I’m just going to say the thing you’re not supposed to say (thanks, Samantha Jones): I didn’t want to be pregnant. Maybe that’s why I had to take all nine pregnancy tests before I could finally force myself into believing it. In fact, in addition to the throwing up all day (morning sickness must have been termed by a guy), needing a nap after walking up the steps, and subsisting on Saltines, ginger ale, and donuts (which I ate maybe twice in my life before I got pregnant), I spent the majority of my first trimester feeling bitter, resentful, and sorry for myself.
All the plans I had for myself went out the window. I had to put my Master’s degree on hold when I was so close to finishing. I had to stop running because of a cyst. There went the trip to Paris we had been planning for next summer.
I missed long, scalding hot showers and nitrate-filled hot dogs and iced chai tea lattes. I missed my flat stomach (because everyone loves hearing the doctor say at your very first appointment, “Whoa, you’re gaining too much weight. You need to slow down”). I missed seafood and margaritas and having energy. All I could focus on was what I had lost.
This continued after I gave birth. I felt trapped. I felt like I had lost all sense of who I used to be. I felt sad, angry, bitter, resentful, and sorry for myself.
At my last therapy session, I told my therapist that I dreaded pumping in the evenings because all I did was watch the bags and get upset over how little was coming out. She said I needed to turn the switch. To have a mind of gratitude.
Instead of thinking, Oh, I barely got anything, I am to say, “I am so grateful for every ounce of milk that I can give my daughter to make her strong and healthy.” Instead of thinking how much I want to punch the construction workers who are working on our house in the face every time their muddy boots leave stains on my carpet, or they break something, or they don’t come back to work after their lunch break, I am to say, “I am so grateful we can afford to make these improvements and for how much we will enjoy our home when they are done.” You see what she did there? She turned all my losses into gains. All my negatives into positives. Her glass is perpetually half full.
I tried doing this when I got home. It felt fake. Forced. Completely inauthentic. And then the news broke about the Oklahoma tornadoes. Of the homes lost, of the lives lost, of the hope and happiness and security lost. I looked at my home, and I was grateful. I looked at my husband, and I was grateful. I looked at my daughter, bouncing happily away in her Jumperoo, smiling and cooing and talking, blissfully unaware of the pain and sadness and loss that accompanies life, and I was grateful. I was so aware of how much I have, of how much I’ve gained, of how much what I have and what I’ve gained trumps what I had and what I’ve lost. I turned the switch.