These days I am just exhausted.
Generally speaking, I do enjoy being pregnant. I love watching my body grow and change and I love every flutter, every kick, every sign of life inside me. The anticipation of what's to come, planning for and adjusting to two, choosing a name, wondering what she will look like, imagining her with her older sister, getting all the newborn stuff out and ready - all this makes me happy and excited.
Also, I love having a toddler. When I come home from work, she is almost always in the bathtub. She loves bathtime so we do it nearly every day just because it makes her happy. I unlock the door quietly and hear Johnny singing to her or blowing bubbles. She stops whatever she's pouring or splashing, hearing the door open, and starts saying, "Mama? Mama?" I tiptoe around the corner and poke my head into the bathroom. "Hi Bea!" I say, and she breaks into a wide grin. "Mama!" she shouts. And two seconds later I am on the floor, up to my elbows in baby bathwater, with a wet baby's arms thrown around my neck, happier than I've been all day. Every day. It never gets old.
Sometimes I look at little bits of our life and I am overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. Most of the time it happens in the evenings after she's gone to bed. I'll see Thora's shoes by the door. Little tiny sneakers, a symbol of her enormous presence. Or her tiny hoodie on a hook with our jackets. Or I'll be doing some mundane thing in the bathroom like plucking my eyebrows, and I'll see the big container of bath toys that she plays with every single evening. I have never experienced this kind of happiness in my life before. It's a kind of happiness I can't even put into words.
But it's still not a great time for me. Being pregnant and mom to a toddler means that mothering is on my mind all the time. I am reading books about birth, about parenting, and about families, born or made. I am still in shock and devastated over the loss of my birth mother, still refusing to believe that she is gone. She was such a big part of the incredible happiness I have begun to feel every day. It is painfully ironic that I am just starting to understand so much about her that I never did before. I am just starting to know what it means to be a biological parent when biology was something that meant nothing to me for so long. Just when our lives were overlapping and truly connecting, it's gone. I miss her so much.
Also, I am big and uncomfortable. Despite thrice-weekly visits to the chiropractor, my back pain has not gone away. Instead it has settled into a dull ache from my skull down the left side of my neck and back that I have all the time, coupled with a numbness and tingling in my left arm and fingers. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes I have a headache too, sometimes not. Ice, neck rests and overpriced Tempur-pedic pillows help, sure, but the pain is never quite gone. Plus I am always tired and I lose my patience easily with everyone, it seems, except for Thora. At least three times a day I get offended or hurt by something poor Johnny says completely innocently and innocuously, and then he has to backpedal frantically to calm me down. Yesterday I got all bent out of shape about a tone in his voice I was so sure I heard. But rather than get frustrated with me, he got down on one knee - on the Madison Avenue Bridge in the sun no less - and begged me to understand that I was just hot and sweaty and cranky and very jumpy, and that he meant absolutely nothing by whatever tiny thing he said. Spouses should not have to deal with this. Mine deserves a medal, I swear.
These days I get especially angry at the people sitting on the 4/5 or 2/3 trains who refuse to acknowledge me when my belly and I get on to go to or from work. When I was pregnant with Thora, we lived in Brooklyn and my commute was about 25 times longer than it is now, but I always got a seat. I even got offered a seat while waiting for the trains on the platform. Not in Harlem. I would say I get offered a seat about 25% of the time. Thanks, neighbors.
The other day I had a dizzy spell on a crowded 4 train. I was on my way home from work, so I was tired. There was a Yankee game, and the train was packed. I was shoved in front of 4 people who clearly saw that I was pregnant and all of them ignored me. It was hot and the train was moving slowly and I had to press my cheek against the gross pole to try to stay cool. Most of the time I try to be understanding. I tell myself they can't tell I'm pregnant, they must be tired or sick themselves, I only have a couple stops, whatever. But that day I was furious and hurt and I took it personally. When I reached my station, I sat on the sidewalk breathing heavily until I felt well enough to walk home, and I fumed. Why did no one help me? Is it because I'm white? Tattooed? Because I get on at 86th Street? Maybe they don't notice? Or maybe they really just don't care. At least it's a short commute.
I'm at the point in my pregnancy where I just don't feel good anymore. I am full after half of a meal yet I am hungry all the time. I can't take a deep breath. It's hard to get up from a sitting position. It's hot. I'm swollen, gassy and constipated. I'm cranky a lot. I bitch. And I'm still in the second trimester!
Things that help: cool showers, baths with Thora's California Baby Overtired and Cranky aromatherapy bubble bath, flip flops, lots of Tazo Refresh mint iced tea. Also ice packs on my neck, naps near my beloved air conditioners, keeping my feet up. Wife beaters, bobby pins, and water water water. Laughing helps too, and I do have a sense of humor about it all (I think). Last week Johnny and I watched Alien for the millionth time and I had to laugh at this scene, thinking at least I don't have it this bad!
It also helps a lot to have a patient spouse and adorable daughter to distract me.
And Thora is a wonderful distraction. Her vocabulary is growing every day. She now says "Poppa" in addition to Mama and Dada. She says "up" and "juice" and "shoes" and "kiss." She'll say "walk" when she's bored of sitting in the stroller. She will tell you that a duck quacks and that a monkey says "hoo hoo hoo." She brings you a book to read and she points at letters and pictures for you to name over and over, so reading Goodnight Moon sounds more like "Bunny. Cats. Meow! Moon. Socks. Ballooon. Moon. Cow. Moon. Moon. Bunny. Brush. Cats." than it does anything else. She loves the Mo Willems pigeon but she calls him "bird." This means that when we're outside, she is amused not only by buses, trucks, and dogs but she shrieks with delight and screams "bird!" every time we see a pigeon. We live in Manhattan. There are a lot of pigeons here.
She dances all the time, sometimes with a stuffed animal and sometimes without. Lately she will bring us her stuffed animals one or two at a time so we can make them dance to keep her company. I dare you to watch these and not laugh!
Dancing to Beat It:
Dancing to the Cure with Minnie:
Making Mama, Minnie, Bird and Big Bird dance to the Cure:
She knows many more body parts now, including her ankles, tush and vagina. She also babbles all day long, making her mouth form silly sounds like she's gearing up to speak lots of other languages. Best of all, she is starting to recognize some letters and numbers. If you ask her to bring you an X, a 2, 3, 4, R, O, S and a few others, she will run to the fridge and bring you the little plastic magnet of what you asked for. She's been closing doors for weeks but today she learned how to open them too. She can go down steps by herself now, and at the park climbs up the slide to slide back down on her own.
One rainy day she ran into the park on our street. She absolutely refused to believe that the slide was too wet to play on, trying her hardest and charmingest to convince me that she should slide down it. She didn't want to take no for an answer. Then, grouchy, on the wooden stairs instead. Anyone recognize this furrow? Should I be proud that my kid looks most like me when she's cranky?
Still. How am I going to get through the next 14 weeks? After Thora was born, I thought about all the times people said "it's easier to have the baby on the inside than on the outside" and I didn't believe it. Even after she was born I didn't believe it. Having her around was a delight and it was a thousand times easier than being pregnant. Now I am not so sure. I anxiously await the birth of this baby, this girl who will hopefully have an easier entry into the world than Thora did, and make our family complete (yes, we're done after this!). Yet I don't for a second believe it will be easier to have two outside than just one, so while I'm bitching and feeling "done," this time I am even less ready for the baby than I was the first time. I am sure that will all change when I am holding her in my arms for the first time, but I've got three more months to go and a lot to do before then!