What you’re supposed to feel

On Friday, we went for our first ultrasound! I was pleasantly surprised that this happens over the belly, and that unlike other medical procedures I’ve had, the lab tech is actually excited to talk to you and explain what’s going on. Usually, I’m looking at x-rays/ultrasounds/MRIs (fortunately I haven’t had too many of these, but, you know, running injuries over the years and other hypochondria) imagining the worst and feeling like I don’t have permission to speak. This was so different! Nick and I watched and she explained the little fluttering heartbeat, and the yolk sack of food that sustains the embryo until the placenta is ready to take over.

Seeing the heartbeat was exciting–but it was so fast! I thought of what I’d feel like if I had way too much coffee on an empty stomach and then got in a fight with someone at work and had to go race the 800. Still nothing compared to this crazy heartbeat! Because I can get emotional fairly easily (actually, I haven’t really noticed being any more emotional since getting pregnant, but I already cry every time I see a movie and often when I read a book, when I get passionate about a political issue, when I’m worried I’ve upset a friend…) I thought I might cry. That wasn’t really the kind of emotion I felt–usually I cry when I feel overwhelmed, but on Friday, I just felt reassured. Like I could finally breathe out just a little. In the past few days, I’ve felt more comfortable telling a few people. I told my boss, and we made some concrete plans for next year. She inadvertently spilled the secret to my officemates, which ended up being okay since they were more excited than I could have possibly imagined (including, strangely, my 23 year old single male co-worker), and my hunch that secrecy and fear are really a toxic combination for me has been confirmed as I’ve felt better, and finally have begun to allow myself to be excited.

I do still feel like there’s a lot of talk about how one is supposed to feel, which is why I’m trying to be really honest that I didn’t cry or feel overwhelmed. Which is not to say that I haven’t felt overwhelmed many times since finding out I’m going to be a mom, but the moment of seeing the fluttering little heart on the squirming little creature felt like magic of modern science, and a relief at the access to this new information (related: I read about a woman who bought an ultrasound machine at home so she could look at her baby whenever she got nervous. After Friday, I completely understand both why this woman would do that and how I really hope that I never talk Nick into letting me do that).

What I have felt: excited, scared, stressed about keeping this major all-consuming obsession a secret, anxiety about my career (both in terms of decisions that are mine to make, and in terms of things that are largely out of my hands, like how being pregnant will affect the courses I’m assigned when I go back to teaching full-time and how being a pregnant woman head coach doesn’t really fit in with the Old Boys Club of track and field), hope that I find the energy and discipline to write as much as possible between now and December, shame over vain concerns about my body changing, gratitude for my parents’ health, proximity, and support, relief, inadequacy, guilt for worrying when I know I’m lucky to be pregnant, to have a job I can return to, to have financial stability, to have a husband who loves me and to worry still.

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