My misery enjoyed little company. I started to distrust every woman, including close friends, who didn’t feel sick during pregnancy. In the glaring light of their glowing selves, I felt like a toad.
Around 18 weeks in, the nausea relented. Ian thought we had turned a corner the night I came home from work and said, “I want steak and potatoes and I want it now.”
I wanted him too. All day and all night, I dreamed of sex. What kind of cruel joke was this, giving a woman the libido of a minx and the body of a bovine?
But my aversion to being pregnant went beyond the physical. A former extreme tomboy/athlete carrying life inside me, fattening up and slowing down, triggered an identity crisis.
Normally lean and boyish, upon conception the female inside me is undeniable. I become a Rubenesque fertility wench, a thick layer of flesh evenly distributed across my entire body and pendulous breasts protruding, funhouse like, from my usually- humble chest. The extra fat, meant to protect the baby, felt to me like a soft cloak of vulnerability.
If pregnant women are big as houses, I was a Mcmansion. Suddenly those giant underthings they sell at Motherhood didn’t look so cartoonish to me anymore.
My hatred of pregnancy nagged at me. How could something so natural, something that women have been doing since the beginning of time, feel so wrong? Had I made a bad choice? Would I make a bad mother? Or, worse yet, would I have a “bad” child?
My second pregnancy wasn’t the same. It was worse.
What kept me going was Esther, my first born. From a young age she reveled in her femininity. She resided in her little woman’s body as if she had lived there since the beginning of time. I was her inspiration. And she was mine.
Esther marveled at my ripeness. In the bath, she would sit behind me, reach her slippery arms as far as she could around my colossal belly and say, “Mummy you’re amazing.”
Maybe, but I still remember looking into my newborn second daughter’s eyes and thinking,
“I am never, ever, doing that again.”
Now that I’m standing on top of this mountain I so gracelessly clambered up, I’m confronted with a panoramic view of motherhood. At times it’s stunning. At other times it’s terrifying. I look back and see the route I took to get here, and feel amazed that I made it here at all.
While I still tend to agree with Ali the mechanic– my pregnancies were far from beautiful– I do think beauty is overrated.