Every day I'm reminded that I'm not pregnant anymore. My mindless morning routine of getting ready has become my most dreaded part of the day. I wake up and weigh myself only to see the number is the same as it was yesterday. I would be over 13 weeks now. Just starting to show and just far enough along to start sharing my exciting news. Most days I skip washing my hair because it feels like a punch to my stomach to see all of my lost hair on the shower wall. Thank God for dry shampoo. I try to round-brush the little baby hairs that had started growing around my face. They're about an inch and a half long...68 days worth of new growth. And of course they're just short enough to be completely unmanageable which makes me even more infuriated. I pat concealer below my eyes, attempting to cover those brown spots that have been fading slowly as the weeks go by. Part of me wants it all to completely go away so I can get through a morning without replaying every difficult memory of the past few weeks. But part of me feels like the second that my baby hairs grow out or my pregnancy mask completely fades, then the last part of my baby is gone. It may break my heart, but I still get to carry around these little memories of her everyday. Memories nobody knows about but me.
It's a daily struggle taking Joe into daycare. There are pregnant moms everywhere dropping off their kids. What's worse is watching moms walk through the parking lot holding the hands of their two kids that look just about 2 years apart. But I can prepare for it. I know it's coming. I just have to take a deep breath and focus on Joe and be grateful for what I do have. What's really hard are those moments that completely blindside me. Like scrolling through old photos and accidentally hitting "play"on the video of us revealing our pregnancy to my parents, and then having to think about what to do with the "Big Brother Joe" shirt that's still sitting on our dresser. It's not right to reuse it for the next baby, but I also can't find it in my heart to get rid of it. Or the time I felt my stomach drop as I was sitting in a meeting talking about the benefits of omega 3 in fish and a coworker gestured to me while talking about the importance of fish during pregnancy. She was looking for my reassurance. I know it was because I was the only one in the room that's had a child, but it doesn't make the blow any easier to take.
The guilt, on the other hand, absolutely consumes me. Every time I do something that I couldn't do while pregnant, I feel happy and sad all at the same time. Like drinking, for instance. I was upset when I found out I was pregnant because I didn't want to miss out on all the fun day-drinking that's likely to happen this summer. It sounds so stupid and selfish now... because now I get to have a glass of wine with girlfriends again. Like I got what I wanted or something. And every sip I take reminds me that I'm no longer carrying my precious little baby. Same goes with the first time eating a turkey sandwich or eggs over-easy or brie cheese. For a split second I actually get excited that - yes - I finally get to have them again. But then the pain sinks in, because the reason I get to doesn't make any of it worth it. I would give anything to be the tired and nauseous designated driver again. It's lose-lose, I guess. I thought I've experienced all that mom-guilt has to offer, but I was wrong. The mom-guilt you experience after your baby is gone far surpasses going back to work, or stopping breastfeeding or even being excited for a kid-free vacation. It's a heavy guilt that weighs on every limb of your body...and it's absolutely awful.
James took this picture when I was 6 months pregnant with Joe. It was such a perfect day with him at the park. He made me feel so special and beautiful wanting to take pictures of me and my belly, and now I cherish them so much. I know I have so much in my life to be thankful for and I will eventually get through this and be even stronger than I was before. For now, I will not take anything for granted and I will appreciate every minute I have with the people I love.