Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Preggers

solo.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

~Lao Tzu

Pregnancy has highs and lows. Tonight should have been one of my highs, but it was a low. At first I thought I wouldn’t write about it, but then I wouldn’t be sticking to my original goal of this blog. I decided to write this blog to openly share my honest experience. This post is not about getting sympathy for my situation, but to be honest with you about even the hardest parts of all of this. It is not about pretending that the single woman’s pregnancy is all strength and wonderfulness. It is not about hiding my real fears and frustrations. It is about telling you the truth.

About a month ago, I signed up for a six-week childbirth class. This is not a Lamaze class but a class all about pregnancy and childbirth and methods to make labor and childbirth as easy as possible. I am so excited to meet my daughter and to be honest; I am excited for the birthing process. I feel like it’s such an amazing thing that can only happen to women and only women can do.  This child birthing class is the first real step towards that crazy wonderful day.

When I got home from work, I got my list, gathered my pillows and blankets, changed my clothes, and filled up my water bottle. I was so excited to go learn about childbirth and what I am about to experience. When I walked into the class, the chairs were set up in a circle in pairs. I didn’t even notice at first until all the other couples came into the room one by one and sat down. I looked around and suddenly felt more alone than I can ever remember feeling before. There we were: ten excited giggling couples and me. I wanted to grab my pillows and blanket and run for the door. I don’t know why I didn’t think this through or predict this would happen. I have enjoyed this pregnancy so much and felt so supported by the people around me that I haven’t really felt like it was any different than any other woman’s pregnancy.

As each of the couples went around the room introducing themselves and talking about how excited they were for their babies, tears welled up in my eyes. The husbands all joked about passing out and hovering in the corner on the day their wives gave birth and the wives laughed and kissed them and I suddenly realized how this is supposed to look. It was the first time I realized I really am doing this alone. It was the first time I felt unadulterated anger towards my daughter’s father. I have tried to tell myself it is better to do this alone than with someone who doesn’t want to be here or who treats me poorly. I have tried to be forgiving towards him.  I have tried not to focus on him or whether or not I agree with how he has handled all of this. But in this moment, in this class, when I sat there beside an empty chair in a room full of couples, all I could think about was how hurt and angry I am with him. I just cannot understand a man who would simply walk away from a life that he created and leave me, a person he once called a friend, to do this alone.

Believe it or not, this has probably been the lowest moment in my pregnancy. I made it through the 2.5 hours of class, said my goodbyes and made it to my car before totally breaking down and crying all the way home. This was not my finest moment in any respect. On the drive home I decided that I am going to focus on my daughter and keep repeating to myself that I am doing this for her. That thought alone is the only thing that will get me through the doors of my class for the next five weeks and it is the only thing that will get me though the other moments I am about to face alone. With each class I attend and each appointment or event  I go to alone, I will get stronger and stronger and it will all be ok.  It will be the immense love I have for her that will teach me to be strong, teach me to stand alone and be ok with that feeling, and it will be that love that will help me truly forgive.

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Preggers

my valentine

Dear Daughter,

Today is Valentine’s Day. For the first time in four years, I am not seeing anyone, but I still have a Valentine: you! In just 15 short weeks, I am going to meet you. The love I have for you already is so intense that I cannot imagine what it will be like when I hold you in my arms and look into your eyes. A year ago today, I had no idea you were coming. You were never an accident, but a wonderful unexpected surprise. You came from love and I will never let you forget that! A year ago, I was broken and hurting over the loss of your grandfather. Valentine’s Day was sad and I had a hard time enjoying it. I cannot believe what an amazing difference a year makes. Although I never planned on you and I never expected you, I am so grateful that God has blessed me with the most amazing gift of love.

Today, I woke up and looked down at my belly. It is officially lying beside me now. There you are, all protected by my organs and flesh as you grow a little more each day. My heart, once small and longing for you (before I even knew it), is enlarged and pumping 50% more blood than it did before you came along. However, my heart rate and blood pressure are actually lower now. Because of you, I no longer have to take heart medication. I can only assume that this is because my life changed when I learned about you and I am a calmer, happier person now. My life, though full and wonderful before you came along, is even more miraculous now and with a new purpose. It reminds me of the first time I got glasses. I put them on and the world was a clearer more beautiful place. With you, it has once again become new to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided what I will name you. Your name is important and I want you to know why I chose it. If the doctor was wrong and you turn out to be a boy, I will have to write you a new letter.  For now, however, he says he is 80% sure you are a girl, so I am going with that. Your first name is Isabella. This means “promised to God.” Your existence is nothing less than a miracle and my promise to God is that I will thank Him by raising you in a way that honors Him. I was raised in the same way and am grateful for the lessons my parents taught me about how to treat others and live a life of love and service. Our lives are short and there is no time for judgment, hatred, greed, and disrespect. I will teach you to forgive, to love, to help others, and to be happy with the simple things in life.

