Come along friends and allow me to tell you about the time that my body was invaded by an alien…
(No aliens have been harmed in the making of this post)
It all happened so innocently. One day, girl meets boy online, girl drives from NYC to Virginia Beach to meet boy, their first date lasts 5 days (yeah, that’s right 5 whole days 😉 ), a month later girl moves in with with boy, 3 years later boy and girl get married and 2 years later the birds meet the bees and girl gets impregnated with a life form of sorts. Life, as she knows it, will never be the same.
It wasn’t entirely unexpected since they had been practicing for a while and she had been taking prenatal vitamins to prepare her body to carry another life but no one tells you “tomorrow, you will test positive for an extra human being so drink all that wine and coffee now because you will be off the stuff for the next 40 weeks plus at least 6 months while nursing”. From the moment that test says (+) your life (and your body) is instantly changed. Forever. From that moment on, every waking moment is consumed by the growing entity within you that you have been assigned to nurture for as long as you both shall live.
Ok, so back to the story. We were both elated/confused to find out that we made a person. Yay us! It just so happened that I was studying Developmental Psychology so my awareness about the importance of a healthy pregnancy was on high alert. I dedicated my body to doing whatever I could to have a healthy pregnancy. That meant that I had to replace my daily morning coffee with a protein smoothie, Acai juice instead of wine, and all the water I could handle. It also meant no more cat litter changing for me (due to the risk to the fetus of toxoplasmosis) so it was all his job (it was the least he could do, really).
I was hyper aware of just how momentous the changes were that were occurring within me. My body was constantly growing. I had no control over what was happening within me, I was just along for the ride. I suddenly became a copilot to my body; I was just trying to hang on for dear life and ride this whole thing out as best as I could without suffering too much permanent collateral damage. I documented it weekly to my own amazement. I knew that gaining between 15-35 lbs would be typical for my body type so I prepared for that. I lubed my body up constantly. I was continually rubbing my belly with cocoa butter, coconut oil, Shea butter, vitamin E, and everything else you can name plus using a contraption called a Belly Band, which is basically a soft girdle, all to support my belly, my aching back, and prevent stretch marks (which are not only permanent but also painful). I wish there was a girdle for my swelling feet but alas, I just had to deal with my swelling feet and cram my size 9.5 size foot into my usual size 8.5 size shoes, which was rather unpleasant. Fun fact: Your bones actually shift during the last few weeks of pregnancy to prepare for birth. Super fun stuff in addition to all the other changes that occur.
I also was conscious of my thoughts since I was aware of how my stress levels can affect the developing baby. I tried to decipher gas pains from baby movements (I still can’t. Babies feel like gas and gas feels like babies. I don’t know who’s who). Even though I didn’t always “feel” the zygote/embryo/fetus growing within me, I was always aware of the presence of whomever was developing within me. I became intimately aware of the location of all the bathrooms within the tri-state area since someone thought that putting a uterus and a bladder in the same general area was a good idea. Thankfully, I had no morning sickness or really any serious cravings. I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy. Healthy and on target for all of my milestones, I couldn’t have asked for more.
After 40 weeks of patiently waiting, I was ready for this baby to experience life on the outside. I went into labor the day of my due date. That, itself, was rather uneventful. I began experiencing crampy pains but since I have painful cramps usually I didn’t think much of it. Everyone told me when I went into labor “you will know!!”. But I didn’t. I went to Costco and was walking around and decided to call my Dr. They figured it would be best to get checked out so we went to the Johns Hopkins. Upon arrival, they saw that I was 5 centimeters dilated and admitted me right away. I kept having cramps, but they were never regular (like people say they are supposed to be). The nurses were amazed (and concerned) that I wasn’t really uncomfortable or in pain. I learned that I have an abnormally high pain tolerance. Finally after a couple of near misses and with the help of a vacuum, 37 hours later, he came out, all 8lbs.9oz. of him.
My body tore open (sorry for the mental picture but that’s what happens and nobody tells you that). TV and movies tell me I was supposed to be overjoyed with love and happiness but since I had no medication during labor and I also had not eaten after being admitted to the hospital, I was delirious and exhausted. I could barely manage to move one foot in front of the other to walk. I was looking forward to just resting and letting my husband take over care while I recovered for a while but my husband lacks boobs so I had to keep mine on the ready. They had to be functioning and healthy but no one told me how intense that would be. I thought the painful part of child rearing had concluded but I was mistaken. Your breasts will continue to swell after birth in preparation for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is extremely difficult. And really painful to get started, but nobody tells you about that either but THAT, my friends, is a story for another day (or you can read about it on another blog post here).
Being pregnant was the most surreal, out of body yet still in my body, experience I’ve ever had. I cannot describe to you how strange it felt to feel so disconnected from my body. It wasn’t just mine anymore. I was the mother ship for this developing alien, who was completely and totally reliant and dependent upon me and my decisions to ensure that “it” would develop and reach its full potential. A pregnant body is one of the most unruly bodies there is.