As I grow bigger, so does my understanding of those around me

What a world you’re plunged into when you get pregnant. People start acting like you’re public property, you get stroked and groped (yes, groped – had one lady miss the belly stroke and start at my boob – I jumped quite spectacularly!). And you are suddenly surrounded by women judging each other and getting all riled up over whether we should hold our children every moment of the day, or let them cry themselves to sleep, whether the $1200 pram is better than the $1500 pram (god help you if you believe a $400 pram is sufficient, like I do!). It’s insane.

People warn  you that you’re going to feel inferior because you’ll be bombarded with images and descriptions of perfect mothers. To be honest, I’ve found the opposite is true these days. It seems  like every mummy blogger and mum-on-Facebook is in a battle to one-up each other on how terrible they are at parenting, how exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed or horny they are. I think if I see one more post about how hard parenting is, how it changes (read: ruins) your life, how you’ll never sleep again but of course, how much you will love your child (always tacked on like an apologetic wave to the knowledge they chose to be parents), I will scream like a newborn just appearing out of the vag. Which, by the way, we can apparently all expect to have ripped to smithereens, so that sex is never pleasurable again, but that’s ok because our partners can’t bear to venture near the horror that remains where our pert bodies once lay. It’s remarkable anyone goes back for seconds if this is all the truth!

Now, I’m sure parenting is going to be hard. I’m not oblivious or living in denial. I know how terrible I am at dealing with life when I’m sleep deprived. I know there will come a day when I will burst into tears because I dropped the lid to the Vegemite jar or can’t find my other shoe. But I also think a lot of the misery comes from focusing on the tough stuff. Why drill your brain full of the hardships and draining parts of parenting, especially for those of us that haven’t even pushed our bubs out of our enormous bellies? I’ve not enjoyed pregnancy so far, and did feel guilty about that for a while, because it is an amazing thing to be able to go through. But just because I’m not enjoying the aching hips, the uncomfortable lung squishing and getting kicked in the bladder or the backbone, doesn’t mean I’m writing the whole thing off as a horror story. I’m trying to focus on how cool it is knowing I’ve got a little person in there, marvelling at my body knowing what to do even though I haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen next, and looking forward to the moment he’s out of me and can kick around in the air rather than in my innards. I’m not perfect, but I don’t expect to be, and I don’t want to compete with others in either direction – perfect or hopeless mummy are both bad ‘roles’ to cast yourself in!

Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that non-parents start unloading their own fears and insecurities on you. I’m a first time mum, and making the decision to start trying was both terrifying and exciting for Simon and I. So I get people being scared about having kids. I’ve started finding out how many are though, as they feel the need to tell me (because apparently sharing fears with someone already fully committed and stuck in the situation you’re about to fantasise horrific things about is a good idea). I’m not sure if they feel like they have to justify why they’re not pregnant, because I am, or what it is – perhaps having my belly jutting out between us just puts it at the front of their mind. I’ve found out recently that one is terrified at the thought of giving birth to a socialist, another can’t handle the physical limitations of pregnancy as she’s a gym junkie, and another has the standard childbirth fears (don’t we all?). Oh, and my physio kindly informed me of a statistic she’d read about the rate of women who are cheated on, who are also pregnant, because their partner doesn’t find them attractive anymore, can’t handle the mood swings and the fact their pregnant partner’s sex drive may have gone down. Thanks, that’s what all women need to hear when they’re already dealing with their body rapidly changing. I’m glad I’m secure in my relationship and could see it was more about her insecurities, as she’s terrified she’ll pack on the pounds when she’s pregnant and her partner is a stick (her words).

It’s just fascinating to me how pregnancy opens up a whole new layer of communication. Some healthy, some not so much. As someone who loves delving into the depths of people, it’s like having a large, bulbous key growing on the front of me!


Roller coaster!

I haven’t written for a long time again. I could bring forth all my excuses, but that’s all they are – excuses. I don’t know why, but somehow my introversion kicks in to the point sometimes where I can’t even bring myself to ‘talk’ to a screen and write out what I’m thinking or what has been going on.

So, what has been going on? A lot! Biggest news – I’m pregnant. We’re very excited, and yes, it was planned. Because we’re not married, I’m finding the vast majority of people have asked tentatively if it was planned. Like we couldn’t possibly have decided to have a child out of wedlock. I’m actually quite surprised how old fashioned people still are. I feel like explaining to them that it’s quite miraculous – I don’t need a band of gold or a diamond on my left ring finger to trigger feelings of wanting to be a mother, or to boost my fertility. But I don’t. I usually succumb and explain to them that Simon and I decided that we’re not getting any younger, and didn’t want to wait another year or two until we’re married, in case it takes us a while to fall pregnant. I’ve seen my best friend go through many painful years of IVF before her little one arrived, so we wanted to get started in case that was part of our journey too. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t and here we are! I’m 16 weeks tomorrow, and while I’m thrilled we’ll have a bouncing baby boy soon, I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of pregnancy.

