As much as there have been daily freak-outs, massive bouts of confusion and paralyzing information overload from the deluge of advice we have been punished with as clueless expectant parents, there have also been some bright sides to the eight months which we have survived so far.
So while it can feel cathartic to complain about everything that has been horrible, I thought it was time for some focused positivity on this blog. Here’s a list of my favorite things about our first pregnancy:
It’s an adrenaline trip. There is absolutely nothing that gets your adrenaline rushing quite like the idea that you have offspring on the way. Simultaneously petrifying and mind-blowingly exciting, the idea that my own baby girl will look me in the eye in a month’s time is surreal.
Your imagination runs wild. For better or for worse, I am not big on obsessing over worst-case scenarios in life. So while horror stories of complicated births do get me hyperventilating from time to time, I spend most of my time visualizing downright sunny scenarios: hanging out with Journie at the park; (attempts at) teaching Journie Swedish; taking her on her first international trip; going on all the boring, baby-appropriate rides at Disneyland and still loving it. I seriously can’t wait.
Your relationship with your partner grows (sometimes painfully). We’ve definitely had our share of fights and tense moments but now that we are almost at term, I can easily see that we’ve come a long way. Countless overly-animated-and-completely-naive conversations, pleading prayer sessions and spur-of-the-moment joint baby research projects have a way of strengthening a marriage. I don’t want to sugarcoat the hard times but I can honestly say that there has been more good than bad.
Pregnancy acts like steroids for your comfort zone. Never in my life have I taken to conversations about human beings crapping themselves with quite as much enthusiasm as I have lately. As parents look me intently in the eye and tell me their diaper change hacks and what to watch out for, I lean in like they are talking about some amazing new restaurant or must-see travel destination. It’s weird. Stuff that used to make me squeamish is suddenly interesting.
People are nicer. Pregnancy is like getting a puppy (how’s THAT for a statement that will come back to bite me.) As Jammie and I walk around Bangkok, people are way friendlier. They smile when they notice the baby bump; Jammie gets priority seating (not me, sadly); people are more likely to pay attention to social niceties like polite inquiries into your general well-being given the fact that you are going through one of the biggest life transformations on offer.
You make new friends. Somehow having a baby on the way has magically caused new friends to surface. It’s like joining a secret society. Random people that never really talked to us much before come up to us at church, in the mall or in the elevator and make conversation. We’ve entertained people more times in our tiny apartment over the last four months than we have anywhere we’ve lived in the preceding four years of marriage. The lesson here is clear: If you want friends, get pregnant (yet another ill-advised observation, I know.)
You learn to hustle. One of the reasons that I wanted to hold off on us having kids was that I thought professional progress would stall or worse, take a nosedive. The exact opposite has been true. The knowledge that we are having a child has made me feel like the new face of 5-Hour Energy commercials. There is added reason for hustle in that soon-to-arrive bundle of joy and now complacency seems completely unforgivable. My father-in-law is fond of saying that he got promoted at work each time he had a baby. Nothing makes you focus more than the thought of a chubby dependent on the horizon.
Embracing the unknown is the name of the game. I hate Hallmark cards and all their saccharine dictums, but learning to “embrace the unknown” through the experience of pregnancy has grown me more as a person than pretty much any other experience in life. I love to control things. I am obsessive about designing my lifestyle and creating the dream work and play environment. I try to leave as little as possible about my life in the control of other people. I am a fierce believer in the need to at least influence fate. So having a baby and having to face uncertainty and the unknown is growing me as a person. I have a stronger faith as a result. I have to remember that ultimately, life is not controlled. I have to believe there is a plan, a larger scheme out there.
Well, the above pregnancy perks hardly sum up all cause for celebration during our first pregnancy. But they do frame some of what at times feels like a dreary (and occasionally scary) slog so far. All things considered we still want two children eventually. But #2 is likely going to be a while arriving.