Your middle name is Grace. Grace is something that God gives us that we not only don’t deserve, but that is above and beyond. Someone once told me that Grace would be if you are speeding down the highway and the cop pulls you over and not only doesn’t give you a ticket, but gives you the money that ticket would have cost. I have made so many mistakes in my life. Last year, I screwed up royally to a point where I thought I may be beyond forgiveness. I didn’t care about anyone but myself and I didn’t care about consequences. I lost myself.  I hurt a lot of people and I hurt myself. Instead of punishment, I got you. A child is the best thing that could happen to a person and I will never deserve you, but here you are! When you experience Grace for the first time, I hope you tell me. It is so overwhelming and wonderful that it can only come from something greater than us. You are the embodiment of Grace and I will get to feel this way for the rest of my life. I hope that every time you write your name, you will remember that.

I love you, Isabella Grace. I will always love you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Mom

February 14, 2013

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Preggers

body.

This post is hard to write, but it is important to write. I have reached a milestone in my life and that is something worth talking about. We, as women, beat ourselves up. We abuse our bodies to get what we think is the perfect body. We are not happy no matter how hard we work. Yet, it has taken pregnancy for me to learn that what we have been given is already perfect. We make life and that is beyond any level of beauty we will find on the cover of a magazine or strutting down a runway. Embrace it ladies; every curve, line, and stretched piece of skin. It is gorgeous!

body pic

I have always hated my body. If it wasn’t my short wide feet, it was my crooked fingernail or round tummy. It was my thighs that got wider when I sat down and my hips that stuck out just a little too far. There is a birthmark above my left breast that looks like a small rash. There is a hair that grows on my chin and needs to be plucked. There are faded stretch marks on my hips and belly that came from a growth spurt in high school. There are freckles everywhere…..everywhere! My boobs are slightly uneven and my knees are permanently scarred from soccer. I have always looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.

To alter my body, I have spent thousands on diet pills, creams, books, tapes, and gym memberships. In high school and college, I took laxatives like candy. I have done three Master Cleanses. I have juiced without eating. I have fasted. I’ve done, South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and even Deal-a-Meal. I have been vegetarian and vegan and carb free. I have gained weight and lost weight and been highly successful at both. Even at my lowest weight, I still found something wrong with my body. There was nothing that made me happy with myself. I experienced a sexual assault in my twenties that made me fuller of self-hatred and guilt.

As a result, it took me a long time to be open to love. I have tried my hardest to hide my body and not share it with anyone. I have lacked the confidence needed to fall into a close relationship. I was thirty before I felt comfortable enough with someone to be intimate. Even then, I still never felt quite right with myself.

Four years ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer and I was broken.  I felt totally helpless and useless and wanted to do anything I could to save him. I am not a doctor, so I turned to charity races. I began running and could not be stopped. I had never run a race in my life and started with a half marathon to raise money for cancer research. I was not able to save my dad through running, but I have completed 3 half marathons, two full marathons, a 10-miler, and some 5Ks here and there. Running has become my therapy and has created a total body transformation. However, I still looked in the mirror and was unhappy with what I saw. I still found myself angry when I just couldn’t run as fast as I wanted to or train as much as I wanted to. I blamed it on my deficient body.

The other day, I woke up. I looked down over my body and saw my little toes. They were beautiful. I saw my hips. They are spreading to get ready for my baby and they are perfectly rounded. I saw my thickening thighs: the thighs that are forming so that they can support my ever-growing belly. I saw my growing breasts that will nourish my child. I saw my ribs sticking out just below my blossoming breasts and just above my swelling belly. It was all covered in freckles, but it was totally gorgeous. I looked last at my belly. That place that I had worked so hard on to get flat and tight was now bubbled up and moving around. It was the home to a miraculous human life. This body that I have detested and tortured is making another body. It is creating a life that is different than any other life that has come before it. That, to me, is astounding. Suddenly, without pause, I loved my body. There was no longer anything to see but beauty.

