A very good friend of mine told me recently that’s she’s expecting a baby later this year. I am, of course, incredibly happy for her and her other half. However, as she told me all the details I realised something – I was a little bit jealous! To be clear up front, I’m not jealous because I actually want to be pregnant again. Not only is my body just weeks into its recovery from growing Little Z, but I have the two children I had always hoped for. No the reason I’ve got a bit of the old green-eye is because there is something unique and special about pregnancy and birth which I will miss not experiencing again.
By the time I reached 39 weeks of pregnancy, I was physically and emotionally ready for Little Z to arrive. Then she did and the first week or so after she was born was the usual whirlwind of postnatal / newborn emotions. But as they started to fade or at least become the new norm, I started thinking back to pregnancy. It hit me quite hard that my pregnancy was over. That might sound ridiculous because I had a newborn. But because pregnancy ends with the drama of labour and, ultimately, a baby to care for, it is all too easy to not reflect back on the nine months spent growing a new life. So I had the sudden realisation that the nine months where it was just Little Z and I were finished. And that my life experience of pregnancy was done!
For me, both pregnancies were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Whilst admittedly Little H’s was physically much harder, I relished the feeling of a small person growing inside of me. I took embarrassed pleasure in the care and attention people gave me as I normally like to keep myself to myself. I don’t think I’ve ever looked after myself as well as during my pregnancies – watching my diet, exercising to just the right amount and taking regular rest to ensure my baby was healthy. Then I was nervously excited on both occasions about the birth of my child – wondering how birth would go, how I would cope and wishing my baby would arrive safely.
But it was the experience of birth that surprised me the most. The birth of both my daughters fundamentally changed me. In amongst the physical exhaustion and discomfort was an overwhelming feeling of achievement, love and happiness. I felt a pride in myself for coping with labour. And absolutely nothing can rival those glorious, unrepeatable two moments where I first held each of my daughters for the first time. Beyond anything else, I think it’s accepting I won’t feel that moment again which leaves me a little envious.
Motherhood is so much more than pregnancy and birth though. In many ways the harder yet even more rewarding job comes after they are born and as they grow. I’m well aware of the level of care, commitment and love my girls need from me…and will continue to need. (Not forgetting the financial cost too of course!) So, I may be a little jealous of my friend, but I’m also happy with my lot. If I could though, I’d just tell every pregnant woman to enjoy it whilst it lasts because whilst it seems like forever, in reality that phase is gone in the blink of an eye!