Monday, July 11, 2011

My Pregnancy Experience

By Tereza Hubkova, M.D.

It happened Christmas Eve 2010; I got pregnant. I had been timing my menstrual cycle, so I knew when I’d be at my most fertile. I couldn't yet be completely sure I was pregnant, but I surely suspected it because the following morning my urine smelled different, and I just felt, well, somehow different. A new life had already begun to grow inside me — even if it was only a couple of cells soon to divide and become four. I already felt special.

If someone had told me a year earlier that I would soon be pregnant, I would have laughed, “Unlikely!” I was 39 years old and single, thinking that families and babies were for other people — those who got happily married at a much younger age and always knew that they wanted a family. I firmly believed there were already enough people (i.e., children) on this planet; and I thought that I would spend my life helping — as a physician — those who were already here, without participating in procreation myself. Plus, I didn't even have a partner, much less a husband.

Sometime during the winter of 2010 I visited a tarot card reader. My nephew had recently suffered a severe spinal cord injury; I was so distraught and feeling helpless, a friend suggested a tarot card reader for guidance. As one being always open to all possibility and hope, I went seeking advice as to what else I could do to help him — as I had mostly exhausted my wits financial and resources. The tarot card reader sympathetically informed me to continue what I was already doing. But she added that she saw a new person in my life — sometime soon — maybe in the Spring. “He might be the one,” she exclaimed. Her vision seemed as unlikely as winning the lottery; I had already been unsuccessfully dating for a while, quickly concluding that all the good guys were already taken, and I would rather stay alone than settle for anyone less then amazing.

And then I met my husband. I knew on our first date that this was different. This was a great guy. But would he think the same about me? It turned out he did, and by summer we moved in together (when you are almost forty, you know when you know), and in the fall he proposed to me. I said “YES,” and by the beginning of December we were already planning to get married on the one year anniversary of when we first met.

My husband had always wanted to have a baby — a girl, to be exact. You know my previous position on having a child, but that quickly melted away as I was falling in love with him more and more, somehow, suddenly, I wanted a child more then anything. How could I have ever not? It seemed like the most natural next step in our lives, and we were both so ready for it. And now my pee smelled different and I wondered, “what if?”

By mid-January 2011 my period was indeed late and a home pregnancy test revealed to us the big pink plus. We could not have been happier. It was meant to be. I knew it would be a girl too. I just felt it. Our beautiful little girl would be loved so much and would bring us so much joy.

I was very happy, but the next couple of months were not easy. Morning nausea for me was more like whole daylong nausea — although I would rarely throw up. I was going to keep it a secret from work until past the first trimester. But one day at work I became very nauseated. I didn't manage to get to the bathroom fast enough. I threw up all over the carpet in the waiting area. I looked at the secretary sitting at the registration desk and said, “I guess I may as well tell everyone I am pregnant now.” “Oh, we all figured that a while ago,” she answered. So much for keeping secrets.

My other prevalent first-trimester symptom, aside from nausea, was fatigue. I have never been so tired in all my life — not even when I worked thirty-two hour shifts as a medical resident. I just wanted to sleep all the time. I would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and if I let myself, I could easily fall back to sleep. Somehow I would pull through the day only to go to bed immediately following dinner. I would sleep all weekend long too.

Then, magically, around fifteen weeks of pregnancy, the nausea and fatigue melted away. Instead I had tons of energy. My hormones were really kicking in. I had never felt better in my life. I started growing, and glowing. I loved rubbing my belly (and still do). Many of my blouses are worn pilly around the belly. And I loved talking to our baby (and still do). “Our little blueberry, we love you so much.” Blueberry is a nickname we gave our baby sometime around six weeks of pregnancy, when supposedly she had attained the size of a blueberry; and the name stuck even after she had grown as large as a Chinese cabbage.

I loved feeling our baby move and kept staring at my own belly. “Is this really happening?” My belly was turning into a basketball. The bigger my belly was getting, the more attention I was receiving, even from complete strangers. “You look so pretty. When I was pregnant I looked like a fat duck, but you…,” said one woman at the beach. “You look great; I think pregnant women are hot. Your husband is very lucky!” said the guy at the meat counter of our grocery store. “We have to tell you, you’re a celebrity here,” said a couple of twenty-something men at Lake George. “When our wives were pregnant, all they did was complain. But you wear it like it’s fashionable.”

Why would I complain? I love being pregnant. And I love my belly and our Blueberry and my husband; so much, and more every day. I know some tough time is ahead of me as I’m now entering week thirty-four. It is a little harder to lecture as I am getting short of breath; and I am tempted to take the elevator instead of huffing and puffing the single flight of stairs to my office. I have harder time sleeping as my hips and back hurt, and I get leg cramps every so often. I know it will get worse. But there is so much joy waiting at the end of it, which will be an amazing beginning of the most beautiful chapter of our lives. I am ready for it.

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