I had my first son when I was 27. The entire time I was pregnant, people asked how I was feeling, and I answered with something like, “I feel great! I would do this a dozen more times! I love being pregnant!”
Who even was I back then!?
I was 31 when I had my second. It was a little harder, but as far as I can remember, I was still mostly okay. There were a few really miserable weeks there toward the end, but for the most part, I made it. I rarely admitted it wasn’t bliss. I was just lucky to be pregnant, right?
Well, now I am almost 35, and I am pregnant with my third and final child. I still feel like I am lucky to be pregnant, but this time, I am committed to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
And the whole, naked truth is that pregnancy at 35 is still beautiful and miraculous and all that, but it is not what it was in my twenties.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: I totally acknowledge that it could be so much worse. I could have a whole host of scary complications that I am not experiencing, and I get that. No need to let me know all the ways it could be worse. I mean, a cracked skull is worse than a broken tailbone, but you wouldn’t go around reminding a guy who just fell hard on his ass of that fact, would you? No. You wouldn’t. Don’t do that to pregnant people, either. Just because something could be worse doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.
And for me, pregnancy at 35 is just really freaking hard.
This time around I’m raising two kids and incubating a human being at the same time. My kids are good sleepers, but I have to pee 125 times every single night. When I “wake up in the morning,” I’ve usually only been asleep for half an hour. My kids don’t care. They fell asleep at 8 p.m. and stayed unconscious until sunrise. They’re ready to start their day at 6 o’clock in the blessed morning, regardless of mom’s frequent urination.
But I really don’t think my already existing children are the entire reason I feel so different. I mean, God knows they contribute to my exhaustion, but they aren’t responsible for all of it.
I’m just a lot older.
Thirty-five isn’t old when you’re talking about an entire human lifespan. When I’m not growing any new people, I feel young. My skin still looks pretty good, my gray hairs are politely congregating only at my temples, and I have fairly good bladder control. When it’s just me inhabiting this body, I have plenty of energy, and I feel totally up for the many decades of life I have left on this spinning planet.
It’s just pregnancy that wipes me out like this. I can barely get through the day without dying for a nap. Then I remember I have a three-year-old, and I work from home. Exactly when is this nap happening? Oh, yeah. It’s not.
I’m very, very tired all the time.
One night, while I was weeping in haze of hormones and exhaustion, I came up with a theory that since my body has been capable of reproduction since I was 13, it just expected me to be done with this whole thing a lot sooner. Now it’s punishing me for procrastination. Pregnancy at 35 was not on my body’s agenda, apparently.
My husband is smart and he loves me, so he didn’t argue. He just rubbed my back, poured me a glass of cranberry juice, and promised me that I will feel like a normal person again when this baby is born.
I know that he’s right, but damn. 40 weeks is a long ass time, and I’m only halfway there.
When people ask me how I am feeling right now, I have two choices.
2. Answer, “I’m exhausted and nauseous. Second trimester bliss, my ass. I’m still always nauseous. Every food is repugnant to me. Everything hurts. I have a hemorrhoid that joined me during my first trimester, and it’s not going anywhere. The round ligaments that are supposed to support my uterus have apparently jumped ship, because I’m almost certain it’s now just sitting right on my bladder 24/7, making me feel like I have to pee at all times. Pregnancy rhinitis, aka nasal congestion during pregnancy, means I can’t breathe through my nose at night, so I wake up with a mouth like the Sahara once an hour. I can’t get comfortable lying down because I’m usually a stomach sleeper, and I am about as gigantic at five months as I was in my 8th month the first time.”
As it turns out, nobody who asks me how I feel really wants to hear about my butt hole or my ligaments or my bladder, so I choose option A.
“I feel okay. A little nauseous and tired, but happy to be pregnant.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am happy. Really happy. I can’t wait to see this baby. She is our rainbow baby after a devastating loss, followed by a cancer scare that left me with only one fallopian tube. She was a long time coming, which is why I’m doing this at 35 in the first place. I planned to be done a little sooner, but that’s not how it went. I am doing my best to enjoy this time because this is it for me.
But I am really, really looking forward to having a healthy baby in my arms and my body to myself. Just because I’m happy to be pregnant, doesn’t mean I can’t admit that pregnancy at 35 is totally kicking my butt.