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Feeling the (E)Motions

People say you forget the pain of childbirth. That’s so when you’re trying to decide if you want more children, the labor/delivery experience won’t be a contributing factor. You’ll just remember cradling a tiny, fragile newborn in your arms and the blissful bonding that begins the moment you gaze into their eyes. All the exhausting/painful/messy/emotional roller coaster parts will be nothing more than background static in an otherwise tender reel of memories.

HA. I haven’t forgotten a thing. Lucky for #2, the joys of parenting outweigh the bad parts a thousandfold, or E would be an only child for sure. Even my mostly normal, healthy labor and delivery was not without its dose of high drama, and E’s infancy can only be described as harrowing. J and I used to sort-of-joke that babies like her were the reason people used birth control. Nope, the memories are right there, all mixed up with the great ones. No one’s pulling a fast one on me.

Feeling connected to pregnancy isn’t something that comes naturally to me. With E, it was the same way. While other women were talking to their bellies and playing their unborn children Mozart, I could never fully wrap my head around what was going on inside. I fell in love with E the moment I saw her face, but even experiencing childbirth didn’t help me connect the dots between the previous nine months and the infant I held in my arms in the delivery room. The stork could have wheeled her down the hall in a bassinet himself and I’d have been just as joyful, and just as confused.

I was hoping to feel more in sync with the baby inside me this time around. Nope. I’m still at the stage where I forget I’m pregnant, and when I do remember it’s mostly an inconvenience. Damn, I can’t drink that, eat that, wear that, go there, run that far, etc. Knowing the joy that’s waiting for me on the other side should be helpful, but I’m still struggling to feel “radiant with new life” and not “stuffed with heartburn-inducing alien.” Pregnancy is making me feel disconnected from the world and disconnected from myself. I’m not who I was before, but I’m not at all comfortable with the person I am now. It feels like limbo, the space between wanting to be a parent and actually becoming one. I remember all of this, and it’s just as disconcerting as it was before.

But here’s what I did forget: the miraculous feeling of being pregnant. Beyond the complaining and the swelling, the mood swings and the aches and the chronic exhaustion (and believe me, I forgot none of that, either) there’s this life growing inside me, and it feels just as bizarre and amazing as it did the first time.

I’d forgotten the combined jolt of panic and joy I experienced the first time I could feel the baby moving inside me.  I didn’t remember how entertaining it was to push my stomach in different directions and feel the baby squirm in confusion. Did it always feel so good to put my feet up after a long day and, the second I felt my own body relax, feel the baby spring into somersaults and back flips?

This was my favorite part of pregnancy--and I’m glad I forgot. Sometimes I get mad at myself for the “been there, done that” attitude I slip into this time around. I get frustrated that I haven’t been able to connect to this baby while he’s still inside. I can’t get these moments back--I have to start cherishing them while I can. I needed a cosmic reminder that pregnancy isn’t something to be jaded about, or spend the whole time wishing it was over. The little one inside me isn’t just E’s brother, he’s his very own little person waiting to come out.

I’d love to hear your stories about bonding for the first time with your little ones, whether they were outside or in. When did you first connect to your pregnancy? Was it right in the beginning, or was it a slow process? When did you first feel the baby move--and did it help?

Visit Jenny's personal blog Karma, Continued.