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Preggers

preggers.

Are you drunk?

No. I’m Pregnant.

When you are pregnant, your sense of balance is off. So much so, that the doctor actually tells you not to ski, roller skate, or bike. I have avoided those things, but I still find myself running into walls, dropping things, and wobbling a bit.

Being pregnant is a funny thing. Suddenly, there is food I can’t eat that I am used to eating every day.  There are things that start happening to my body that I have no control over. My hormones are out of control: one minute I am happy as can be and the next I am crying uncontrollably and I’m not even sure why. All of these things are things I never really thought about. I have six nieces and nephews and countless friends with kids, but somehow I never really paid attention to what it was like to be pregnant. I really never thought I would be here in the first place, so I guess I never really thought it was that important. So, for those of you who have been wondering what it is like to be pregnant, here is a day in my life.tiny bump

I know what some of you are thinking: pregnancy means throwing up, eating all the time, gas, bloating, and weird cravings. I guess that is the experience for some women, but mine is different. I have to admit that so far, it has been kind of nice. I didn’t throw up except for one time when I switched vitamins. I don’t really have gas issues, I haven’t gained a whole lot of weight, I really don’t eat much more than I did before, and I haven’t really had any cravings for pickles or ice cream. In the beginning, when I was going through the worst of it, I only had fatigue and the taste of pennies in my mouth. Here is what it is like for me:

I wake up and wish I hadn’t. It usually happens way before my alarm goes off, so I start the morning a little irritated. Then, my little girl kicks and turns and I look down at my round belly and see it move. I enjoy this for a little while until I cannot wait any longer to go to the bathroom. Then, I head to the scale. Typically I am about the same as the day before. However, I will admit that in this last month, the scale has been slowly rising. I take a look in the mirror and see my strange new body. The boobs are a little larger, my veins are more pronounced, my thighs and hips are beginning to spread, there is a fuzz on my belly, and despite by bulging belly, my hip bones and ribs are protruding through my skin just enough that I can still remember the thin frame I had just a few months ago.

After my shower, I cover myself in lotion or oil. This is a very meticulous practice that I hope will help with the stretching. I am not afraid of stretch marks, but am doing what I can do avoid the post-prgnancy flabby belly. Then,  I take a look at my clothes and secretly wish I could just wear sweatpants, sneakers, and a hoodie all day. I do want to look somewhat professional, however, so I go to my small pile of maternity clothes and begin pulling the strange jeans or pants on up my legs and over my belly. I never thought I would be wearing jeans that touched my bra, but here I am. I the n go to my kitchen, make the first of only two cups of coffee I am allowed to ha all day, whip up a nice spinach shake, take my prenatal vitamins (gummies, no iron), drink some Kefir, and eat a bowl of iron rich cereal. After my one throwing up incident, I discovered the iron in my prenatals was making me feel sick. So, this has been my routine ever since. Grape Nut Flakes have been my new best friend.

Once I am at work, I get nice and comfy at my desk and stay that way until the leg cramps hit. I have no idea why, but if I sit too long, I get a strange cramp in my leg that comes out of nowhere.  This is the biggest nuisance in the last month. Throughout the day, I snack on things from time to time, drink large amounts of water, and feel slightly uncomfortable when people rub their hands all over my belly. I have never done this to someone else. I feel weird just reaching out and rubbing someone’s stomach. Yet, people I barely even know seem to feel like it is ok to just reach out and give a rub. I often imagine smacking these people and breaking their hands off, but so far, I just smile through the uncomfortable moment.

When I get home from work, I either go to my second job(a job I love but am afraid I won’t be able to do much longer), or I go home and crash. I try to walk the dog or get a little exercise, but I must admit I have mostly been lazy during this pregnancy. I also don’t cook much and typically get take out or microwave some vegan, organic, GMO free meal. To end the day, I put on a little music and watch my baby dance a bit before we both drift off to sleep.

So, if you wonder what it is like to be pregnant, it is actually kind of nice. I have this cool feeling that someone is always with me, I am fascinated with my changing body, and for the most part, I feel pretty amazing. Do I miss running, martinis, sushi, oysters, and energy drinks? Yes, I do, but they do seem a lot less important when you have a little one inside. I know I will have them again and I am pretty certain the sacrifice will be worth it the second I look in my daughter’s eyes. I will admit that, if given the chance, I think I would even like to do this again. Just don’t quote me on that until after I go through the birthing process.

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