I knew I was pregnant the moment it happened. The pregnancy test was just a formality for me. Even still — when I saw those two pink lines, I could not believe it. I was going to be a mother. It is true that we had wanted a baby, that we had planned for this baby, but the fact that there was actually a baby growing inside my body was a concept that I could not wrap my brain around. Nothing and no one could have prepared me for the experience that is pregnancy.
In retrospect, my first trimester was the most challenging. I was nauseous 24/7. Bananas made me want to gag. I could not eat enough pickles or my ummanim’s kimchi. Working in an Emergency Department, my feet ached and any whiff of bodily fluids would send me straight to the bathroom while trying to keep from projectile vomiting all over the patients. Completing my chemistry homework was the most difficult feat thanks to pregnancy brain (it is real folks!). To say I was moody, would be an understatement. I bitched at Dan Kim constantly. My mom, for the first time in several years, told me that I was difficult to be around. That was all expected, though. That is a textbook first trimester for you. But What To Expect When You’re Expecting doesn’t scratch the surface of the emotions that can stir up within you when you find out you are going to be a parent. The most challenging aspect of my first trimester was the crippling fear of being responsible for another life. Yes, procreating is the most natural thing — it is literally what we are all born to do from a biological standpoint. But it is so much more than that in this modern world. I was pregnant with my child, living in a country in the midst of a tumultuous time, on a planet that we were actively destroying. Was I doing the right thing to bring another life into this world? Was I doing right by my baby? Was I doing right by the world? The love I had already felt for the tiny pea-sized human growing inside me was overwhelming. Miscarriage terrified me. I was already a mom. My baby was already a human being and did not need to be born for me to love him forever. I deeply feared losing my baby. There was one prenatal appointment where it took longer than usual to detect the baby’s heart rate and my own heart was racing so fast that I genuinely thought I was going to go into cardiac arrest. For those first 12 weeks, my heart, spirit, and my conscious mind were all heavily plagued with complex emotions. I was blissed out and scared out of my mind all at once.
I truly enjoyed my second trimester. I was feeling the baby kick and hiccup. My belly was small enough to still allow me physical comfort and restful sleep but big enough to give me all the feels that a woman gets when she is carrying life. We went on our baby moon. We went on date nights. We saw as many movies as we could (Star Wars Episode 8 more than once!). We had our first baby shower generously thrown by my mom. We told family and friends. There was tangible excitement in the air. My anxieties and fears were quieter and my mood had lifted considerably. Dan Kim and I were able to see our little one wiggle about during ultrasound as we tried to contain our joy. It was real. This was happening. April was just around the corner.
Before I became pregnant, I knew that I did not want to know the sex beforehand. Boy or girl, this little human was going to be perfect for me. Knowing whether to buy pink or blue was not going to change my feelings or prepare me in any extra way. I had also read in some pregnancy texts that not knowing the sex of your baby can lead to shorter labor times due to the sheer excitement of finding out. Not to mention — it was incredibly fun to have people guess, change their minds, and speculate off of old wives’ tales or the way I carried. From the start, I personally felt like I was pregnant with a boy. I can not explain why or how, but I was just certain that I was growing a pair (get it?!). We were showered with copious amounts of love and support. Love rained all over us from all over the country. The second trimester was heaven. And then just like that, it was over.
The third trimester was exactly like any and every woman had warned me about. I could not move. I could not breathe. I could not sleep. Sex hurt. Walking hurt. Existing HURT. My baby had started to kick me in the ribs so violently that I needed to see a special pregnancy chiropractor to put my bones back into place every week. Do not even get me started on the heartburn that I had after every single meal. Hormonal acne. Swollen feet. Aching lower back. I was so uncomfortable. Emotionally, unlike the first trimester, I had accepted the reality of becoming a parent. My internal world was stable. I knew that I would be okay. Dan Kim would be an outstanding father and my support system was undeniably solid. Knowing that I was bringing an innocent and vulnerable life into this world, I felt a newfound sense of protectiveness. There were personal relationships of mine that I could not confidently claim as healthy or conducive to me being the best mother I could be. I had to make some hard decisions that were ultimately for the greater good of my own mental health and the stability of my baby’s life. My mom and I, during our frequent FaceTime dates, referred to this as “cleaning house”. Ridding my life of toxic things, people, and emotional baggage was my own personal version of “nesting”. I was determined to bring my son into a world where his mother could be solely focused on him. Everything I did during my third trimester was in an effort to achieve that. Especially the hard stuff. It was more important that I was mentally sound than for the onesies to be color coded and nursery walls painted.
Towards the very end of my pregnancy, I was so ready for my baby to be born. I physically could not take it anymore. I was beyond irritated. However painful it was going to be, it did not matter, I begged for labor to start. My son was born 2 days late, completely healthy, and absolutely beautiful. I suffered some physical trauma from birth but I really did not care. All that mattered was that he was finally here. Now that my son is wrapping up his first trip around the sun, I find myself reminiscing about pregnancy and the euphoria of carrying life. I would go through those 40 weeks and 2 days a million times over just to bring my son earth-side again. All of that pain was more than worth it — it brought me my greatest gift.
To my utter surprise, having my son made me want to grow an entire Brady bunch of my own. And although that is very unlikely as Dan Kim and I would like to sleep through an entire night before the year 2030 — I am actively envisioning how I want to prepare my mind, body, and soul for my next pregnancy.
See my pre-pregnancy plan here. (Key word: plan).