That’s just the way it is.

I’m excited about becoming a mom this year.  I really am.  Compared to everyone else’s excitement over this pregnancy, however, I look mildly interested (at best.)  This has me feeling pretty crummy.  I just can’t find that jumping-up-and-down, squealing-with-joy kind of happy feeling.

Seeing babies in public (if they’re behaving well) makes me smile, but I don’t have the urge to go play with them, hold them or hang around them.  It just doesn’t interest me.  I thought pregnancy would make me more interested in babies.  I guess I was wrong.  Of course, everyone says it’s totally different with your own child, so I’m counting on that.

Having my belly touched is something I have NOT enjoyed.  I can only imagine this will get worse when I start to show.  I need to find a shirt that says, “Yes, I’m pregnant.  Don’t touch my belly.”  I’m just annoyed with people in general today.  Those dang hormones are making me so grouchy.

Longing for a family or to spend time with children was never something I did.  Somehow I thought those feelings would magically change.  Heck!  Everything else is changing, why not that? 

I’m struggling with feeling a little defective as a woman with my lack of maternal, nurturing, family minded thinking.  That’s not a new revelation, but it seems more important now that I’m in my current phase of life and transition.

*Sigh*

I think that’s enough negativity for one day.  Thanks for hearing me out.

ACTUALLY, there’s one more thing.  Sometimes people tell you they “know how you feel.”  However, I can’t think of one single person that is or has been in my exact situation or that knows exactly how my brain works, so I doubt they really know how I feel.  I know they mean well, but sometimes it’s nice to just have someone listen and accept that your situation is unique to you.

I found this story on a friend’s Facebook note, and it’s definitely worth sharing.

***From Woman’s Day in Reader’s Digest sometime back in 2001!

My in-laws had just returned from a harrowing drive back to New York City after wintering in Florida. “The first time the car broke down we were somewhere in North Carolina,” my mother-in-law told me over the phone. “We had it fixed, and then it stalled again in Delaware. But the worst was on the Verrazano Bridge during rush hour. It seemed as if we’d never get home.”

“That sounds horrible,” I said, ready to launch into my own horror story-a car that conked out at 9:30 p.m. in a deserted mall parking lot.

But someone knocked at her door, so she had to say good-bye. “Thank you for listening,” she added, “but thank you most of all for not telling me your worst car story.”

My cheeks burning, I hung up. In the days ahead I found myself thinking about the wisdom of her parting words.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve begun to complain-about a fight with my son, a professional disappointment, or even car problems- only to have my friend cut me off with, “The same thing just happened to me.”

Suddenly we’re talking about her ungrateful kid, her lousy boss, her leaky fuel line. And I’m left nodding my head in all the right places, wondering if we haven’t all come down with a bad case of emotional attention deficit disorder.

It’s easy to see how this version of empathy- “I know just how you feel and I can prove it”-gets confused with the real thing. Nothing’s more natural than trying to soothe an overwrought friend with assurances that she’s not alone.

But calamities resemble one another only from afar; up close they’re as unique as fingerprints. Your friend’s husband may have been downsized out of a job, just like your own, but no two families have identical bank accounts, severance packages, or backup plans.

Saying “I feel your pain” also can be a prelude to offering advice: “Here’s what I did, and here’s what you should do.” But when a car trip takes three times as long as it should, or your child runs a high fever in the middle of the night, do you really want to hear how your friend coped with a similar situation?

What we all hope for when we’re feeling low or agitated or wildly happy is to find a friend who sounds as if she has all the time in the world to listen. This ability to be with someone in her pain or happiness is the cornerstone of genuine empathy.

Fortunately, empathy is eminently easy to learn. Ever since the conversation with my mother-in-law, for example, I’ve squelched my impulse to interrupt a friend when she confides in me. I’m learning to follow the other person’s lead, facial expressions, tone of voice and what’s left unsaid.

I’m also more likely to recognize and appreciate empathy when I’m the beneficiary. The other day I called a friend to complain that I was feeling nervous and couldn’t concentrate. “Want to tell me about it?” she offered. So I rambled on for a while.

Finally, I thanked her for listening, and asked how she was feeling. “We can talk about me tomorrow,” she said. Now that’s empathy.

We don’t always want answers or advice. Sometimes we just want company.***

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Easter Getaway & A Painful Day

Before I dig into the details of my fun, family filled, exhausting but great visit home for Easter, I’m going to get yesterday’s scare out of the way.  Tuesday night passed with tossing and turning as I couldn’t seem to get comfortable.  My back was just not cooperating.  As 4 A.M. Wednesday morning rolled around, I was engulfed in an excruciating amount of lower back pain. 

Having just been to the doctor a week before, the contact number for the nurses at the hospital was still out on my nightstand.  I called, spoke with a nurse and was given some suggestions for easing the pain.  The nurse did not sound alarmed or worried since I was not having the usual symptoms that would accompany back pain to make it a worrisome case for the baby.  She recommended a warm shower or bath and to take some Tylenol.  I didn’t have Tylenol, but I did try the warm shower AND bath.  I also tried using a warmed lavender pillow on the area of discomfort.  This produced no relief, so I tried all sorts of positions sitting and laying down.  Nothing was helping.  I called the nurses again about two hours after my first call.  I was given the same suggestions by this second nurse.  I went to the store and bought the Tylenol and some ginger/lemon tea hoping that I would soon be feeling relief.  I gave the medication a few hours to work.  Still nothing.  A third and finally a fourth call to the nurses occurred by 1 P.M.  Finally the last nurse told me to just go to the ER if I was in such bad pain, though she didn’t suspect anything wrong with the pregnancy.  She said my symptoms sounded like nerve pain. 