First trimester was a terrifying blend of cramps (oh god, am I losing it?), nausea (plastic bags in my handbag for emergencies), utter exhaustion (any form of lying down turned into naps) and just bewilderment at all the changes happening so rapidly to my body. I’ve never been good with bodily changes. As an INFJ, sensing is my least active attribute, so when it goes into hyperdrive I’m basically operating against myself. So I catastrophise and worry and analyse everything to the nth degree. It’s been a learning curve for me to try to just ‘go with it’ and treat it all as part of the journey. I’ve had some hip problems recently that saw me hobbling far earlier than expected, so I’m off to the physio this week to get that sorted. I have my first midwife appointment this week too, which I’m looking forward to, as my GP is really not great with pregnancy!

On top of all of that, Simon’s dad got diagnosed with cancer and has rapidly declined. He told us the week we were going to tell them our good news, so that turned that moment into a bittersweet one. A couple of weeks later, he had a 4.5kg tumour removed, along with the kidney it was growing in, and his ureter and some lesions  in his bladder. They snicked the tumour on the way out so he’ll have to have chemo. They hadn’t started that yet, but he was in intense pain for 2 weeks after the operation. That all came to a head on Monday night, when he collapsed in immense pain, broke out in a sweat and went delirious. An ambulance was called, they called another for senior support when they discovered his blood pressure was 50 over 40. He was rushed to the nearest hospital and has been in ICU ever since.

We haven’t been to work all week, and it’s amazing how quickly something becomes the new normal. We’d get up, shower, wait for a call from Simon’s mum and then head into ICU to take shifts at his bedside. He’d had an internal bleed from his splenic artery and lost half his blood. There have been other complications along the way as they tried to sort that out, so we’ve been on a hideous roller coaster of hope and fear, with a few moments where we really weren’t sure he’d make it. He’s still in ICU now, but his haemoglobin levels  have finally stabilised, and they’ve given him even more blood again to try to bring them up. It’s a day at a time at the moment, and a very long road to recovery ahead. With the cancer, they’d said if the operation went well, he’d be feeling great & up and about in about 3 weeks. Not happening. Now it will be 6 weeks before he stops feeling completely exhausted, then 3 months before he feels remotely well. He’ll have to do rehab to build up his strength again, and still has to tackle chemo somehow. He’s always been such a larger than life, strong guy, it’s devastating for the whole family to see him like this.

So, a lot going on at the moment! I’m just reeling from one thing to the next, trying to support Simon and still make sure I’m doing the right thing for our baby, so it’s incredibly difficult. And instead of these months being about people supporting me through the pregnancy journey, it’s more me expending my energy to look after others. Which I don’t mind, but I’ve got to try to remember I have another little person to look after now too, even though he’s inside of me and I tend to not think of my own bodily needs at times like this!


Getting there…

I had a good day today. It was still busy and stressful, but I had a feeling of keeping my head above water occasionally, rather than drowning in everything. I still had a lot of the day where I felt under the water, but those few moments of control and clarity really went a long way to putting me in a good mood. I figure if I can get glimpses of that, at some point there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and I’ll find my rhythm with this leadership stuff, it will feel normal at last!

Missing – my sanity…

Life has been pretty crazy lately. We’re pretty close to being done  with the renovations now, thank goodness. We moved in a few weeks ago, so it’s slowed down a little while we unpack and breathe after 2  months of intensity. I am starting to worry we’ll fall into the trap so many folk have fallen into before though – move in, and then never quite get around to painting that door, fixing that handle etc. So tomorrow we’re determined to get the paint out again and get things moving along again.

Work has been pretty nuts as well. I got a promotion a  couple of months ago, which meant I was getting paid at the level I was already working, so that was great. But somehow since then the level of expectations of me have risen again and I’m so insanely busy. The main problem for me is that I’m an introvert (like 100% on the MBTI scale) and my role now puts me in meetings ALL DAY. As in, I have to excuse myself from meetings to go to the toilet, and have had to block time in my calendar to make sure I get a lunch break, as there were days when that just didn’t happen.

As a result, I’ve been feeling pretty wrecked. Poor Simon’s been patiently suffering through my short tempers and listlessness in the evenings and on weekends. I don’t like being that way though. He has his own stresses at work, so I do support him with that, but I feel like I’m not myself lately. I hope other introverts out there will understand what I mean when I say I feel like I’m having to be someone else for too many people – everyone has an expectation of me, and I don’t like letting people down, so I’m working against my own personality a lot of the time to get by and succeed. Which leads to me getting grumpy,  because I feel like I never get to do/be what I want to do/be. Healthy.

I’m not entirely sure how to get my equilibrium back. [Side note- Simon just came in and read this over my shoulder, rubbed my back and told me I need to take a valium, haha]. I have a public holiday coming up, and Simon’s working that day, so I’m looking forward to having a day to myself with no people. I feel like I just never get that anymore, and that’s what I need to keep me sane. I’ve tried to block out some other days off in the next couple of months too. My projects at work are insane so I can’t really take multiple days off at a time, but I have about a week of time in lieu accrued due to doing ridiculous overtime last month, so I’m going to take a couple of Fridays off and give myself some long weekends. Even if the weekends end up having people in them, if I can get a Friday with no one, maybe I can claw my way back to normal.

Any introverts out there with tips on how to get some energy back when you can’t escape being around people all day?