad eBay skills. She’s unbelievable! I will never forget the terrifying image of her hurling over-sized boxes of IKEA shelving onto a lop-sided cart while 6 months pregnant. I was amazed and horrified. I tried to help but it almost seemed safer to stay out of Hulk’s way.
Now six months pregnant myself, I’ve found that my day to day quest of “am I doing too much?” is a kind of live-and-learn experience. As much as we can Google to our hearts content on what is normal and what is not, it comes down to figuring it out for ourselves (and let me advise you, nothing positive will come from Google-ing any pregnancy-related issue, only details of certain death and destruction.)
The key for me to knowing when and how to slow down is self-awareness. Pregnancy has forced me to really listen to my body. It started when I was trying to get pregnant and I was incredibly in tune with every cramp and fluctuation in body temperature, anything to indicate that – ohpleaseohpleaseohplease! – I would be pregnant. When I finally hit the jackpot, my body awareness briefly turned into a panic of “it’ll never stick!” After a sobering conversation with my mother who promptly advised me to chill the hell out (“millions of women have millions of healthy babies every day, Whit”), my fear turned to wonder and utter fascination.
What came next is something wonderful. The first lesson my child has taught me in this life: What is the big damn hurry, mom?!
Now when I pound the pavement, run for a streetcar or try to rush my way to appointments (if I remember that I have them), my body simply won’t let me. Slow down Mumma.
Now when I make big plans to build those shelves, unpack those boxes and wallpaper the bathroom, the exhaustion kicks in half-way through. Slow down Mumma.
Now when I sing a three-set jazz show, I know to take a monster nap before hand, otherwise, my vocal range and breath capacity is knackered. Slow down Mumma.
What I have learned from this: In the end, Google and even a beloved big sister are fine references but what it comes down to is you and how your body feels. Only you can be the judge of how and when to slow down. After all, what is the big damn hurry?!
Post-Jazz Show giddy exhaustion.