Pregnancy Stories - Laughing and Crying
Laughing and Crying
by Joanna Griffith
It just hit me tonight how I’ve hardly read anything at all about the lovely side of pregnancy. The kicks, the glow, the excitement. I think I’ve learnt that it’s because when things are going swimmingly, you feel a bit guilty, don’t want to jinx the situation, and so keep it to yourself. It’s not until the world is seemingly crashing down around you that you feel the desire to share your experiences.
Today, the beginning of my third trimester, I realised how hard it all can be. It’s Saturday, thank goodness for weekends, and I woke up feeling starving hungry this morning. I ‘hopped’ out of bed excitedly (perhaps as elegantly as an elephant seal might belly flop along the rocks) and slipped on a pair of my six foot four husband’s stretchy oversized shorts and the last clean t-shirt from my drawer that would fit. I struggled through the aching of my lower back and hips, mild headache and parched throat, put the kettle on, and cooked myself a big delicious batch of reflux. This is something I was unfamiliar with until a week ago. I thought it was something only babies got if you didn’t burp them properly. There are a lot of ailments I have learnt about recently. I tried to wash the reflux down with a sip of tea, but it turns out the kettle wasn’t plugged in so the water hadn’t boiled and I had made myself a stone cold cup of tea. I groaned angrily.
I live in a remote part of Australia, 8 hours from a supermarket. I have been craving fresh bread with avocado and decided I would cheer myself up by making a loaf of fresh wholemeal bread and eating it with the last avocado in the fridge. I was tired, slightly dizzy, and feeling weak, but battled through and got the bread machine started. Exhausted from the morning’s work, I flopped on the couch with a bottle of water, two cushions behind my back to ensure I remained upright to help ease the reflux, and searched for any light hearted TV show to tune out to. An ad came on with a song I recognised my nanna used to sing to me when I was young. I burst into tears with the memory of her, and a moment later found myself laughing at how ridiculous it was to cry at an ad on TV. The sounds that come out of your mouth while laughing and crying at the same time are interesting to say the least - a mixture between a mouse squeaking and a family of pigs snorting and slurping buckets of slimey pasta describes it best. A knock at the door, and I answer before it occurs to me that I haven’t brushed my hair, am wearing my husband’s oversized shorts, a see-through t-shirt, have red and swollen eyes from crying at a television ad, and am standing hunched over, grasping at the ache in my lower back. It is difficult to feel respectable at the best of times when your stomach is larger than a halloween pumpkin, and your once-perky breasts that have swollen and drooped are noticeably sitting unsupported on said pumpkin. The see-through t-shirt didn’t do much to disguise their resting position.
Two hours had passed when I realised the bread I was desperately craving was halfway through it’s bake cycle but didn’t smell like bread. Usually the sweet fresh bread smell wafts through the house as the dough rises. I was surprised to peer inside and see the ingredients sitting just as they were when I had put them in two hours ago. My feelings moved from disappointment to anger at myself. How could I be so stupid to forget to plug in the mixing attachment. I was now 2 hours further away from the fresh bread I was craving. A lump formed in my throat, and tears welled in my eyes, but I managed to pull my disheveled self together and come up with a solution to knead it myself and bake it in the oven. Not an easy task when your body aches like you’ve run a marathon every day for the past month - without training. I sweated as I tried to see the funny side. My arms ached after 15 seconds and I wondered how I was going to hold a baby in 12 weeks time if I couldn’t even knead dough. I brainstormed places to put the dough to rise. Somewhere warm. The car outside, away from the air-conditioned house, seemed like a good choice. I lifted the dough with my aching arms into a bowl and opened the laundry door to go outside. The door only opens part way because of the big basket of sand covered shoes that sits behind it, so I turned my body to fit through the gap. Forgetting I am now actually skinnier from the front than from the side, my stomach scraped along the sharp latch of the door. I looked down to see the door’s attempt to give me a c section was partially successful since blood was seeping through my see-through t-shirt. I groaned, swore, and stamped up the hall to change it. I’ve been so tired for the past week that I haven’t done any washing, and I have no more clothes in the wardrobe that fit. I angrily raid my husband’s draw and I am left standing in an over-sized shirt. My skinny, spider vein covered legs poke out the bottom of my outfit like a fat emu. I waddle back down the hall for attempt number two to place the dough in the warm car. This time I move the basket of shoes out of the way by pushing the door harder. I let go and the door bounces back off the basket and hits me square in the stomach. This time a groan won’t do it justice, so I scream.
The bread is in the oven, and I am lying propped up in bed searching for TED talks about emotional stability. The little guy is dancing around and I am watching my tummy bounce around like a shot from the movie Alien. He dances one too many times on my bladder and I decide to make the difficult journey out of bed, to the toilet. I roll on my side and strain like a flipped turtle to sit upright. I notice my kankles, and as I manage to get my feet to drop to the floor they disappear out of sight, hidden by the basketball that overhangs my husband’s shorts. I stand up to the rhythmic drum beat that is my back and hips cracking, and shuffle to the bathroom. I reach my destination and plonk myself down heavily wondering how it is possible to be so incredibly thirsty but also have a full bladder. Then I ponder how it is also unfair to have reflux so I don’t feel like eating, and be constipated at the same time. A saying comes to mind... “if you don’t eat, you don’t shit. If you don’t shit, you die.” A painful way to go I’d imagine. Time to scoff some prunes.
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