It’s July, and it’s hot. And I’m pregnant. And uncomfortable.
My husband is a saint for sticking with me over the past nine months. I haven’t quite been myself, and I’ve had more low moments this pregnancy than I ever have in any other year of my life. One of the most embarrassing ones happened when I yelled some pathetic defensive comment at a snarky little middle school boy who was making rude comments to his friends and shooting disgusted looks my way at the gym. I’m definitely not proud of it.
I know I’ve been writing a lot about pregnancy and parenthood, but it’s inevitable that we all tell stories through the filters of our own lives. This is the stage of life that I’m in right now. Sometimes (especially right now), I’d like to fast-forward and move past the uncomfortable parts. But life is hard sometimes, and the tough stuff makes us stronger.
While this pregnancy has been harder than the first in many ways, the most annoying has been the severe varicose veins on my right leg. It’s been medically verified that they’re deficient and diseased at this point, but until I deliver, there’s little I can do except wear full-length compression stockings to aid circulation. Even with the fancy sock, my veins are painful, itchy, and swollen all the time.
I’ve been trying to figure out how these stupid varicose veins on my right leg are supposed to make me a better or stronger person, especially when they grump me to no end and prevent me from getting the exercise my neurotic self needs. Plus, wearing long skirts or pants to cover them up is getting pretty dang hot. The last month of pregnancy is sweaty enough without wearing a second pant leg in the dead of summer.
After throwing a pity party for a few months, I finally decided to change my attitude and choose joy. This is a conscious decision rather than some momentous change in my circumstances. I can’t wallow and sit still all summer, because you know what? I’m the one at home with our two-year old. I’m not going to let my temporary frustrations squash the excitement and joy that Rowan wakes up with every day.
Bringing joy to a two-year old’s world also includes abandoning all pride. So, instead of suffering in long pants, I’ve been unashamedly rocking my compression stockings with shorts, at the swimming pool, and while floating the river. I’ve realized that it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I’m uncomfortable, in pain, or feeling kind of gross about myself. It doesn’t matter if it looks like I’m carrying a watermelon in my stomach or that I waddle when I walk. It doesn’t even matter if a puberty-ridden teenager is visibly repulsed by me. Because you know what? My two-year old doesn’t care, and he’s what matters.
He won’t remember that I had gnarly ropelike purple veins protruding from my right leg. He doesn’t notice that it’s hard for me to sit down on the floor next to his Legos, or that it’s even harder to get up when he sprints away towards the open back door. He won’t remember that I wore a sports bra, running shorts, and compression stockings at the pool instead of a swimsuit. He’s not comparing me to anyone else, and he won’t remember if I was feeling a little self-conscious, exhausted, or less than myself.
He’ll remember that when he tenderly called out “Mama?”, I came to his aid. He’ll remember floating the river with his parents and running the rapids a few days before they closed them for safety issues (oops). He’ll remember splashing me in the pool and laughing hysterically as he sprinted up and down every hill he could find. He’ll remember getting out of his stroller, grabbing the dog’s leash, and running wild on the local trails. He’ll remember me taking his extended hand and following him on whatever adventure he had in mind. That’s what he’ll remember.
Or not. I mean, he’s only two.