My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with news of friends getting married or getting pregnant. These are happy times, the phases of life I enjoy reading or browsing on a Sunday morning when the house is quiet because the children are still asleep.
Pregnancy is a glorious moment in a woman’s life. So many parts of the body change and several people are more than eager to pitch in ideas and suggestions to ease up your discomfort, yet only one percent of the gazillion individuals who give their expert advice really do empathize with you.
My first pregnancy came as a surprise. We officially knew that two mutants were growing in my uterus two weeks before Christmas; so it is appropriate to say that I have been truly nice that year that Heavenly Father, in cooperation with Mother Nature, decided I can get what I have been wanting and praying for since I was a child.
But I did not know that a twin pregnancy on my first pregnancy experience would require endurance and patience. TV and the movies only let you see the jubilant looks on the couple’s faces when they learn that they are soon-to-be parents and then the narrative takes you to the hospital when the woman pushes the child out with all her might.
Books informed me about nausea, vomiting, cramps, linea negra, sleeping on the left side (not the right!) and nesting.
I am a wide reader. I read Heidi Murkoff’s “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” in 2010 when my younger sister got pregnant. I was a first-time aunt so I wanted to know what exactly happens or will happen in this entire circus which involves growing another mammal inside the body.
My sister is a pharmacist, yet there I was, confident about how my voracious reading appetite and the books I read about pregnancy, telling her about all the wonderful things happening to her body because she is carrying a miracle.
I swear she wanted to roll her eyes, but I am the older one and family rule said, “Listen to Ate.”
After the initial wave of shock and surprise that I am going to be a mother, I wiped my tear-washed face and told my husband that I know what will happen to my body.
“I can manage,” I said.
Yes, I managed the pregnancy but not without subjecting my husband to an insurmountable amount of torture. There were days when I was in a state of euphoria, beyond happy about being pregnant with twins. And then, there were the days when I wished that we were seahorses so I could deposit the “eggs” in the male’s pouch and he will carry them for nine to 45 days until they are fully developed.
The physical reality of bearing a human child rests on the strength and endurance of the female. I know that now. Your partner, family and friends can cheer all they want, but it is ultimately up to the pregnant goddess to stay healthy and be happy in the entire course of the pregnancy.
I noticed several differences in being pregnant in the Philippines and being pregnant in China and the US.
In Cebu, where I was pregnant and then gave birth to the twins, I was constantly surrounded with family members and househelpers who performed household chores for me. In China and the US during my second pregnancy, the bulk of the work rested on me and Jeff.
It was tough. The life of a pregnant woman raising twin toddlers was literally a backbreaking work. I clearly remember every ten in the evening — when the kids were asleep, the plates washed and the clothes folded — I had time to decide whether to shower or sleep. Never in my life did I think that I would reach a stage where I needed to choose between sleep and shower.
I had gestational diabetes in both pregnancies. I had to regularly monitor my blood sugar, eliminate desserts in my diet and walk after every meal to have some form of physical activity. Apparently, spending time on the couch reading a good book is not a physical activity. My doctor never failed to give me “the look” whenever I engage him in a debate on reading being a form of exercise.
Pregnancy took me on one of the most nauseating experiences of my life, second only to smelling people who use perfume like bath water.
I detested the cramps, back pains and the regular visits to the clinic. That’s just the pregnancy; I have not even delved into how life changed when baby no. 3 was born and I had to breastfeed him while making sure babies 1 and 2, who were only two years old then, were given enough care and attention.
Patience is a tricky virtue to learn for this mortal. I would be lying if I write that I have learned it after two pregnancies. But I am proud to note that I attempted to imbibe the virtue in the last four years of being a mother. There is still so much to learn, so much to unlearn, so much to relearn.
I am writing this for my beautiful friend Jessica, whose gift of music has enriched my pregnancy and my children’s lives in ways she cannot ever imagine. I played videos of her singing or playing the piano to myself and my children on our first three months in China. Her voice kept me a little bit sane.
Pregnancy is beautiful.
Stretch marks and cesarean scars included.
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