[01 March, 2015]

tri 2

I arrived in Russia toward the end of the first trimester and began the hectic journey of starting a new job and also setting up prenatal care. Socialized healthcare, for what it's worth, is still amazing to me. Sure, some aspects of it may be less fancy than private care (for example, I have to bring my own towel/sheet to put down on the exam table because they would rather not spend money on those disposable paper towel things, and frankly, I think this way is more eco-friendly and not a huge hassle anyway), but the quality, in my experience, has still always been up to standard. Dealing with insurance issues in the US has been so stressful and everything medical was so expensive and completely unaffordable to even the average middle class person like myself, let alone others, that I honestly breathed a huge sigh of relief when I could get checkups and vitamins and ultrasounds and all the tests without paying a dime (well, except through taxes).

The most annoying part about the second trimester for me has been everyone saying how this is the "honeymoon" phase. All the exclamations of "Enjoy it now! You're going to feel great! All this energy! Finally no nausea!" were mostly irrelevant, so I tried to ignore them without being too bothered although this was very hard.

As an aside, I am noticing a theme here though, that I get easily annoyed at people's unsolicited advice, warnings, experience-sharing, etc. I know I have to work on this, as it's about to get so much worse with an actual child that everyone has an opinion about. I just can't be bothered listening to things that are usually irrelevant to me, especially when I have generally thought about my situation already and made a decision or formed my own opinion. Seriously, I am not stupid and I am good at thinking, deciphering, intuiting, comparing-contrasting, and concluding, dammit! I am in charge of my own life and everything related to it (my body, my pregnancy, etc.), so let me be the master of it. I understand that the argument is that people just want to "share" or "relate," not disempower, but honestly, I still find all of it unnecessary and invasive. I've got to find a way to let it roll right off of me though, and that is currently my struggle.

But back to the honeymoon. Because my first trimester was not traumatic and did not include much morning sickness, it did not feel like an immediate relief to enter the second. In fact, the nausea started to peak around weeks 14-18, and I even did puke once some time in that timeframe (I was also feeling under the weather and weak all around then, so the puking did not come out of the blue completely). My energy did not pick up in the second trimester either. I spent a lot of time running around (while being exhausted) and stressing out about getting hired for the job though, so that might've also taken it out of me. That whole situation was rather ridiculous; plus, now I needed to tell my new boss about the pregnancy and I wasn't even hired officially yet!

But growing a baby still takes a toll on your body, no matter what trimester you're in. For example, I knew I was losing a lot of calcium to bone formation when one morning my tooth chipped. I picked up on my calcium intake and also on iron, which are the two ingredients they really watch for here. Suddenly my diet included a lot of dairy products, sesame oil and seeds, liver, and pomegranates. Good thing it was winter and pomegranates were in season. And good thing I love me some cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and milk forever and ever.

My stomach wasn't super visible yet, but I could feel it expanding. The sensation was like feeling bloated, like I ate too much and now all the space inside was filled beyond capacity. Except that feeling never lessened after a bit of time. I still tried to wear clothes that would hide any possible bump, partly due to needing time to adjust to my changing body and partly due to wanting to avoid people's stares, guesses, and again, unsolicited advice.

I struggled against this imposed (patriarchal) image of a pregnant woman: the glowing and life-giving goddess who radiates with maternal calmness and happiness over impending motherhood. This image is a very tight corset to fit into, one that does not allow for fears and unhappiness and thoughts about anything other than motherhood and disconnection from your changing body. But reality is complex. I was equally stressed, worried about my job, focused on non-motherhood-related projects, and trying to save money by fitting into my regular clothing as long as possible, for example, as I was marveling that there was a new life steadily forming inside of me. The marveling wasn't constant, but it was intimate and genuine, something that I think brought me to an authentic connection with baby and my body, not one forced through narrow stereotypes.

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