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Updated on June 27, 2011

the waves of pregnancy



As morning made itself apparent through my bedroom window, I turned over and felt that first familiar wave of nausea roll through me, as though I was trapped in a row-boat during a typhoon. Weak and dizzy, I stumbled toward the bathroom to retrieve something to calm the swirling current in my stomach, where I caught sight of my greenish-looking reflection in the mirror.

I had seen that pale face before.

Quickly downing a healthy dose of Pepto-Bismol, I did everything to convince myself that my queasy, peaked condition was the result of something bad I had eaten, or perhaps, the endless summer heat, or better yet, some 'flu bug' going around that would be gone in just a few hours.

The hours, however, turned into days, the days into weeks, and the tempestuous mornings continued without let up. After meticulously counting and recounting the spaces on the calendar, it became painfully evident that a visit to the doctor and a urine test were in order. For someone who had 'weathered this storm' before, I really should have been prepared, but I simply did not want to face the fact that there was, once again, another force acting as Captain and Commander of my life.

The thought of drowning myself occurred to me momentarily when my doctor announced, in his usual cavalier manner, that I was positively pregnant. Immediately detecting my feelings of anxiety, my perceptive obstetrician tried to comfort me by saying, "Well ol' girl, it's not like you haven't been through this before." At that particular moment, however, accepting the fact that I had experienced the 'pregnancy process' a few times already, did not make the notion of going through it once again any easier or anymore desirable.


Accompanying the constant 'seasickness' was the frustrating feeling of ambivalence; the 'natural mother' inside me was, of course, delighted at the idea of another baby; (after all, babies are so very precious). However, the 'practical woman' in me was consumed with doubt, worry, and fear, combined with a degree of jealousy and contempt. I felt so all alone--yet never alone. I wondered how I was going to care for another child. Loving and providing for my existing children demanded all of my energy, so how could I possibly have enough love and devotion left to share with another little shipmate? By this time, I was already beginning to feel uncomfortable in my size seven Levis that I had dieted so strictly to fit back into after the last pregnancy. It was maddening! Where did this person, only about one inch long, get such powers to command what I ate, when I slept, and what clothes I could wear?


The turbulence in my stomach began to subside, while the size of my appetite increased and my measurements expanded. I was forced to dig out the old, baggy maternity uniforms and adjust to being 'big as a barge'. Although my 'tiny commander' was, at this stage, only about four inches long, my body managed to add another stretch mark while accomodating the swelling of my uterus and abdomen. I wondered if I was going to end up looking like a navigational chart of the Bermuda Triangle after this one.


The cravings began. No pickles and ice cream for me---One pregnancy I craved potato chips, with another it was cole slaw, and this time it was McDonald's filet-o-fish sandwiches. I began to accept the fact that, along with weight gain and stretch marks, comes a loss of good judgment.


They say that the center (or eye) of a storm is quite calm. So it goes with pregnancy. During what is called the second tri-mester, there is a peculiar sort of peacefulness that exists. This was the time when I felt healthy, happy and full of energy. I sewed new baby clothes and mended old ones, painted and re-arranged drawers and closets to make room for the additional 'bunkmate'. I also read countless baby books and survival manuals. Similar to a scuba diver, my breathing exercises and Lamaze classes were very important during these active months. With the doctor's confirmation of a strong heartbeat and the intense activity within my enormous belly, my feelings began to change toward the 'force' controlling my body. Suddenly, rather than some obsessive 'Captain Ahab' that had taken over, the little 'firstmate' in my womb sent familiar signals of love and comradeship. Each time I felt the playful activity of the new life inside me, I was filled with wonder. Who is this person? Is he happy? Will he be healthy? What is he thinking and feeling?


One thing became increasingly apparent: this 'little sailor' was beginning to feel that his quarters were much too cramped. There were times when I was certain that he was trying to poke a port hole through my left side, the side that had been weakened by the previous occupant. The sensations of closeness and comradeship were growing into a fervency for freedom and independence. The tranquility of the second trimester was over and the most challenging part of this stormy ordeal was just ahead.

Every movement became an effort, the backaches were constant and I resorted to waddling in place of walking. Carrying a baby at this point is like carrying an anchor--with legs. With each weekly doctors visit, I became more miserable and irritable. My doctor insisted that my other babies were proof that pregnancy was not terminal; it just seemed that way after several months of not being able to see my own feet.


For many women, the first indication that the pregnancy process is about to conclude are the labor pains that strike like sudden bolts of lightning. In my case, the 'begining of the end' of each of my pregnancies occurred more on the order of a tidal wave. The pressure became so intense that the membranes in the womb ruptured and discharged. It was terribly embarrassing to find myself very damp and powerless to do anything about it. Arriving at the hospital, my contractions were regular and it was not long before I was in the delivery room listening to my doctor shouting, "All hands on deck". Although I had experienced this trama before, there simply are no words that can accurately describe the rage and fury that occur during those last minutes of labor. But when I felt as though my insides were being violently ripped out, I knew the 'storm' was over. There, between the blood, sweat, and tears, was another successful navigator; a little louder and fatter than the others, but just as healthy and beautiful.

The stormy process of pregnancy was never easy for me, but as I held this magnificent new creation in my arms, I knew it was all worth it and that, somehow, we would find room for him.

Linda Marie Steele


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