Third time’s a charm, they say, and for Alec and me the cliched saying rings true. I’m approaching week 17 of my third pregnancy—and (fingers crossed) my first successful one.
I’ve had it easy. While some women spend their whole pregnancy laid up in bed, I’ve remained happy and healthy, aside from a few normal symptoms.
Yet no one escapes pregnancy without some physical changes, and although I’m still not even halfway I have already learned a few important lessons from pregnancy.
1. I’m learning to love my body. Before I even got pregnant I’d been gaining weight. At some point in the last year I had started to outgrow my former youthful metabolism. The pounds racked up. My legs got flabby and my stomach softened. My lack of exercise became obvious.
So I stopped wearing form-fitting clothes. I sucked in my tummy when I walked to the break room at work. Alec assured me that I still looked great. But what really changed my attitude was seeing pregnancy start to change my body.
My belly has started to grow. And having visual evidence of this life inside me—till now a somewhat abstract idea—has thrilled me so much that I’ve found myself dressing to accentuate it. Doesn’t matter that strangers probably still think I’m just chubby! All these changes point to the baby I’ve been waiting for.
Sometimes I do worry about the after-effects of these nine months. Will my stretch marks fade? Will I lose the extra weight? But in the meantime I’m embracing my body, despite blue spider veins and a round belly and each new wave of acne.
2. I’m learning to trust my body. Pregnancy is an exercise in faith: faith in biology, faith in your own body.
After two miscarriages within the space of one year, I lost trust my body. But I can’t spend every waking moment worried that this pregnancy too has failed. I have to forget those feelings of betrayal.
In some periods of pregnancy you can tell that your body is changing, and in some periods you see nothing new at all. You have to be grateful for whatever signs you do notice—nausea, leg cramps, fatigue—and patiently wait for the precious moments when you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat or see her growing body in an ultrasound.
There will be situations when your body fails you, but until that actually happens, have a little faith. Trust that biology will do its work. Trust that your body will do its job.
3. I’m learning to listen to my body. Anyone who knows me knows I’m no athlete or health nut.
But as my pregnancy has progressed I’ve been forced to attune myself to what my body says—I can’t just gorge myself on Panda Express without a subsequent need to vomit. I can’t sit in the same spot for hours without my rear end getting sore. I have to drink more water and I have to eat more fruit. I have to stretch my legs but at the same time avoid over-exerting myself. If I don’t listen to my body, I experience immediate consequences.
So I spend more time now thinking about how I feel, what I eat, how much physical activity I engage in. I watch for abnormal symptoms. I wait for the first flurries of movement inside me.
I commune with my body.
I know how lucky I am to have this experience. So many people who want to carry a child cannot, and so many people who do get pregnant suffer from debilitating conditions as a result. Positive pregnancy experiences are not universal, but growing a life inside yourself inevitably teaches you something new about your body.