An Open Letter to (and From) the First Trimester
Dear First Trimester:
The way I see it, I'm a reasonable person. And being that I'd met you before in the crevices of Autumn 2013, I had what I believed was a reasonable understanding of how you would work with me the second time around. No working relationship is perfect, of course, but with my previous experience, I was optimistic. First Trimester? Why not!
Please don’t misunderstand: the little pink plus sign both stunned and thrilled me, as it should have. The reactions of friends and family members have been as supportive and enthusiastic and loving as I could have ever asked them to be. “Pregnant again! Fantastic! This is going to be amazing!” they all said.
I nodded with dizzy euphoria, like a football player focused on the goal line, with no idea there were six three-hundred-pound men behind me waiting to take me down.
I know, I know, this is not supposed to really be about me. That the growth that’s burrowed deep into my body is something both intrinsically of me and entirely independent, just like my beautiful toddler son. There is a new person coming into this world, and I welcome the opportunity to serve as its host. I am incredibly grateful for the eventual natural outcome of this doomsday gauntlet.
But you could’ve given us some warning that it was, after all, a doomsday gauntlet. Before I calmly started a damn magazine website in the middle of the hottest summer anyone can remember, with a full-time job and a two-year-old in tow to begin with. I would have come more prepared.
I threw out my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting less than ten minutes after I brought Ollie home from the hospital. It probably belonged in the garbage way before that, to be fair. I was confident that after 40+ weeks of growing the baby that was my first son in my womb, I knew what pregnancy was all about. Dozens of friends came to me in the interlude between pregnancies, asking for advice: herbal nausea remedies, dietary suggestions, which creams to buy to avoid stretch marks. I smugly fielded all of them, comfortably seated upon my throne of MOM KNOWLEDGE.
And then you came along. Bringing shivers, tingles, nightmares. A litany of nonsensical symptoms. A scourge upon my appetite, a blight upon my bathroom scale. A new list of nutritional obstacles: banana, friend or foe? I never quite figured out which.
So while I have to thank you for the utility you serve, I’m not quite sure I can forgive you for the whirlwind of disillusionment and borderline prenatal depression (is that a thing? If it is, you invented it) of the past four (FOUR! NOT THREE) months. I’m tired, I’m hungry -- no I’m not, yes I am -- and I can’t stand the sight of any more horse tranquilizer shaped vitamins. You owe me an apology. Here’s your shot.
Dear Ashley, you winsome baby mama with a penchant for gagging:
I wish I could say I come in peace, but that, as you know, would be about the farthest thing from true. And I wish I could say sorry, but the truth is, much like you--toddler-rearing, fetus-concocting, online magazine-peddling preggo--I’m just trying to do my freaking job.
Ever hear the old adage, “the only way out is through?” (Or perhaps consider tattooing it on your shapely postpartum body, adjacent to that new colony of stretch marks blooming on your left thigh? No?) That’s the type of thing we’re dealing with here. Meager nausea or not, I bet two English majors would welcome the likes of a little philosophy. So here’s the deal. I’m one of those complicated types that, the more you resist me, the worse I become. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it’s just how I work.
You seem well-versed in the way of natural birth literature (heard you got an epidural though, joke’s on you), so you’ll probably #resonate with a contraction metaphor a la Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. You know how they tell you if you resist the “wave” (they mean the pain) by tensing up your body, the baby can actually withdraw higher into the birth canal, extending the labor process by, oh, I don’t know, long enough that you want to gouge someone’s eyes out? It’s a thing, I promise you.
I’m kind of like that. Here’s a secret: hating me just gives me more power over you. I know THEY out there preaching #selfcare (take it easy, stay in bed, give yourself a break, etc. etc.) but let me let you in on a little secret: there’s a fine line between caring for your mind/body apparatus and choosing to withdraw from abundance because your situation sucks. Days spent in bed lamenting your sickness while surrounded by string cheese wrappers isn’t going to get you anywhere but deeper into the suffering.
Twelve weeks, 14 weeks, 20 weeks, full-term. I’m happy to go anytime. And I will, when I’m good and ready (mostly when that placenta is good and ready, TBQH). But in the meantime, I’d be both edified and entertained if you attempted to hold on to hope. If you stopped wasting your energy on throwing shade at me, you might find you have a little more mental space to decide if that banana is a good idea or not.
I’m over here working overtime (time and a half anyone?) making your body a safe place for that baby to “burrow” (not sure I follow that verb choice). So let me handle the physical part on my time and in my way, and you can use your precious energy to manage how you choose to feel about it. Here’s another tattoo option: when you can’t change your circumstances, change your perspective. Choose hope.
-The First Trimester
P.S. Gotta give you props for starting a magazine on the first try, in the first tri.