At 36 weeks, the past few months flew by and I can’t believe that I am almost at the end of this amazing journey. I am also currently on maternity leave and have spent the past week nesting and resting. I made a mid-length checklist of all the things I want to accomplish during this time. Not all of it really is about the baby. Some are personal things that I have put off because of work and this pregnancy, while some of the items involve working on our home project.
Since there is some uncertainty on the actual date of moving, there is also a bit of anxiety over the extent of what to prepare, clean, pack, prioritize, etc. Our little set-up at our apartment is very intimate and flexible. As much as I want to go all out in the preparations, I need to exercise a level of restraint and avoid adding more expenses prior to the baby’s birth and moving into our new place. But really, I don’t want to complain.
There is also some solace in this precious time of waiting, anticipating, and preparing. I get to mull over what I’ve been through and how it has led me to this point: all 35 lbs of weight gain and bloat, a baby in the 90th percentile (means that 90% of the rest of the babies weigh less), and all the other new firsts that came with this personal journey.
THE BAD AND UGLY
When I recall all the ugly bits, I am brought back to the horrors of the first trimester — debilitating nausea, unbearable fatigue, the need to be cautious with everything you do/consume/walk into, and horrible food aversions. It was like I could not recognize my body anymore because I was feeling all sorts of new things internally that just kind of shocked my senses. I sort of open up about it in my previous post.
By the time I’ve reached the third trimester, my belly ballooned and all the physical tolls that came with it just made days and nights quite challenging. I already knew there was a chance I’d have a big baby just because of genetics. My husband and I were both 8.5 lbs babies. I learned early on that she was growing pretty much ahead. Even our 4D scan just showed that our baby had long limbs. Also, all my tests for gestational diabetes (I had several) turned out negative. She is just going to be the big strong baby that we pray she is.
There is something about the third trimester that consumes you both physically and emotionally. The usual complaints were definitely there — waking up in the middle of the night to pee and find a comfortable position to sleep in, consistently being out of breath, wrist/leg/pelvic pains, etc. I have never been this huge before and the thought of my fitter and stronger pre-pregnancy body already feels like that was a couple of lifetimes ago. But, we will get there someday.
The emotional anxieties did not veer far behind. From simple anxiety-inducing moments of choosing an outfit every morning to larger more significant issues such as coming home after a not-so-ideal follow-up with the OB, determining the kind of parenting style, and powerful thoughts on sustainable living. Our Filipino culture and society also do not do pregnant women any favors at times. Comments, judgments, and a crapload of unsolicited advice ranging from your body, parenting, and even your unborn baby can get very unnerving. Conflicting generational issues involving pregnancy and parenting can be a challenge to address to them.
There are a million and one things that you think about while preparing to have the baby and the hefty price tag that comes with it. It’s true. It is expensive to have a baby. The expenses accumulate even before you actually hold your baby in your arms. The expenses also cover your health, the household, and your family’s future. With what is out there, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and go crazy. (I may be guilty at times.) But there are also a lot of ways to be practical and savvy about it, if you do your research and commit to it. I’m not so sure I am the best person to talk about that though.
THE GOOD IS REALLY GOOD
And although I find myself in a moment of weakness publicly declaring (mostly to my husband) that I hate being this pregnant at certain times, I would be lying if I did not say that it has been the most humbling, gratifying, unbelievable nine months.
Your first pregnancy is such a life-defining moment regardless of all the circumstances surrounding it. It will change you. Those nine months were beautifully designed not just to allow miracles to happen inside of you every single day, but to slowly open your heart to even greater miracles ahead. The first heartbeat is such a special moment. Knowing the gender (in our case, it was a pretty interesting story) makes it so real. The first distinctive baby “kick” will enthrall you. Seeing your baby in 4D at 28 weeks will drive your heart over the emotional edge. All these little milestones and knowing her continuing growth inside of you for months is incredibly powerful. I now understand why maternity shoots, elaborate baby showers or gender-reveals, and daily IG stories of my kid-obsessed mommy friends are a “thing.” I GET IT, GUYS!
I really can’t gauge how much maternal instinct I have. I can only compare it to people I know whom I believed naturally had it. My husband thinks I can’t really take care of myself at times (I beg to differ, always). Also, I am hardly a typical domesticated person. But I guess roles are blurred nowadays that some traditional marriage archetypes have slowly dissipated in today’s modern society. I might blame it on hormones, but this pregnancy has got me on a maternal overdrive. Every political, environmental, societal, cultural issue is not just merely understood in a legal or ethical way as my profession entails, but is now currently tainted with powerful thoughts on ‘how this issue affects me as a mom while raising a kid and nurturing a family.’ How these thoughts naturally pass through my head without proper contemplation just escape me. I knew things are different. I am different.
The physical changes are hard. You will feel disgusting, limited and, incapable at least once. And as you try to wrap your head around it by trying to face the truth that you are growing a human inside of you, you will find yourself feeling extremely humbled. This is such an awesome, emotional, (probably) hormone-driven feeling that affirms and reminds you of your new purpose. You’re sharing heartbeats and listening to the same sound. The least you can do is to not just take care of yourself but to love yourself more than ever.
One of the best parts about my entire pregnancy journey, so far, is how it is consistently enriching our marriage. We’ve just been married for almost a year now and we both agree that we have been immensely blessed since. During those difficult moments (which we still have), we try to remember that and more. When I am unable to be myself and do the usual things that I have been regularly doing before, I did not think I could ever witness more patience, generosity, and love from my (not-so-patient/easily-triggered) husband. Those moments bring out a special kind of intimacy that I have never experienced before. I guess this pregnancy has also changed him. It has changed our dynamics, and I have no doubt it will change even more once we are finally a family of three. In the meantime, I am trying to savor the remaining time of just US before D-DAY comes.
Bringing a baby into this world may sound daunting. But the outpour of love for us and for our baby from those people around you and your family makes it absolutely worthwhile. Less than a month ago, my family hosted a baby shower at Maria Luisa Secret Room inside the Makati Garden Club where I got to spend time with my friends and do a simple photoshoot with our photographer, Jun Estancio. A few photos from the event are below. Thank you so much to all our family and friends who’ve shared their time and gifted our baby. 😊
Image Credits: Jun Estancio