I had forgotten what tremendous upheaval a pregnancy triggers in one’s life – feelings, sensations, emotions, thoughts (hormones) turned upside down and inside out. I seem to recall my first pregnancy being more magic and sparkles than upheaval, but perhaps my recollection has faded. What is burning ferociously in my memory is the immense suffering that I’ve endured over the past 10 weeks and how much worse it was for me the second time around.
“Every pregnancy is different,” they all say. No kidding. I was prepared for four weeks of mild to moderate nausea combined with an almighty lethargy and general exhaustion. And I got it, 250% of it and more. The nausea was combined with a repugnance of all foods which was juxtaposed by a Herculean hunger and rabid need to eat a full meal every two hours. My body was screaming at me to eat but nothing looked, smelled or tasted good. It was agonised, forced consumption. The lethargy and exhaustion were so extreme, my 2-year-old’s favourite phrase of the past 3 months has been, “Mommy’s resting.” Try as I might I simply could not raise myself from the couch or even look at a computer screen on most days (amusingly, the thought of logging onto social media in particular nauseated me). Every day when my son napped, I slept hard.
One disturbing aspect of this second pregnancy which absolutely nobody warned me about was a bizarre emotional distancing that I felt from my son. Having recently returned from an extended overseas trip where I was the primary breadwinner, I settled back into full-time motherhood all gushing and loved-up about being a mommy again to the exclusion of everything else. I couldn’t get enough of my son and everything about him brought me joy. I was overflowing with love.
Almost as soon as I fell pregnant however, something seemed to change, and I’ve struggled to put it into words. Of course the deep love I have for him was still there, but it wasn’t roaring with intensity the way it was before my pregnancy. His snuggly cuddles against my skin still filled me with contentment, but they didn’t flood me with emotion like before. Even his warm, sleepy smells which I used to breathe deeply into my lungs, suddenly repulsed me. While it's true that every smell repulsed me during that time, the loss of this particular olfactory delight deeply saddened me.
Of course my rational mind scavenged for an explanation. Perhaps it was an evolutionary reflex triggered by a new pregnancy that forces the mother to distance herself from her existing children in order to devote the necessary physical and emotional resources to the developing (and much needier) child. It is certainly a fact that if it were physically possible, I wouldn’t have slowed down or rested for a single day during the first trimester, nor would I have redirected a skerrick of the attention or emotion that I lavish on my son. It seems apparent that my body and hormones have activated a primal instinct and automatically done so on behalf of my baby. Pregnancy truly is miraculous.
Today, a few weeks into my second trimester, I am cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind me. I find myself able to eat again, although precious few foods genuinely excite me (french fries anyone?); my hunger is more balanced and predictable; my joie de vivre is returning; I finally have the mental acuity to write again; and I am free to bask in the sunshine of genuine joy without the shroud of sickness suffocating me like a heavy storm cloud. Perhaps most rewarding for my soul, the fierceness of love that I feel for my son is returning to its previous intensity. I can only wonder what will happen to my feelings after I give birth, when the cyclone of hormones wreaks havoc on my emotions.
Would anyone out there with multiple children care to comment? Does the intensity of feelings for your existing children lessen with the birth of a new child or does your capacity to love just increase proportionally? How does your heart not explode?
Looked death in the eye. Then never looked back. I left the city for the mountains. Left the corporate world for the ski industry. Met the man of my dreams. Gave birth to my heart and soul. Juggling mummyhood, skiing, consulting and blogging. Loving it.