Thursday, May 14, 2009

No longer enchanted by the novelty, just settling in for the long haul

About 10 years ago I ran a marathon. I remember the different phases of the race very distinctly. And when I woke up this morning and thought, "gee, I'm 20 weeks pregnant today," my reaction to that thought reminded me of what it was like to go through the different stages of a marathon.

PHASE 1/FIRST TRIMESTER -- THE BLOOM IS ON THE ROSE

When the marathon started, I was excited. I was about to do something huge and difficult and exciting, and I was pumped full of adrenalin. That feeling carried me for about 10 miles. I felt great, like I could run forever.

This is similar to the first trimester of pregnancy.

You pee on the stick, and the second line turns blue (or in my case, the digital readout announces "PREGNANT" with a smiley face next to it). You feel a bit of shock, but also a flush of happiness (assuming the pregnancy was planned or not otherwise unwelcome). You tell your babydaddy, and the two of you share a moment that's a mixture of "whee!" "wow!" and "wha??" Plus a lot of "awwww!" and "woohoo!" You go for that first OB appointment, and cry a little bit when the ultrasound reveals that your tiny 7 week blob of an embryo has a nice strong little heartbeat. You get all focused on making sure you're taking your prenatal vitamins, eating the right foods, conspicuously announcing that you can't have that glass of wine you're offered, stocking up on maternity clothes, and lamenting how tight your pants are when secretly you're psyched to be developing a bit of a belly bump. You tell your friends and relatives when the time feels right, and go through the "whee" "wow" "wha" "aww" "woohoo" all over again, only this time with your peeps.

So really, there's too much newness and emotion during the first trimester to focus very much on the fact that it's going to take you 10 months* to grow a person inside you, and that 10 months is a long time. You're just all "happy to be here, hope I can help the ballclub" at this point.

PHASE 2/SECOND TRIMESTER - THE ROSE IS STARTING TO WILT A LITTLE BIT

I remember miles 10 through 20 as another distinctive section of the marathon. The excitement and adrenalin of the beginning was gone, and then it was just a slog. It was boring. It was tedious. I had already run a long way, but still had a long, long way left to go, and it felt like the race was never going to end. I was still feeling OK physically, noticing a bit of tiredness but cognizant of the need to maintain my form and preserve energy and continue to pace myself. Nothing to do but settle in for the long haul.

The middle part wasn't all bad. As I said, I still felt pretty good physically. Plus, things took a huge turn for the better at around mile 18. Much of the middle of the race was run through woodsy, rocky trails in the hills behind Anchorage, Alaska, and at mile 18 we descended out of the hills and back into the city. So in addition to being back on pavement and thus not having to constantly watch the ground to avoid turning my ankles on rocks and logs, I got a nice downhill stretch to make me feel lighter and faster and more energetic. Also, back in town, there were people by the side of the race route cheering us on again. Someone handed me an orange popsicle that I sucked on while I ran. It was heavenly.

This parallels the second trimester, in which I am currently firmly ensconced. I feel fine physically. I notice myself getting tired a bit more easily, but nothing terrible. My belly has definitely popped, but it's not too uncomfortable yet. The ultrasounds are so cool, revealing a creature that looks like an actual baby, rather than the mere yolk sac or amorphous blob that you see in the earlier stages. I finally look pregnant rather than fat, so that's nice.

And I'm feeling kicks and flutters, which is awesome. Truly the most magical part of pregnancy. My friend Lisa likens the baby's kicks to always feeling like you have company. And it's true. When I feel a little thump, I'll think, "hi, honey!" and give my belly a pat. My little girl and I are forming a connection.

But at the same time, I've still got a long way to go. I feel bulky and have to sit a certain way or my breathing feels restricted. It's harder to chase Zeke around. I want my body back, but with another 4 1/2 months ahead of me, there's nothing to do but hunker down and get ready for ...

PHASE 3/THIRD TRIMESTER -- YOU WANT TO TAKE THE ROSE, STOMP ON IT WITH POINTY-HEELED SHOES, PULVERIZE IT IN A BLENDER, AND SHOVE THE REMAINS UP SOMEONE'S ASS

The final stretch of the marathon was brutal. My legs felt like leaden stumps. I was tired and sore. The only way I got through it was to focus on the music coming through my headphones, and to tell myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Adding insult to injury were the people lining the race route for the last mile or so. They were so sweet and encouraging, cheering and clapping and saying things like, "you're almost there! Just a little ways further!"

What they don't realize is that at that point in a marathon, you don't want to hear it. Amazingly, every single person I ran with felt the same way. Rather than feeling buoyed by the cheering crowds, the universal reaction seemed to be thoughts along the line of, "ach, fuck off already. Don't tell me how close I am. If you had any idea how long this last half a mile feels, you wouldn't tell me I'm almost done. You'd just shut your freakin' pie hole and let me get on with it."

Same with pregnancy, if memory serves. You're exhausted, huge, cumbersome, uncomfortable, dealing with heartburn and hemorrhoids, and feeling like the last 6 weeks take 6 months. Everyone wants to call and talk about it and be all excited with you, which is lovely, but really, you just want to be left alone to deal with it on your own, because talking about it makes you grumpy.**

So, Yay! 20 weeks!

And Ugh! 20 more weeks.

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*Yeah, yeah, I know pregnancy is supposed to be 9 months. But actually, it's 40 weeks, which is closer to 10 months.

**I wrote this blog post 4 days before going into labor with Zeke.

6 comments:

  1. Oh, how I remember. I would offer words of comfort or understanding, but I'm afraid the rose might have thorns!

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  2. No, not yet. It'll be a few months before I'm a thorny bitch, scowling at anyone who tries to engage me in a dialogue about the baby.

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  3. I've never run a marathon and as you know, I've not yet been through the third trimester. But yay, halfway is halfway!

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  4. Lis, you're just getting into the third trimester. It's exciting because it's the home stretch, but I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't hard. But then it's over and you have a wonderful new addition to the family and you forget all about the bad stuff. Until it's time to do it all over again!

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  5. What a great post - I've never heard anyone compare the two experiences but it totally makes sense! Happy 20 Weeks and congratulations on "It's a Girl" - very exciting :)

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  6. Husband and I were having a similar conversation (minus the "like the marathon I once ran" part, of course--ha)

    Being pregnant was not that big a deal...fun, but got kind of boring, etc...until the end. the last six weeks until six weeks afterward were pretty beat.

    In other news, we booked the tickets and it's all for sure! We'll see you guys soon!

    Cannot wait to properly examine the bump myself!

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