The last week of my second trimester is upon me, and I have been inspired to pause and look back over the whole of my pregnancy so far. One thing is really clear. This is a time of paradox. Time moves too slowly but too quickly. I am autonomous and yet tethered.
Time is a strange concept in normal life and even stranger in pregnancy. The early days of pregnancy seemed to last forever; Fear of losing the baby, nausea, uncertainty about the health of the fetus, and anticipation for what seems like forever ahead make the beginning of pregnancy move slowly.
The second trimester has been a mix of slow and fast. The month long wait between doctor’s appointments and the growth of my belly have seemed to take forever. And yet, when I think about the last three months, time has flown. We moved into a new house and adopted a puppy. Our little puppy is now big. He used to fit under my legs when they were up on the table. Now I swear it seems like he could jump over them, but there’s no way he could squeeze under them. We’ve torn down walls, painted, shelved and furnished our office, received furniture for the rest of the house, built raised beds and dug an 8 inch deep path through our front lawn. So much has happened!
At this threshold between the second and third trimesters I’m torn. On one hand, I recognize that in 13 weeks, give or take a couple, I will no longer be able to swim, garden, call friends, or write when I want. My life will become tethered with that of Blueberry’s. In her book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, Elizabeth Gilbert says that “love limits, almost by definition. Love narrows. The great expansion we feel in our hearts when we fall in love is matched only be the great restrictions that will necessarily follow.” I still struggle with elements of this in my marriage. I can only imagine what it’s like with a child.
Part of me needs to celebrate the freedom of movement I have now. My marriage was one step towards restriction. Now my first child is another. Yet I have been awaiting this limitation for such a long time, recognizing that it will change my life in ways that I cannot imagine. Gilbert discusses this as a biding and a taming, like a bonsai. She says, “bonsai can live for centuries, and their unearthly beauty is a direct result of such constriction, but nobody would ever mistake a bonsai for a free-climbing vine.” The route I have chosen is one that will prune me into a different Sara than that of the one who would not have had a child.
I face this with both some trepidation and real excitement. I await the experience of raising Blueberry with open arms, recognizing that I will no longer be the same after she is here.
Early in my second trimester, it was like I was not pregnant. With my body’s transformation has come the constant reminder that I am no longer alone. Blueberry kicks, and when she doesn’t, I worry a little. Our lives are becoming more intertwined day by day, a sort of gentle and daily reminder that I am not really quite as independent as I used to be. When I swim, I need to rest a little more. I tried to get out of the pool pulling myself out by the side of the pool rather than using a ladder, and the extra 12 pounds of me and Blueberry made it a real challenge.
Looking forward, I can see that time is going to move so quickly what with all the things we are doing in the house as well as the prenatal classes and meetings with the people who will be helping with our labor and delivery. Yet time will move so slowly as my body expands, I become more uncomfortable, and I anticipate meeting the Blueberry who has already grown to at least 9.5 inches and 2 pounds.
One friend shared with me that she wished that she really tried to relish the time of her labor more (and then she wrote about it in her blog). Her reflection to me reminded me of how hard it is to live in the moment. It also struck me that in order to enjoy the moment, you have to be prepared. When J and I planned our wedding, we tried our best to make it so that the day of the wedding, we could enjoy every moment. We planned as best as we could, and then on the wedding day, we made a conscious decision to leave the worrying to other people.
How can I do the same thing for my third trimester? I can appreciate the slowness of time and try to get as much as I can out of it even as it speeds by. I can use this last trimester to enjoy my autonomy and yet to capture and remember what I can of the whole experience by writing about and documenting it and doing the things that I love to do. It is my greatest desire to honor the paradoxes.