Monday, January 16, 2012

the bond of pregnancy

Pregnancy is a funny thing. In one way, it is a very isolating experience given you are the only one who can go through it. No one can join you in all the aches and pains, the worries and fears that keep you up at night, the months of nausea, the magic and bonding between you and your unborn baby, the bizarre sensation of all your body parts stretching, moving, and morphing into a completely new arrangement, the crazy impatience and excitement, or the intense odyssey that is childbirth. Sure, you can look to others to emotionally support you through all of that, you can find hands to hold and shoulders to cry on. But, ultimately, it's all yours. 

At the same time, pregnancy bonds you to others in a profound way, a completely unique way, an ever-lasting way. You may feel more connected to and appreciative of your own parents. You may feel closer than previously possible to the women in your life who have children. You may feel a deeper kind of affection for other people's children. And then there is your spouse. This is the person who is in the trenches with you, the one who shares those hilarious/gross/surprising/troubling moments when your body does something unexpected, the one who witnesses the ebb and flow of your insane hormones, the one who brings you a glass of water after you regurgitate your supper, the one who hears that tiny heartbeat for the first time with you….the one who has given you the gift of half their DNA, the one whose love melted with yours to create this little being that only the two of you can share a similar experience of.

I was reflecting back on the experience of conceiving and being pregnant with my husband the other night as I prepared to leave for a 4-day trip up to Saratoga. As I mentioned last week, I was run out of my house by an insanely invasive construction project that made this a completely unmanageable environment for a pregnant lady. But, it was so hard to leave. My hormones were shouting "don't leave your nest!" and my heart was aching in a way that felt familiar, yet somehow entirely new. The whole time I was away I needed to hear my husband's voice on the phone 3 times a day in order to remain sane.

My husband and I have been ridiculously attached to one another since our very first date. We admittedly don't like to spend much time away from one another and have a rule to never be apart more than 5-7 consecutive days, which honestly very rarely ever happens. And when we are together at home, we can usually be found holding hands, hugging, snuggling or the like at constant intervals (this is, of course, broken up by us spending time alone doing our own thing because, ironically, I would go nuts without my space and time alone). But, since I've been pregnant, the dynamic has shifted. I seem more detached, less affectionate, more introspective and less talkative to my husband. The interesting thing is, though, I've never felt more attached to him. I may act more aloof, but I need him in ways I cannot explain. He is the only one who has seen the cumulative experience, the one who understands (as much as is possible) my current (yet constantly changing) emotional state, my needs, and my limitations….and more importantly, he doesn't pass judgement on any of it. He is the one who talks to this baby as much as I do, the one who knows what my pregnant body looks like naked, the one who cooks my meals and rubs my back, the one who has become so protective of me and his unborn child.

My trip away last week brought me back home to my husband. It was a chance to reflect on this journey, and realize that we're doing all right despite the craziness that is our life. Things have changed, for sure, but we are in this together regardless of whether we fall asleep spooning or with me pushing his arm off of me because my pregnant body needs space. And we love each other in a way that we couldn't before all this began.  

Relationships change when you have a child. That I knew. But, what I've experienced is that they begin to shift and change from the moment you decide to try to conceive. Every relationship I have now feels different—it's a wonderful, confusing, life-altering, surprising thing. I feel as if my life and environment are being stretched, moved and morphed into an entirely new arrangement along with my body parts. And somehow, I just know that all of these changes are setting the foundation for a new life to begin—not just the life of my unborn baby girl, but the life I was meant to live. My relationships with others will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same. This is the beginning, and I wouldn't want to have anyone other than my husband by my side.

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