I decided I would walk my dog before going to the hospital, and to my great surprise and relief, the pain subsided considerably by the time our walk was complete.  It was a true answer to my prayers.  Of course, I never considered a visit to the Urgent Care office one mile from our home until after the pain was over!  I’ll remember them if there happens to be a next time. 

All of this is to say that I am truly grateful to be free of pain today.  I woke up thanking God for the blessings of health and comfort!  How easily I forget to give thanks for those true gifts.  My conclusion is that I was probably suffering from sciatica, also known as sciatic nerve pain.  I hope I will not have to go through that again.  I am considering prenatal yoga as a way to strengthen my back and core muscles.  This is known to help with back pain as well as promote a healthier pregnancy and easier labor.  If I can’t find a prenatal yoga class to join I will order a dvd program to do at home.

Now that we have the bad out of the way, let’s get to the good!

I went home to visit my parents, in-laws, friends and other family for a week.  I arrived just in time for Easter.  Each day was packed with visits, and I enjoyed seeing so many wonderful people.  I went to a pre-Easter family get together straight after getting off the plane on Saturday.  Sunday was spent at church, then at a family crawfish boil (yum!,) and at my wonderful in-law’s home.  Needless to say my first thirty hours back in the South were exhausting.  I did more in that time than I’d done in the two weeks prior to the trip combined.

Thankfully things slowed down a bit after that.  On Monday I was able to celebrate an aunt’s birthday and my great-aunt and great-uncle’s wedding anniversary.  I think it was their 45th!  I also squeezed in a little time with a dear friend and my sweet brother this day.  So, maybe things weren’t slowing down! 

Tuesday was spent with a good group of old buddies.  We had breakfast together at a friend’s house, and then we headed to New Orleans for a quick trip through the French Market, Jackson Square and lunch at Pat O’Brien’s.  Our original plans were to spend time at the Audubon Zoo, but rain in the forecast changed our minds.  As things would go, the weather was fine once we got there.

After this point my days get a little mixed up, but I know my parents and I had a nice dinner and visit with my in-laws one evening.  My grandmother, parents and I spent a day shopping, eating and watching Jane Eyre (my grandmother’s favorite story.)  I was able to meet an old friend for lunch to celebrate her engagement, completion of law school and my new mother-t0-be status.  My sweet neighbors made breakfast and had me over one morning.  I know I’m leaving some things out, but I’ll just blame it on “pregnancy brain!” 

The baby got its first gifts.  These include a cute red winter pajama outfit, a baby spoon (passed down from my great grandmother to my great aunt to me) and a fuzzy guitar baby blanket.  I also received a cute maternity top from my mother-in-law and some maternity clothes from my parents.  Can you tell they’re excited!? 

As much as I enjoyed my trip, it was great to be back to my husband at the end of the week.  He was a trooper while I was gone, getting extra hours in at work and living off meals I’d frozen and left for him.  He’s the one who originally encouraged me to take the trip, and I am so thankful for all the work, sacrifices and love he invests in our relationship. 

Thank you to everyone who made my trip home a great one!  I wanted to see many more people, but there’s just never enough time to see everyone.  Also, thank you to all of you who showed concern for me as I went through yesterday’s episode.  It is a wonderful feeling to know you are loved and cared about. 

 On a side note, many of you will be shocked to know that I barely used my camera on this whole trip.  I’m still shocked with how few pictures I have from the trip.  There are only a handful of shots I got while in New Orleans and a few photos of a lizard at my parent’s home. 

All photos copyright of Melissa Berhel

It’s feeling more real.

I’m back from my Easter vacation, but I’ll write about that another time.

We went to our first appointment with the doctor on Monday and saw the baby’s heart beating!  It’s so tiny, but seeing it made this pregnancy seem more real.  I’ve also had extreme fatigue this week, which has made it feel very real.  I felt like a zombie yesterday.  Part of this fatigue is due to my very restless nights as I combat some extreme seasonal allergies without medicine.  Thankfully, I was able to sleep last night with only 4-6 interruptions, versus the 30 or so of the past few nights.

There are some ideas I had about pregnancy that have not been true for me.  You always hear that women are “glowing” when they are pregnant.  Instead, I’m having the worst acne of my life!  I’m hoping it goes away once my body adjusts to the hormone changes that are going on.  Another idea of mine was that pregnant women are always hungry and chowing down on tasty foods like ice cream.  I haven’t wanted anything rich to eat.  I really haven’t had much of an appetite for anything, actually.  Don’t worry.  I’m still eating. 

I’m still very thankful that my nausea has been manageable.  After these past few days, I’m amazed and impressed with women who work through their pregnancies.  What a challenge!

I’ll leave you with a photo of our baby from Monday’s appointment.  Hubby has dubbed the little babe “Spot!”  At least it sounds more personal than calling our baby “it.”

The baby is the oval on the bottom. The circle is the "yolk" according to our doctor.