Jackie’s Journey #2: Of Gifts and Goblins

People are exploding out of my belly.

Well, not yet. But in a month or so, yes. People exploding, little parts everywhere,squawking and screaming a language all their own. I feel like a new show on the Sci-Fi Channel and we’re all just hoping that the first season can live up to the memorable pilot episode of Conception. Sometimes, with a cage match between two gollum-looking creatures going on in my belly, my partner and I imagine scenarios that will require a crib, a fishing net, and two bourbon-spiked pacifiers to get under control. Or that,somehow, we’ll end-up with werechildren.

Many women say that pregnancy is the best and most beautiful time of their lives. They call it a gift. While I appreciate the warmth of these statements, I sometimes wonder, “If this is the best time of their lives, how awful were their lives before? Vomiting, diaherea, constipation, leg cramps, exhaustion, strange and extreme reactions to food, inability to sleep, joint pain, swelling everything… Really, best time of their lives?” Do I love the miniscule mischief makers in my belly? Of course. But do I wish they’d spend less time trampolining on my bladder and leave me a little more energy at the end of the day to go to a movie with friends or spend some quality naked time with my husband? Yes.

Overall, I do think pregnancy a gift but one with goblins inside. The best part of the gift is the kids. But the gift includes goblins that aren’t so fabulous. Goblins of worry: Can I do this? Will I be a good parent? I like my job and I’m good at it, will I ever be able to get back to where I was professionally before the kids? Will I lose all of my child-free friends? Will I ever be able to look at my ass again and not hear Sir Mix-A-Lot rap “I like big butts and I cannot lie…”? Will my partner be able to look at me sexually after birth and breastfeeding?

Add your own worry here: ______________________________? Notice that I gave you a short line for your worry. A veryshort line. But, if you’re like me, you could fill pages and pages with worries – personnel and professional worries alone, not to mention the “Do I have everything I need” shopping worries.

As their birth day approaches, I seem to have more and more time on my hands to worry since I’m not as active as I used to be. I found myself slipping further and further into Level One of Worryland – a funhouse mirror universe filled with goblins of worry. These worries could appear bigger or smaller than they deserve to be depending on various factors like how tired I was or how long I’d been alone that day. Level One lasted a few days. Then I reached Level Two of Worryland, which is where I began detailed worrying over my worries from Level One. Eventually, I reached Level Three, which entailed worrying about the fact that I was worrying so much about my original worries and perhaps not prioritizing my worries correctly. (Yeah, it was a thrilling week or so for my husband. There was a lot of sympathetic head-nodding and tea-making.)

Once I reached Level Three, and the goblins of worry almost became an obsession , I realized that I had to stop. Okay, truth be told, I didn’t realize it myself. I think it was when I was worrying about whether or not our twins will be friends with their college roommates that my fantastically supportive husband put down the tea and basically said, “I love you but you’ve going over the edge. Please come back to us.” And he was right. I was losing sleep to the goblins of worry. I wasn’t eating as regularly or as well. And I was physically tense all the time. Not good for anyone.

Breaking the worry cycle was not easy – and that’s why I gave you such a short line a few paragraphs ago. I had to consciously find more low impact activities to fill my day (which included watching back episodes of television on Netflix after my afternoon walk when I was tired physically but not mentally – I highly recommend “Once Upon A Time,” “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” “Extras” and “Downton Abbey,” just to get started). I only allowed myself to go into the nursery to check that everything was ready once a day. And when I began to feel overwhelmed by worries, I would write them down, on a short manageable line, and then put the paper physically away. It was written down. If I really needed to go back to it for some reason, I could, it was there, but the worry wasn’t allowed to grow into an unmanageably large goblin in my mind. Plus, many times, once I’d written them down and re-read them, I had a new perspective on issues ranging from labor and delivery (it’s alright to be nervous but I have a great doctor at a great hospital and we will be fine) to sublimely ridiculous details (if they end up with weird haircuts in their prom photos there is always photoshop).

As the goblins of worry shrunk, my joy for our impending infants grew. I felt more energized about finally getting to meet them and began thinking about how cool they are destined to be. Early on, the worrying felt like what I should be doing as a responsible parent but I realized that it isn’t my job to worry all the time. My job is to anticipate concerns, address them, and do the best no matter what happens. And that attitude has allowed us to enjoy the final days of pregnancy and be excited about the little loveable gollums to come. Are there still lingering worries? Yes. But they are no longer allowed to have a major negative impact on our lives. Freeing myself from every worry in the world gives the gift of a much happier, much healthier mom to my family and this gift makes everyone’s life better. (P.S. However, bad prom hair actually does live forever in infamy. I have a new version of Photoshop, if anyone needs it.)

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