D and I had our friend L and her husband over for dinner last night. As you may (or may not) recall, L got pregnant on the exact same day that I did; and while I miscarried at 7 weeks, L has gone on to have a healthy pregnancy - she is now about 6 months along, and getting bigger every day.
L and her husband were about 30 minutes late to show up at our house. I was a bit worried, as it was a rainy night and I wondered if maybe they had been in a wreck or something. When they eventually arrived, L's eyes were all red and puffy and I could clearly see that she had been crying.
Once they got settled at our place, D started playing video games with L's husband (ah, men) while I pulled L aside to ask her what was wrong. She said that she had a midwife appointment earlier that day, which included a painful pap and some subsequent spotting. She also had a bunch of tests done, which she didn't yet know the outcome of, as well as a requisition for several more tests to come. They went over the upcoming birth and the process that it will entail. Apparently there was a student midwife there as well who had a hard time finding the baby's heartbeat on the doppler. Even though it was eventually found and everything seemed to be fine, it left L feeling scared, nervous and unsettled.
I still couldn't understand what was wrong or what was so troubling about the appointment. She wasn't given any bad news per se; it seemed like the appointment went well enough, if not for it including a lot of information and a bit of confusion. Then L said something that made me get it. "Nine months just isn't enough time to get prepared for all this", she said with exasperation. Ah. I realized that L was completely overwhelmed.
A couple of months ago, I would have interpreted a comment like that to mean that L was essentially stating that she was ungrateful for this amazing gift that she's been given (the same gift that was so cruelly taken away from me). I would have felt slighted by her remark and thought 'how dare she take for granted the fact that she is pregnant, especially when I am desperatly trying to recover from my miscarriage and conceive again?'.
But much to my surprise, I was not bothered this time. I didn't feel that familiar pang of jealousy and bitterness that usually rears it's head whenever I get the inclination that a pregnant women is complaining about pregnancy. I could see that L was truly overwhelmed by the process. My heart went out to her. She is starting to panic.
And understandably so. L said something that hadn't occured to me until just that moment. She said "The first three months of pregnancy, you're just getting used to the idea and praying you make it to twelve weeks. The next three months, you start getting excited. The last trimester is when the panic sets in".
In all my idyllic conceptions of pregnancy and childbirth, all I've been imagining until now is bliss, happiness, nappies, bonnets, and bottles. It had not occured to me that I am in for a very overwhelming and scary experience, aside from the simple fear of miscarriage. I have no doubt that I'm ready to be mum and I honestly can't wait for that day; but I realized that arriving there really will take some getting used to. L was, in a sense, the canary in the coalmine. She opened my eyes to parts of the process that I hadn't truly considered. Certainly, nothing has dissuaded me from wanting a baby more than anything in the world, but L made me realize that as much as there is to be thrilled and excited about, there's also plenty to be scared and nervous about. I am glad for the reality check.