My mother-in-law was here last weekend, and she is a wonderful guest: generous (she arrived with a suitcase of presents); helpful (she made dinner, including one of the best rhubarb crisps I have ever had); and respectful (she almost never offers unsolicited advice). I know! She’s like a dream-mother-in-law… And yet? in the brief 4 days of her visit, I realized how much I craved my alone time. And I don’t even mean time alone with Duncan – I mean A-L-O-N-E all-by-myself time.
A year ago today, I was just over 8 months pregnant, and it was starting to get a little ugly. Well, I felt a little ugly. I told Duncan he had to tell me, periodically, that I was beautiful – “but not now because then I’ll know you’re just saying it to placate me!” – It never worked. I always suspected him of following orders after that…
And I had heartburn (maxing out on the recommended daily dose of antacids for pregnant women). And my hips ached. And my pelvis felt like it was cracking/had cracked. I had a really easy pregnancy – these above represent the sum total of my complaints, and they really only kicked in in month 7. But while I was creaking and groaning and Owen was scratching my insides (“where nae men should be!”)* – scritch, scratch – people who had had babies were telling me that I’d miss being pregnant. That I should enjoy my peace and quiet while it lasted.
But I kind of disagree.
I wasn’t the most gracious host. I resented the bloat and the discomfort. An hour or two after Owen’s birth, yes, I was marvelling that we had a son, I was also so extraordinarily joyous NOT to be pregnant anymore.
“I’m not pregnant!” I said, jubilantly, as soon as Duncan and I were alone with Owen. I seriously think the “now we have a baby” part might have been second on my mind.
People talk about getting your body back after pregnancy – and they mean losing the baby weight – but seriously? What was WAY MORE IMPORTANT was having myself to myself. And even though the first several weeks were sleep-deprived, my hips stopped aching, my heartburn went away, and my pelvis knit itself back together. And I could take naps BY MYSELF.
I’d like to do the pregnancy thing one more time, and I’ll consider myself lucky if I get there again. But I so vastly prefer having a child on the outside than on the inside.
*A quote from Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Cranford, referring to a band of housebreaking men. It’s a great book, about spinsters!