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The Pros and Cons of Being Pregnantined

"My first pregnancy was blissful ignorance in both fantasy and reality. My second and current pregnancy looks quite different and in the midst of all of this madness, I have taken a moment to really soak in how my first stay-at-home order has affected me."

When I think of my first pregnancy this is what comes to mind: Unicorns jumping over rainbows. Me and my beautiful baby bump dancing in the wind to country music as I imagine myself having cheese and a (small) sip of spiked water while nursing my baby in a field of daisies. Sometimes Bradley Cooper would wander into this picture perfect scenario of mine, sometimes not. Either way, my first pregnancy was a bundle of blissful ignorance in both fantasy and reality.

My second and current pregnancy looks quite different. There are no unicorns, there are no rainbows or cheese in a field and there is certainly no Bradley Cooper over yonder. There is, however, my now three year old beautiful monster of a toddler, Jemma, running over my bare toe with an outside motorbike that is now an inside motorbike because the outside as we know it is no longer safe.

The Coronavirus has kept us all inside like a bunch of prisoners to our children which I can safely speak for all mothers when I say this is the second cruelest thing anyone could do to us, trailing closely behind not being able to drink while we’re pregnant. And in the midst of all of this madness, I have taken a moment to really soak in how my very first stay-at-home order has affected me personally as a pregnant mom of a toddler during COVID and I came up with a list comprised entirely of CONs. I found that it was too whiny and self-involved so I added in some PROs to even out the moaning. I’d like to share it with all the mamas out there who feel like they’re just about ready to pop, pregnant or not.

PRO: Let me take this first PRO to dive directly into the superficial: my boobs are BIG. I know all the big breasted mamas out there are rolling their eyes at this side effect blessing of mine but when you spend all of your non-pregnant life covering non-bouncy boy boobs inside your barely needed sports bra, it’s exciting to have this thing called cleavage you’ve only read about in fashion magazines.

CON: Because I am not allowed to leave my home I have nowhere to wear my low cut shirts to, and my husband is OVER me talking about how big my boobs are.

PRO: I currently do not need to spend money that I do not have on maternity clothes. I can wear my husband’s extra large Kansas City Chiefs shirt with no pants on all day every day and no one will notice.

CON: I wear my husband’s extra large Kansas City Chief’s shirt with no pants on all day every day and no one notices. Sad.

PRO: I have found my serenity in the kitchen. Cooking has always been a source of joy and calm for me and now it seems I have more time to do it. Being pregnant, I am exceedingly cautious about what goes into my body and baby so I have taken this time to spread my wings in the world of creative cuisine. I have used miso paste in pasta and made German Spaghetti and flipped homemade pizza dough in the air like they do in the movies (it landed on the floor, not the point). Not a lover of desserts, I baked muffins and banana bread for the first time and left it on my friend’s doorstep. The real sweet spot of all of this was Jemma getting her own apron and chef’s hat so we could explore this world together. And for all the times she ran over my toes with her motorbike, every “I love cooking with you, Mommy” put a band-aid right over those bruises.

CONS: Jokes on me, for my new passion has led me to inevitably cook ALL the meals, ALL the time, and for ALL the living things in my house. Jemma really only loved cooking with her mommy for five minutes until there were no more spoons to lick and it was time for her to build a train set around my feet and scream CHUGGA CHUGGA CHOO CHOO for thirty minutes while I made her Bolognese from scratch that she had three bites of. So much for serenity.

PRO: FIT4MOM virtual classes. I am not just saying this as a fierce advocate for the company, I am saying this out of the depths of my truth. This community saved me when I had Jemma because it gave me a place to go, people to meet and cry with, best friends to make, and classes that made me feel strong and healthy and capable. Now, despite this disaster we’re all in, I get to see familiar faces every morning and find some semblance of the connection we yearn for as we’re forced to be apart. It is one of the very few constants that remain a part of my life and structure and I’m blessed to have it in my life. Not to mention I need the exercise classes BAD because:

CON: I AM HUNGRY ALL OF THE TIME. I think quarantine is making everyone hungry because when you’re bored, what’s there to do but eat and drink? Pack pregnancy on top of that and it’s a real pandemic in my house. At least we can all be secure in knowing that even with this detrimental dip in our economy, Pita Chips and Pub Cheese from Trader Joes will never go out of business. You’re welcome.

