Friday, April 10, 2009

Week 38: Time, time, time...

From the beginning of my pregnancy, people have been telling me to enjoy every moment--minus the morning sickness, backaches, mood swings etc. And I have been blessed enough to be able to sail through these 9 months with hardly any of these pregnancy "side effects" that discourage people from enjoying the process. I was talking with my friend the other day, mother to 3 girls, and she tells me her labor for her first child was only around 6 hours and she pushed for maybe 15 minutes (shorter for each subsequent). I tell her she is good at delivering babies! She has always wanted children, comes from a hearty family of farmers, and she is a sensible person--she just seems like she would be good at having babies. I tell her I don't know how I will be in labor and delivery, but I am good at being pregnant.

When people tell me to enjoy every moment, they often follow that up with, "Really take advantage of this time you have where you can do things for yourself. It's the last time you have to be selfish, or for it to be just you and Mike."

And I try.

I have been extremely active these past nine months. I have had a social calendar which is filled to the brim on weekends, and many weekdays/nights (much to Mike's chagrin at times). I continued working for most of my pregnancy, I taught a playwriting class, I taught a theatre class, I have had a few of my plays performed (actually, my full length play, Free Space, opens tonight in Alaska!). I have visited family and planned several large parties. The last few months, in particular, I have taken advantage of seeing plays in NYC, traveling to the Caribbean with my husband, going out to movies and dinners, and nurturing friendships. I feel as though I have been sucking at the marrow of life, as they say, to eek all that I can out of my pre-baby days.

Besides taking advantage of doing things without an infant attached to my hip, people also tell me, "Savor the pregnancy itself. Time goes by so quickly. Before you know it..."

My friend, mother to 4 children, wrote me an email a few months ago about this and puts it well:
"Today, I think back to the baby years, the toddler years, the days when all it seemed I ever got to 'cook' was Cheerios and rice cereal, and I somehow don't remember how I got to this place? How did my babies change and grow up so quickly? O. is turning 12 this spring and my 'baby' will turn 6. I can't believe the boys are already 8 & 10. Where did the years go? My baby girl (O) is closer to driving cars and getting married than she is to her diaper days now. It is so strange and everyone tells you that 'it goes by so quickly' and you nod and say 'yeah, it does' and you think you understand what they are saying when they encourage you to 'enjoy it now; while you can; while they're babies' and you can't wait until they can walk or talk or tell you what they want and before you know it, they're sharing shoes with you and wondering when you're going to the mall next....Of course, each moment is precious..."

And I think about this, and there is no way I can understand because I do not yet have the experience of years...Although, even now, a few months ago, Mike shares with me how sad he is that our child is going to grow up, go to college, get married, and leave us some day. I tell him to "Stop saying that--you're making me sad too!" So yes, we are thinking in advance already, then looking back in imaginary-hindsight!

Experience or not, I do know, however, that I want to savor each moment, but I also know, there is no way to slow down time.

Take this pregnancy, for instance, as I do have the insight of looking back on 9 months. I have tried to savor each moment. I write in this blog. Mike takes pictures of my belly. We write messages in a baby bottle to our womb baby. We record videos of major events or baby-related activities. We enjoy several showers, feeling the love and support of friends and relatives for our growing family. We read about babies, pregnancy, and attend classes. We sing songs to the baby; Mike writes a song for the baby. We feel our little guy move through my belly, talk to him, coddle him...I really do feel like we are savoring the pregnancy. We are trying to preserve moments, and by preserving, hopefully remembering, and by remembering, hopefully keeping these moments with us and hopefully...slowing down time...

But it does not work this way.

We do preserve and try to remember. But it does not slow down time. In fact, I feel it advances time. I have spoken to many mothers who say their pregnancies seem to have lasted forever. When I am 15 weeks pregnant, one of our friends is 7 months pregnant and she says, "I can't even remember what it was like to be 15 weeks pregnant! That seems sooo long ago!" I wonder if I will feel like that at 7 months pregnant.

But now, at almost 9 months pregnant, 15 weeks pregnant still does not seem that long ago to me.

Others say the last month or two goes by slowly. "I couldn't wait to get the baby out of me!" Or "I was so bored!" Even baby websites give ways to encourage labor because, "By the time you're 39 weeks pregnant and within spitting distance of your due date, you're probably willing to do or eat anything to get to that million-dollar prize...more quickly."

But my last month has been busier than ever. Time is racing by like a rocket ship. I want it to slow down. I keep waiting for it to slow down.

The other day, I mention to my friend (the one who is "good at" delivery), "I know this may sound naive, but I wonder if I'll actually have more time to read and watch a movie and relax once I have the baby...I have been running around so much right now, I don't feel I've had the time to do that."

"I don't think it sounds naive," she tells me. "Infants sleep around 18 hours a day. And you'll be nursing a lot when he's awake. You probably will have more time to sit and watch a movie or read a book."

I also know that I am running on a crazy sort of adrenaline right now, which has surprisingly sustained me for 9 months, but it can't go on forever. I still am not sleeping well. This past Monday night, I get 5 hours and 45 minuts of sleep without getting up and realize that is more sleep than I've had my whole pregnancy, and probably for a few months before, as well. Of course, it has not lasted. Last night, I get up, literally, over 10 times in the night. And yet, I am awake by 6:30 every morning, ready to start the day. Yesterday, I work on my "to do" list from 8am to 9pm, almost nonstop and while enjoying 30 Rock and The Office, my body is impatient to start the next day.

