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Struggling to Feel Grateful

23w, 3d. Like approximately half the Internet, I was struck by Glennon Melton’s “Don’t Carpe Diem” essay on her blog Momastery earlier this year. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. The essay is written in response to all of the folks who tell her (a mom of three young kids), to enjoy every moment because time goes by so quickly.

She wrote, “This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.” Amen.

I feel that way most days—I’m grateful at the end of the day, when my sons are in bed, and we have all survived—but I’m rarely able to find myself grateful in the moment, in the middle of those days, when I look down to find a small person wiping his nose on my pants and then look up to find a slightly bigger small person half-a-block ahead of me, weaving in and out of crowds on the sidewalk, heading toward traffic. And during this pregnancy, which I am ridiculously grateful for and wanted tremendously (a daughter? a daughter! I still can’t believe that I finally get to have a daughter—how my mom would have loved having a granddaughter), and longed for when I wasn’t pregnant—well, I’m a little sad to think that I’m going to have enjoyed this a lot more when I look back on these days than I do while living through them.

I’m older this time around (34!), and pregnancy seems to be taking its toll on my body. From the high blood pressure that freaked everyone out—midwives, husband envisioning his pregnant wife dying of a stroke and leaving him with two young children to raise, me—to anemia, the seemingly endless series of rashes (now everywhere that’s been exposed to the sun seems to be insanely itchy), and the spider veins that continue to turn purple and swell, leading even strangers to ask what I’ve done to myself, it hasn’t been easy. I’m never a good sleeper during pregnancy, but my kids seem to have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that I rise daily before 5 am, and I’m perpetually exhausted. I’ve gained 15 pounds thus far, but it feels like I’m hauling around three times that.

And so while I am terribly grateful to be carrying this daughter of mine, and I don’t want her to come out until she’s good and ready nearly four months from now, I’m having a hard time enjoying what I know will be my final pregnancy, despite wanting it so much. While I’ve definitely slowed down in the final months of pregnancy the last two times, I was never someone who loathed being pregnant—in fact, I loved it. I felt (and continue to feel) grateful (there’s that word again) that I’m able to get pregnant and carry a healthy baby to term, something I know that not everyone who wants to is able to achieve; it is not something I take for granted. And there are those tremendous moments of joy when feeling the baby kick or glide around inside my belly—the moments where I must look like the cat who just swallowed a mouse, as though I have a delicious secret I’m hiding—and those I guess are the moments I will try to cling to when this is all over. I know I will forget how heavy my belly and legs feel at the end of the day, how exhausted my feet are, how tired I look… What I hope I can seize for future reflection are those secret moments between my daughter and me while she’s still inside, the start of our relationship before we truly know each other, the knowledge that I loved her before I ever met her… 

Were you someone who enjoyed every minute of being pregnant, or did you struggle to feel grateful for the experience? Leave a comment .