A Pregnant Pause, weeks 13-19: Comparative Joy.

To be honest, the first half of the second trimester is a bit of a blur. The secret was out, and my energy level started increasing. Unfortunately, the gag reflex issue was still in full swing, but for the most part I had reached the part in pregnancy that everyone says is the best. And it is, really. I mean, you’re not sick or tired anymore (generally—I know this does not apply to everyone, and to those suffering with pregnancy-long sickness, I salute you and say carry on, warrior!) and the tiniest of baby bumps is starting to appear.

Of course, leave it to me at 16 weeks-ish to stand in the mirror, bemoaning my lack of noticeable bump, wondering why everyone ELSE got to have a bump at this stage. By “everyone else”, I of course mean the other two people I knew who were pregnant at the time. I worried that baby must not be growing properly, something must be wrong, etc.

Are you guys sensing a pattern in these posts?

Of course, as our 16-week appointment confirmed, all was well and baby was on track and growing just fine. At that appointment, we got to hear our little one’s heartbeat-until I hear her cry, laugh, and eventually speak, I must say that the whirring of her little heart pumping away inside of me is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. It never, ever gets old.

This stage of pregnancy brought into focus something that has plagued me my whole life but became a glaring issue the moment the sperm hit the egg: The idea of “everyone else.” I’ve long been aware that comparison is indeed the thief of joy, but it’s never been more obvious than over the course of this pregnancy. I was lucky enough to have both friends and family members sharing this journey with me—due two and three weeks ahead of me, respectively. It was a huge blessing to be able to ask them questions and share my fears and worries with them. They celebrated milestones with me, and we shared symptoms and sales and tales of registry adventures.  But I found myself all too often comparing my pregnancy with theirs—Their bumps were bigger, their babies moved sooner or more often. They ate better or exercised more, or took the right supplements. I started doubting not only myself, but this poor innocent baby I’m carrying. Was this baby okay? Was this baby behind schedule? Was there something I was doing wrong to be having a different experience from (here it comes) everyone else?

No.

No, no, and no. I realized somewhere around week 19, preparing for the big ultrasound at 20 weeks, that all my constant stress and comparison was doing was stealing my joy. And this joy…oh, it is not worth compromising, even for a second. It broke my heart one night to realize that this miracle inside of me was not being fully celebrated, but instead compared. I sobbed out loud and told him/her how sorry I was for not waking up every morning and hitting my knees in gratitude for the gift I’d been given.

It was then I understood that this urge to compare is not going to go away when my child is born, or as they grow. In fact, it may just get worse. I learned (okay, am learning) that as a mother, my job is to help decide what’s best for my child and see to it that he or she receives just that. My responsibility is to not only instill confidence in my kids, but model it for them. That won’t be accomplished in constant worry or concern over what everyone else is doing and how my family measures up.

I will always be grateful to have a village, a safety net of mothers and friends I can go to when this journey gets tough. I hope to only add to it as we move along in this parenthood thing. But beyond my village there will always be my family, the ones that are simply mine, and the greatest thing I will ever have going for me.

Pregnancy did a 180 for me when I chose to lean on the village but delight in the family. I hope when my friends and I are selecting preschools and comparing notes on teething and vegetable consumption, I can recall and rest in the peace that came with gratitude for what is mine. It’s more than I could have asked for, and much more than I deserve.

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