The third trimester descends, almost without me realizing. The physical and emotional roller coaster ride that is pregnancy peaks around the 28th week, and then the increasing G force and terrifying descent into what can only be described as hormonal madness takes over.
Random shooting pain in my hips and other lady parts punctuates nearly every attempt at perambulation. The compression of about 20 pounds of mostly liquid weight leans heavily on my bladder and organs when I stand. The baby inside me is equally as irritable and restless, turning over on himself ceaselessly day and night. Sleep is a joke, what little I am able to get is interrupted every few hours by a child in the next room working through night tantrums, terrors, or simply testing out new interrogation techniques for the CIA.
Leg cramps begin, a symptom I’d previously forgotten about, so if I’m not awakened by the need to urinate six times a night, or because of the crying child in the next room, it’s to stamp out the charlie horse which has cruelly grappled what little hope I had at achieving restful sleep.
When I do get comfortable, I have to wait for the baby to settle down again, as the movement has jarred him awake. If I drift off to sleep, my dreams are angry or horrific nightmares, as mentally exhausting as the physical symptoms I’m enduring.
My waking life, beginning with the first light of day, usually begins with tears. Most of the time it’s a sheer frustration that whatever hope I had to rest for that night is gone, wasted and lost forever. If it’s not that, then it’s the hormonal moodiness, the filter I’d held in the before times long worn away, the fuse on my temper smoldering, needing for the smallest spark to explode.
I go through cycles of brood, snap, explode, apologize, repeat. I hate the impact I’m having on the people around me. I isolate further, trying to shield them from my behavior, which only makes me feel even more depressed, burdensome and unworthy.
I see my doctors, they give me guarded, concerned looks. I feel the frayed rope of my sanity unwind further as I assure them I’m going to be okay, I just have to get through it. I begin to question whether I truly can. The mind turns in on itself. I feel foolish for saying anything at all. I don’t want to have people worry about me.
I fear the additional weeks ahead, pondering how this body endured the first child, and how on earth I’ll complete the home stretch with any semblance of sanity. I stare at my growing belly, wondering if at any moment it will break open in splintering stretch marks or just give up altogether and finally spill my guts all over the place. I am, in a word, uncomfortable.
Strangers ask about my due date, how I’m feeling. Women tell me how much they loved being pregnant. I rage inside. How?! What am I doing wrong, I wonder. What secret part of this process is so enjoyable that I’m missing out? I decide that those who say things like this are either liars or forget what their experience was truly like. It’s the only thing I can do to keep me from wanting to punch them in their smug little faces.
Maybe some women do enjoy it, like the people who eat chocolate covered pretzels and can enjoy combinations of things that shouldn’t taste good together. But for me, I’ll never understand it. Whatever good feelings that come from pregnancy are drowned out by the symptoms that make me so miserable I can barely function. That’s not to say I’m not happy about adding another child to our family, because I am, and I can’t wait to meet him. But goodness, the process of getting there cannot be described as fun.