I have been pregnant for just over four months, although it sometimes feels like maybe it’s been two years. For those who know me well, the news of our impending addition probably came as something of a surprise. Donnie and I were also pretty surprised, and it’s taken some serious adjusting. I’ve never really wanted kids. I know– not a popular stance to take. It’s not because I don’t like kids, (I am obsessed with my niece and nephew), I’ve just never been able to picture myself with a newborn. To be honest, I still can’t really picture it. But after spending Mother’s Day at the Sydney Aquarium this year, watching a bunch of kiddos running around and exclaiming over penguins and giant dugongs with their parents, something in me switched. I decided that maybe one day I could actually see us with a little one.
Not to share too much information, but due to some medical issues I’ve struggled with over the last ten years, I’ve been told it would be a struggle to get pregnant, if it was even possible at all. Armed with this knowledge, we decided we should give it a year before seeking more serious medical intervention. I was mentally prepared to have a kid around age 32. Well, if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans, right? Two days after this discussion and decision– our baby girl decided to settle in for the next forty weeks, scheduled to arrive only a few months after my 30th birthday.
I was completely unprepared for how awful the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy would be. I’m convinced no one tells you because no one would actually go through with it. Morning sickness is a stupid name for the unrelenting nausea and exhaustion that lasts all day, every day. I know everyone has a different experience, but I was pretty miserable for most of that first trimester. Donnie was an absolute saint through all of the tumult and made sure I had everything I needed. I can’t emphasize how little I did for those first weeks. I really just kind of hibernated from life while Donnie handled everything. It was the middle of winter here in Sydney, so our apartment was freezing (there is no central heat, insulation, or double-paned windows in this country) and there were days when walking down the four flights of stairs to go outside was too much to handle. I also cried, a lot. I actually first suspected I might be pregnant after sobbing uncontrollably to Donnie about Lucy (our dog who stayed behind in the US) and how I needed to fly home immediately to see her and how she wouldn’t remember me when we went home. (I took a pregnancy test the next day after I realised this wasn’t a “normal” reaction to seeing a photo of your dog.)
People don’t really talk much about the negative feelings that can come with the news of a baby. Some days I was terrified, most days I worried about something happening to the baby, and some days I just wished this wasn’t happening at all. Some of these feelings were the product of the tide of hormones coursing through me, and some were just part of the adjustment process. Now that I’m safely into my second trimester, I am much more excited about the baby and much more emotionally stable than I was at first, much to my relief. The vicious cycle of ambiguous feelings about the baby, followed by immense guilt that I even felt that way at all, followed by sheer panic… there’s a reason I slept a lot those first weeks.
I also had to cancel a trip to Thailand that I’d spent weeks planning with my bestie Lane (thanks, Zika virus) which was a huge bummer. Donnie and I had booked a week in a private beachfront bure with its own pool to celebrate our anniversary in Fiji, which happens to be another Zika-infested land, so that trip was forfeited as well. We ended up having a lovely holiday to the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, but those were two trips I had dreamt of for ages and having to miss them both was a huge letdown. I was never willing to risk the health of the tiny one for a holiday, but that didn’t really make the cancellations any less disappointing.
Most days Donnie and I are still very unsure about how to actually be parents. Donnie has decided he is just going to “wing it” because “it can’t be that hard” (hahaha I’m writing this down so he can read this once we’re two weeks in) and the more I read about labor and delivery, the more firmly I decide maybe the baby can just stay in there forever. Sometimes we comfort ourselves with the thought that people dumber than us have been successful parents, so we can probably figure it out, too.
I’m really enjoying the four-month stage I’m in right now. I have lots of energy and my super-powered sense of smell has calmed down. I can eat again and I’ve picked back up with exercising, though not at the level I was pre-baby. I still have a disgusting excess of saliva (this is a real pregnancy symptom– who knew?!) and some annoying congestion, but for the most part my symptoms have departed. Donnie and I have been busy buying any baby book about wombats or Aussie animals that we can find, and we are now on a quest for adorable bear suits. (Priorities, am I right?) We’ve learned a lot more about the Australian health care system (standard hospital stay post-birth is four nights– hallelujah!) and we were fortunate to find a doctor we like and a hospital with which we feel very comfortable. Soon we’ll be shopping for prams, nappies, dummies, and bunny rugs. (Translation: strollers, diapers, pacifiers, and blankets.) Having a baby 9,000 miles away from everyone is terrifying in its own right– but luckily my mama is going to be able to come out for a while, followed by several other scheduled family visitors, which makes me feel so much more comfortable and supported. For now, we wait for our darling little girl to make her appearance.