19 weeks, 6 days
Let’s talk about pregnancy apathy, and why I’ve not been blogging during my pregnancy. I have hesitated to write about this in a public forum, because I was afraid that someday my children may read it and think I was some kind of heartless creature. The more I considered it though, the more I believed that I’d rather my kids know that I’m a real person for whom things are not always perfect, that it’s ok to openly struggle with things and most importantly that (even though they don’t completely exist at the time I write this), I will love them unconditionally.
What do I mean when I say apathy, exactly? To be blunt, I feel emotionally detached from the person I’m currently growing in my womb; like I swallowed a baby pill and I’m just waiting for it to pass through some kind of gestational digestive system so that I can expel it and get on with my life. I feel monstrous just saying that sort of thing out loud and I’m finding that I have accompanying and overwhelming feelings of guilt as a result.
I am familiar with the mommy-to-be websites and blogs, well-known and otherwise (thebump.com, babycenter.com, rookiemoms.com, etc) as well as the aforementioned “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and though I find them to be incredibly helpful in regards to week-by-week information or baby registry tips, I have found most of them to be woefully lacking in the emotional side effect department. I was relieved to discover, after some simple Googling, that not only are there many women who also experience intense apathy (is that an oxymoron?) during their pregnancy, but that many of them are bloggers just like myself. In particular, this blog entry on Epinions from 2006 seemed to speak right to me. I found myself somewhat comforted that there were other women who were experiencing the very same thing.
Like the author, Joyfulgirl91 (whose account is sadly inactive now…I was hoping to contact her and thank her), my pregnancy was entirely planned. My husband and I both pined to begin a family and I diligently began tracking my ovulation in December of 2011.
Pre-pregnancy, I would not have classified myself as the type to struggle with long bouts of depression. I’ve had my share of ups and downs (not to mention my share of cynicism and sarcasm) but am generally optimistic when it comes to most things. During my first trimester, I was under the impression that the nausea and the bloating and the mood swings were the root cause of my generally gross emotions and that once I was out of the proverbial weeds I’d see a turnaround in my mood. I’m finding though, now that I’m barely shy of 20 weeks, that I can’t shake this maternity rut I’m in.
20 weeks into this journey toward motherhood I feel less motherly than ever. My parents had to put our 16 year old black lab to sleep in September and I still get choked up thinking about him, but when we saw the baby’s face at our last ultrasound, all I could muster was clinical interest in the sophistication of modern diagnostic tools. I am upset that my body is no longer my own, that my clothes don’t fit, that my diet is restricted, my ability to exercise clipped and that in general, my lifestyle has had to change rather drastically. I am not obsessing over names or nursery patterns, or finding mommy groups and pregnancy yoga classes, nor have I considered what my birth plan will be beyond “get the baby out of me.” I have registered for baby items in accordance with social expectations, but stuck only to the bare necessities. This reaction is selfish, and it’s likely that it’s linked to some sort of issue with control or anxiety. I’m not a psychotherapist, but that notion doesn’t seem like a far leap to me.
I do feel very guilty, as I mentioned. There are women everywhere who long to conceive, bear and raise children but who are unable to do so as a result of any number of complications, physical, economic or otherwise; parents all over the place who are dying to start a family but cannot. In addition, it’s downright HARD to get pregnant in the first place (despite what the relentless indoctrination most people receive in grade school may have led them to believe) and there are approximately 1,000,000 things that can go wrong. From fertilization through implantation and all the way to birth, the staggering amounts of possible causes of fetal termination are nothing short of mind-boggling. And still, here’s me, despite ALL of those things, unable to find it in my character to be thankful.
I really related to this blog excerpt: “I know there are women who desperately want to conceive, but that made me about as pleased with my pregnancy as the starving children in China made me want to finish my vegetables as a child. My response was about the same: they can have it.”
When people find out that I’m pregnant, the second question they always ask me (since the first is, of course, ‘is it a boy or a girl?’) is if I’m SO EXCITED. My response? Bold-faced lies every time…that we’re (I’m) thrilled and can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy…mostly because I don’t want to go through the long and uncomfortable explanation about why I’m actually not excited at all. TJ has said on several occasions that he wishes he could be more physically connected to my pregnancy, and I wish in return that I could give it to him.
I’ve spoken to him at length about this very issue and he is unabashedly supportive and understanding, which is very comforting to me. I’ve even told a few close friends and my doctor about it because I think it’s important to share things about yourself that you might not entirely understand. Both friends and physicians have assured me that I’m not abnormal or inhuman (in fact, I learned that many women don’t bond with their babies until weeks after birth) and even though it hasn’t quelled my pregnancy apathy, I do feel better knowing that someone else knows.
Unlike Joyfulgirl91, I’ve not found that my level of engagement with my pregnancy has helped much. I continue to take care of myself and I’m not behaving recklessly in any way, but I don’t know that I’m any better (emotionally speaking) for the effort. I have no plans to abandon my efforts at engagement, but my expectations are low. For now, I am simply taking it one day at a time.
Perhaps this blog will evolve into something other than my original intentions. I won’t make promises to update more often because I can’t guarantee that I’ll feel the need to; my posting track record speaks for itself (besides, let’s be honest: no one reads this, other than my husband.) I will promise to try and remain frank and open about what I’m experiencing.
Check out “Not Everyone Bonds with Their Unborn Baby: Coping With My Uninvited Guest” to read the entire blog post from Joyful91. And if by some chance you know how to get in touch with that gal, let me know.