The month before my wedding, I was living at my parents' house and not sleeping or eating much at that time, due to excitement/anxiety. Even though I would have only a few hours of sleep a night, I constantly felt wired, buzzed, with occasional bouts of anxiety and stress. I would wake up very early, eyes instantly wide open, completely awake, and ready to work on my next wedding project. But once I finally completed my vows the night before the wedding, and lay my head down to sleep...I relaxed. My part was almost complete.

When I woke up in the morning, I realized I'd had more sleep that night than in months. But this morning, when I woke up, my eyes did not shoot open. I did not feel wired, buzzed, alert. I was tired. I was dragging my feet. I wanted to go back to bed.

Of course, I perked up as the day went on, but that sense of relaxation that I had been missing all those pre-wedding weeks finally came to visit me when I knew there was not much else left for me to do--even though ironically, I was now finally on the day of the most excitement, the day all the preparation had been for. There was no need to be in my heightened stated of awareness, that extra adrenaline to make sure I completed all I needed to. I just needed to participate, love my friends, family, my husband...and that was it.

Thankfully, that day did slow down, seeming longer than most previous, and I was blessed to actually remember that day, as well.

Perhaps those days are to come. Maybe I will finish my "to do" list this weekend and have one week before my due date to sink into slow motion (although I do have social plans for almost every day next week...)...Or perhaps this will come post-baby, when I have done my part to make it to that wonderful state of finally having my little baby boy in my arms.

Or perhaps this will not come. And perhaps I may not want it to come. I don't know. That is the exciting thing about not having the experience to look back on is all a mystery to me, an adventure...

So I guess we'll just have to see where the infant car seat takes us!


Unknown said...

What a lovely and thoughtful post. I am so happy that I have been able to "experience" this through your blog. I wonder if you may be the first new mom in history to actually be able to sleep soundly once BBB gets here! I also think savoring every moment of the years to come will come easily to you and Mike--I have no doubt.

Kat said...

I really enjoyed this post, Tara!

Every person is so different and you can't expect to feel the way other people tell you that you will feel. I think you may be right about things slowing down and becoming more relaxing after the baby comes home. You and Mike and your baby boy may want to stay in and get some "getting to know you time." But, if not, that's fine too!

I, like you, was "good at being pregnant" and really enjoyed it. Some people will look at you like you are crazy, but I think it's great. I agree that it is hard to savor every minute of time to relax, be alone with your husband, get sleep, etc. Because that is all normal to you now. You don't know anything different. These words of advice come from people who can look back and wish that they did it. But, none of us really do because we don't know what to expect once the baby arrives. We can't picture what our life will be like and how it will be different. One thing I do know is that you and Mike are going to be great parents and love that little boy more than anything else in the world! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck with the big birthday, whenever it arrives!

Monsoon Mama said...

i too really loved reading this post-- your thoughtfulness and ability to reflect is so tangible in your words.

i agree with what kat said-- everyone's really different, and so many of us are guilty of projecting our own experiences, wishes, desires, etc. on our pregnant friends in the hopes that they will have the experience that we wanted to have but somehow didn't have-- but everyone has their own path, and YOU know what's right for YOU.

the one thing i've learned through pregnancy and motherhood is that the more you can stay present in the moment, the more you can enjoy that moment, and it sounds like you are doing an AMAZING job of that!

also, i DO think you're more able to catch up on movies and books once the baby comes (if that's what you want)-- i found that i had a good bit of down time once we got into a good rhythm with nursing and sleeping, and anand would nurse for like 20-30 minutes and then fall asleep on me, so i could then do whatever i wanted to-- i could nap, watch tv, catch up on email, read, whatever.

and they DO grow up and change. it can feel sad in some ways, and i sometimes long for those teeny-tiny infant days, but each stage brings something lovely and amazing and FUN. in my experience, the changes happened in such a way that they felt right when they happened, and it sort of made sense to move on when the time came.

yes, people do tell you to savor these last days "alone" before the baby comes, but you're going to have a lifetime of days to savor and treasure... the adventure and joy is just beginning! thinking of you and sending love as the big day approaches...

grandma berta said...

I don't think I've known anyone who has "savored the moment" more than you during this pregnancy! You've got a beautiful record here of the months, feelings, etc. thru the 9 months. You've had such a good first pregnancy experience, it'll make it easy to consider the second! And I know the "parenting experience" will be just as much a joy to both of you. You'll be such caring, loving parents. He'll have to be a caring, loving child! We can't wait for his arrival!

Tara M said...

thanks for all your great comments here!! they are wonderful and thoughtful and so on point! And I can see that now after having had the baby (2 months ago as I write this). Of course, I was wrong to think I'd have more down time! I think I might have more down time if my baby took more naps, but alas. And no, Margaux, my sleep is much worse now! (sigh) But I guess all my months of bad sleep prepared me to stay alert even with my bad sleep now. It seems that most women I've talked to who were bad sleepers when pregnant had babies who stay up a lot and if you sleep well when pregnant, your baby tends to sleep well! just a totally non-scientific word-of-mouth "study." What have the rest of you found, moms? Kat--what you write is so true. I just read in happiest baby on the block about how we think our baby will be "easy" and being pregnant is so close to regular life that we are lulled into thinking having a baby won't be that much different either. I mean, we know it will, but we don't understand HOW it will so much until we're there. Anyway, it is wonderful to see the comments and remember the post!