Getting older always has a certain nostalgia that comes with it. Birthdays come and birthdays go. They seem to sneak up quicker and quicker year after year. I think to myself, “It’s April already?” Every. Single. Year. It’s as though after a couple of decades on this Earth I still don’t have a concept of time. Time seems so relative. The days drag on, but the weeks fly by, and all of a sudden, I’m another year older, hopefully a little more wiser, but definitely a lot more sarcastic. I always try to think back on the year that I’ve had and reflect on that.
But this year was hard to that.
Last year, I ran 35 miles for my 35th birthday. When we had found out I was pregnant Dec 2020, I wanted to announce it after a long run because, how typical of me right? I had it all planned out in my head. I had a route with a shape as a clue. I had plans of what to wear, which was “something with baby feet on my shirt, or a ‘running for two’ saying.” I wanted to try and be cool like Taylor Swift and drop some secret Easter egg hints for the few days leading up to my race. I knew I would have been visibly showing at that point, but with COVID, I wasn’t really seeing much of anyone anyway, so keeping the pregnancy as a surprise would have been easy.
And then I miscarried.
That birthday run was the most mentally challenging run I have ever done. Yes, it would have been mentally challenging either way, as 35 miles is no small feat, but I was also carrying that heaviness with me that I was no longer pregnant. That heaviness almost caused me to give up multiple times. It’s hard to describe, you know? That pain that you feel in your body because you know something is missing. Someone is missing. It’s just lost. Forever. Knowing you can never get that back is a grief that is unfair. And it never goes away. It just becomes a new normal. The grief will always come in waves. Healing isn’t linear. I thought I was doing okay the first half of my run. But the closer and closer I had got to the end of that 35 miles, the harder it was to hold it together.
The first thing I said after finishing that run was, “I’m not running 36 miles next year. 3.6 miles sounds like a better plan.”
Well, on April 4th, 2022, my 36th birthday, I did not run that 3.6 miles. I did however have time to sit with my feelings and emotions. I’ve looked back at just how much has changed since April 4th, 2021. I quit drinking (323 days ago), I changed my last name, Ian sold his house, we adopted Lampo, we went through fertility testing, we found out Ian’s next job is in Virginia, we had an IUI done, and we found out it was successful… and that only brings us to New Years.
The amount of roller-coaster loops and highs and lows that we’ve been through just really feels like a bit of whiplash. I’ve had people ask me, “How’s it going?” or “how is pregnancy?” Or just wanting some updates. They’ve been hard to answer. How do you say, “Well this birthday I should have a baby in my arms” without sounding like you’re not grateful to be pregnant? How do you say, “I hate being pregnant” when you’ve wanted nothing more than to grow your family, and you’re so excited to have a baby, but the being pregnant part is awful? How do you respond to people who say, “Enjoy this birthday before baby comes” or “This is your last birthday before you become a mother” without responding with something rude or sarcastic about how you are a mother, even though your child isn’t earth side.
It’s hard. It’s so hard. Because the last thing I want is for people to ever tiptoe around me. I never want that. I hear a lot, “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” But the truth is, neither do I. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want every response to “how are you” to be something negative. “i’m sick of being pregnant,” “I’m nauseous again. I thought the second trimester was supposed to be better?” “I’m pretty tired of all these headaches.” “I hate that I can’t run. In fact, I feel a little depressed about it.” “I’m just trying to make it to the next appointment when I can see baby again to know they are okay.”
It’s a constant struggle for me, too. Where is that line of just being fully raw and transparent and honest that if stepped over becomes someone who is a whiner and complainer and a pessimist? When does someone’s bravery turn into “she just wants attention?”
Sorting out these feelings and emotions can be consuming. I’m in a pregnancy after loss group. And what I’ve learned is that I’m not alone. The anxiety of a pregnancy after loss is just… it’s just out of this world. It’s hard to fully encapsulate everything that you’re feeling. It’s even hard to sort out on paper. One minute I’m terrified to go to the bathroom because I have slight pressure, and the next I’m ready to look up bassinets. One minute I can’t stop crying because I’m not at viability week yet and I’m just waiting for something to go wrong, and the next I’m thinking if our child will have my eyes or Ian’s.
The one thing I’ve learned in my group is that most of us have not enjoyed our pregnancies very much. “You’ll feel better in the second trimester” just feels like a joke. I’m 18 weeks and feeling worse than my first trimester. But I’m learning that it’s okay to not enjoy being pregnant. Our bodies are literally growing another human. It’s not supposed to be easy. Our organs are rearranging themselves to make more room for the baby. The round ligament and back pain is horrendous. (Thank you child for your head being at my back.) while I know growing a baby means putting on some weight, that doesn’t make it easier. Gaining weight is hard, even when it’s supposed to happen. I have a visible bump now, so I no longer fit comfortably in my jeans or leggings that aren’t high-waisted. My skin is dry and itchy. I’m getting headaches what feels like every other day. i feel guilty because I don’t have the energy to give Lampo the attention and time that he deserves. I’m more tired than I ever have been. My emotions are ALL over the place. And I’m just absolutely sick of being nauseous. Every. Single. Day. I’ve already joked with Ian and said, “if we had a buttload of money, our second child would be through a surrogate. I’m not incubating the second one.”
Pregnancy is hard. I’ve felt so guilty for hating being pregnant. But the group I’m in is really good at reminding each other that you don’t have to enjoy being pregnant to be an amazing parents. I have to remind myself of this often.
So for my birthday this year, I decided that I’d be open and honest about how I was feeling, even if it’s just another negative update, because really, my goal with sharing isn’t for pity. I don’t want it. I just want one more person to feel less alone if they are in the worst girl gang ever with infertility and/or pregnancy after loss. And also, to finally start back with my at home workouts. I KNOW the benefits squats and lunges and such have. I’ve had my doctor’s okay since week 9.
April 4th, 2022 I spent doing 36 minutes of a workout and stretching for my 36th birthday.
And I was happy with that.
Workout: It’s pregnancy friendly, but anyone can do this, especially if you are looking for a low-impact, no jumping leg workout.
(and this should go without saying, but because there are trolls on the internet, please make sure to get your doctor’s okay if you’re pregnant. Everyone is different. And also, if you feel like telling a pregnant person they shouldn’t be working out, and you’re not their friend or doctor, just kindly keep it to yourself, thankyouverymuch. )