This post was originally written in November of 2017, and probably never finished because Eldore was born just a few days later. The emotional upheaval did recede with his birth, like I thought it would, and we have enjoyed a lovely nearly-nine-months of having him in our family.
It’s been a long time since May–long enough that I had to actually talk myself into visiting the blog to begin typing an update. It’s partially being out of habit, it’s partially thinking there’s nothing really interesting to share, it’s partially being afraid to share honestly. This has been a long year. It has been a very good year but it has been very long.
A couple of days ago, as I was lying in bed in hopes my irritable uterus would subside, I looked at the reddened leaves of the dogwood tree outside our window–the ones that are still attached, that is–and realized I have laid there and looked at that tree for an obscene amount of time this year, watching the blooms open and then fall and the leaves open and now color and fall in their turn. 2017 was the year of the Dogwood Tree, apparently–I have spent a lot of time lying there, on my right side because that’s the hip that hurts the most, picking out shapes in the clusters of leaves, trying to sleep, and just wanting to feel better.
We found out we were expecting again in late March of this year, and less than two weeks later the morning sickness and dizziness struck. I spent eight solid weeks in bed; I lost fourteen pounds through just not eating. When I wasn’t asleep, I was stressing at how stressed out everyone else was that I wasn’t able to perform my normal role in the house.
The second trimester came, but it didn’t bring much relief. Usually you’re “supposed” to feel rotten in your first trimester, much better in the second, and then rotten again in the third. The sickness tapered off around fifteen weeks or so, but the dizziness didn’t; I took iron pills for a while and they helped somewhat, but then caused stomach pain so severe I couldn’t eat, so I had to stop them. The worst was the emotional upheaval, though. I will expound on it more in a little bit, because I think it’s important to note, but essentially this pregnancy was the mirror image of Anselm’s pregnancy, which was also very difficult emotionally and mentally.
I honestly did not begin to feel better until September, just some eight weeks or so ago, when we got back from our month-long trip to Florida and I finally made a routine for us and managed to stick to it most of the time. This was when I was about 27 weeks, at the very end of the second trimester. So, I have had the rather unconventional experience of a rotten first and second trimesters, and a relatively easy third one. I haven’t experienced that much physical discomfort until just the past week or so. Really the past couple of months have been very good. I didn’t even have that much obsessive nesting as I normally do, which has been a relief. Nothing in the house got painted! The emotional upheaval didn’t recede completely but it did ease up a little. I’m at 37 weeks now, and nearly at the end.
let’s talk about our feelings
I said I thought it was important to note the emotional difficulty of this pregnancy (and how similar it was to Anselm’s) and this is why: one of the things that helped me the most through the very tough days was remembering how awful Anselm’s pregnancy was, how immediately things improved after giving birth, and how the difficulty of the pregnancy had really no influence on my attachment to him once he was born. I wrote in more detail about the experience here, but it can be summarized thusly: I was unable to enjoy the things I had previously enjoyed; some days the best I could do was stick the boys in the car and go for a drive. Our well-kept routine (and the sanity that it preserved) crumbled during my first trimester and I could not rebuild it, it seemed, for anything. I was miserable and moreover I was miserable that I was so miserable. I was not happy to be pregnant and, because of my past struggles with loss and infertility, to say I felt guilty over that is something of an understatement.
I’m thankful for writing down those memories, because it became clear to me very early in this pregnancy that I was going through the same motions. The apathy, the misery, the inability to keep basic routines functioning, the lack of enjoyment in anything. I have taken practically no pictures this year; you can look at the blog and see how much writing I’ve done. My phone stopped downloading my favorite podcasts because I stopped listening to any of them. I have read a book and two halves since discovering I was pregnant: The Silmarillion, some of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, and half of The Four Feathers. Usually that number is much higher. I realized the other day that I didn’t hang one single load of laundry on our clothesline this year–and that was a real, simple pleasure for me last year. Even eating has been a challenge, though admittedly that was partially the iron pill’s fault. These are just examples of the symptoms of this kind of emotionally miserable pregnancy. Of my five successful pregnancies, two have been like this, now, and three not.
A big fear of mine throughout the summer was that none of this would go away after the baby was born, but that I would somehow be stuck in it. I am mostly over that, thankfully; being forced into a routine helped, I think. Though I wish I had some good tips to overcoming this kind of pregnancy, really my purpose in recording is so I can remember that it does clear up on its own. You know, in case it ever happens again.
the happiest part
We found out at the end of July that we were expecting another boy, and Eldore Rex officially entered the family consciousness. We choose names and share them very quickly; I love to refer to the baby by his or her name with the other kids as soon as possible. And they are ecstatic–they were ecstatic when we told them we were having another baby (we told them as soon as we found out); they were ecstatic when we told them the baby was a boy (except for Clive, who had decided at that very moment that he wanted a girl instead); they are ecstatic now that we are only weeks–or days!–away from meeting him. Clive has decided that “preg-a-nent” means that you are very tired. Ephraim says sweet things to me like, “Mom, I know things are harder when you’re pregnant.” Anselm asks me constantly when the Eldore is coming out. Even Elvie Kay knows that my swollen belly is a “baby”, a realization she beat all of her brothers to, which I will, I suppose, chalk up to the fact that she’s a girl and sort of obsessed with babies anyway. I probably haven’t apologized enough to everyone for the difficulty of the year, but the kids are resilient, and have been very patient, and that has been a tremendous blessing.
The other morning, with all of the kids around the breakfast table, I attempted the rather humbling act of trying to preemptively apologize and explain that I was getting close to the end and my temper was getting short. My tolerance level for shenanigans is waaaaay lower than normal. All I really want from life right now is quiet and for everything to stay clean. Of course, neither of those things are possible. “You haven’t done anything wrong,” I told them. “Mama is just…kind of feeling crazy. So please be patient with me!” How do you explain this time to a bunch of kids under six?
But they are patient, and they’re excited, and I’m excited to see them see him. It’s been one of the greatest blessings, to see these kids eagerly welcome another sibling.