PRO: No drinking. Yes, you read that right. This is in the PRO category. While every non-pregnant person I know is posting pictures of their noon o’clock cocktails, Cinco De Mayo margs and Monday morning mimosas, I am enjoying my 2% milk in my fox imprinted “for fox sake” wine glass and thinking about all of the extra calories and sugar intake I am not consuming. I am clear headed and get to actually FEEL everything that is going on, without numbing myself with an altering substance that will only give me a headache in the morning when I have to start the same day over again. I can stay alert and bright and with no bags under my eyes and I can focus on HOW BADLY I WANT A FREAKIN BEER.

CON: Everything I just wrote is a cover up for me DYING INSIDE because I have no alcohol and no outlet for my stress. Every day I walk Bailey along the same route in our neighborhood so he can see his same schedule doggie friends and I pass this awful woman (I’m sure she is lovely) sitting on a lawn chair on her front porch at noon with a seemingly engrossing novel on her lap and an ice cold corona in her hand. I’m not sure what makes me angrier: that I am pregnant and the mother of a toddler so I can’t sit on my lawn and live my best life, or that she never puts a lime in her corona.

CON: SELF-FREAKIN-CARE? There is no time for this. My gynecologist and my therapist and all the professional “ist’s” in my life are constantly telling me that I am pregnant (thanks for the reminder) and I need to find time for self-care and I say thank you as I choke on an everything bagel while trying to get a lollipop out of Jemma’s hair and make her a sandwich at the same time. What mother has time for self-care right now? It usually takes me about an hour to write a blog. This one has taken me a week. There is NO time. Whether we are working full-time, part time, or no time we are always on ALL the time as mothers, now more than ever. When are we supposed to take that run, or that virtual class or that bubble bath or that nothing? We are home schooling our kids, we are cooking meal after meal and picking up toy after toy and we are doing what we can to stimulate the ever-developing brains of our babies but we’re running out of ideas… but here’s an idea for you: Stick those kids in front of the TV and lock yourself in the closet for an entire 30 minutes. What you actually do in there is your business.

ANOTHER CON: So, I can’t drink. BFD. But being pregnant has not only taken from me my indulgent coping mechanisms, but also the ones that I actually need. I am not ashamed to admit I am used to taking medication to stabilize a fairly debilitating anxiety disorder I’ve lived with most of my adult life. I am also not ashamed to admit that I’ve made the choice to go off the meds, a choice many moms have to face when they find out they are pregnant. This choice, right or wrong, comes with a real price and the fear of the unknown in what COVID-19 can cause has catapulted my anxiety into a roller coaster of emotional distress. Like many of you, I have good days and I have bad days but never have I experienced such intense highs and such intense lows, for the virus gets inside of you whether you are infected or not and it stirs up a fear more tangible than any of us ever expected to experience in our lifetime. But then, I breathe. And I go on a run. And I desperately cling on to what’s important. Which brings me to:

PRO: Gratefulness in perspective. Yes, I am pregnant and grumpy and my weight is being distributed awkwardly in my body and I miss my parents and hugging my friends and my lower back hurts and my husband and I could potentially kill each other and Covid is giving me wrinkles and my toddler is tugging at every limb of my body and taking from me and taking from me and taking from me I simply don’t know how much more I can give. All of this is true and all of this is worthy of being bummed out about. But.

People are dying. People are losing their lives over something that is a mere inconvenience to some. People are losing their jobs and their homes and their spirit. There’s a teenager out there who was an ugly duckling and got asked to the prom by her decade long crush and now she can’t go. There’s a disabled student out there who proved everyone wrong by making it to a graduation he’ll never get to walk in. There’s a girl who has dreamt of nothing but her wedding for her entire life and now hangs a wedding dress on her wall that she’ll never get to wear. There’s a friend who lost her father to the virus and had to say goodbye to him over FaceTime because she wasn’t allowed in the hospital to give him one last hug. I think of those people and then I look down at this growing and healthy baby bump I keep complaining about, and this beautiful and precocious and curious little three year old who tugs at me because she loves me so much that she wants every single bit of me. I see my husband who witnesses my pain and my struggle and my fury and he loves me anyway. I see my parents with their masks on and thank god they’re alive. And then I think: Could this horrible disaster turn out to be some sort of intellectual blessing for all of us?

I’ll tell you my answer to that question in 5 months when I’m drinking an IPA in the post-partum delivery room with my brand new baby girl, channeling the Corona Lawn Lady and every single one of you mamas out there who is doing what we do best when things get hard; we survive.

If you are currently pregnant and need support, we are offering free prenatal classes during the month of May. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, contact your health provider or reach out to Hillside Wellness Center. They offer low cost and free mental health services for our community.