Do me a favor and say this with me. Or you can read this aloud:
This is NOT a vacation.
I am not on vacation.
Recently, a loved one of mine called to check up on me, and asked how I was feeling. To which I replied: “I’m doing fine, just really tired.” She gave a slight laugh and said “From what?” I took a mental step back (you know, since I can’t really be on my feet too much to take a literal one) and dissected her tone from the context. Was she being sarcastic? Was she merely poking fun at me?
Or is she actually under the impression that long-term bedrest is a retreat?
Nah, she can’t actually think that, can she?
I mean, it could be my fault, I’m not a dramatic person, so when others call to check on me, I try my best to sound upbeat and at peace, regardless of what’s real. There’s only a handful of people that I feel free to be bitter, pouty, and deeply sad in front of. I don’t want to alarm anyone, you know?
This is not a tantrum. I’m not stomping my slightly swollen foot in protest of not getting 24-7 sympathy or pats on the head. I feel that pregnancy has unveiled, on one hand, a tenacity to speak up; on the other, a vulnerability of the opinions of others.
Pregnancy, with or without bedrest, puts your whole self on Front Street. I understand why some celebrities go into hiding during this stage, because you are a different, amplified, messy version of yourself during those 9-10 months. Doctors believe that our kryptonite is Stress. They understood that having peace and ease surrounding you, with unity being the adjoined mandate of those around you, is imperative.
Another thing, is that pregnancy can be isolating. Despite it being a celebratory moment in time where your family and friends rejoice for and with you, you – the mother – are the only person directly feeling and experiencing the pregnancy. Both the joy and the pain. The experience, to everyone else, is widely second-hand. So, it adds insult to injury if there is hardship occurring during pregnancy that can further isolate her…
Starting to make sense now?
So, when loved ones make light of the experience, or poke fun at my expense, it hurts. Sure, they mean well. Of course they are worried and sympathetic towards me. But sometimes, I’d rather they’d keep their sympathy and work harder at understanding.
This is what is defined as EMPATHY (Sympathy + Understanding AKA: Placing one’s self in the other’s shoes). It’s ten times stronger than sympathy.
It progresses from — “Poor Brittney. Hope she won’t lose that baby, because that would make our family sad.” – to “I cannot imagine what Brittney is going through. “
Sometimes, and I’m treading lightly here because it may appear selfish at first read (so go back and reread if you need to), people are more concerned about me having Naomi, then about what it would do to me if I lost her.
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Well that’s where I am right now.
I love my little one stronger than I thought I could…already… If anyone has the task of caring for her unselfishly, it’s ME. And I do that with all of my might.
But what is to become of me if things don’t have a happy ending? I will have to go on, somehow…And I feel like I’d be marked in the eyes of others. It will be in the back of everyone’s minds with every subsequent pregnancy. My families may feel that I have a problem and may work hard squelching their disappointment.
Will anyone love me anyway? Regardless of the outcome? Is my worth tied up in my ability to procreate?
I don’t want to be angry. I really don’t.
….maybe I’ve done this to myself. Maybe I set up some sort of invincible barrier around myself that keeps my loved ones from getting to me. And Naomi is the next closest thing…