Zelophehad’s Daughters

The Joy of Being “Not Pregnant”*

Posted by Vada

Last August I started a post entitled “Enjoyment and Productivity, or, The Adventures of Supermom.” I was celebrating the fact that I was writing quite a bit, and loving it. But not only was a writing a lot, I was doing better about keeping up with all of the other things I was supposed to be doing as well. My house was cleaner than ever, I cooked more dinners, I was more pleasant with my kids and I played with them more. Life was great. I posited that perhaps I was so productive overall because I was doing something I loved and was enjoying myself, and that made me happier and better able to deal with all of the other things as well.

The reason I never finished that post is that a few days after I started it I found out I was pregnant. For me, when I find out I’m pregnant (at about 4 weeks) is about when I start feeling the effects of pregnancy as well. And so I stopped writing, stopped cooking and cleaning, stopped being nearly as good with my kids, and just generally stopped being happy and enjoying life. (Not that any of this was a conscious decision — these were all just side-effects of getting pregnant.) And so the post fell by the wayside.

While my hypothesis had merit, I’m realizing that a lot of the reason I was so happy and productive is simply the fact that I was “not pregnant”. Not only that, I was not breastfeeding any longer, either. (Breastfeeding my second son went on a long time and was very draining on my body, in some of the same ways pregnancy is, due to his allergies and GI issues.) I was happier and more productive because I felt better physically than I had in years (even though there were other medical issues that hadn’t gone away).

So now, a month after the birth of my third son, I am greatly enjoying being “not pregnant” once again. I am breastfeeding him, but he already goes longer between feedings (or at least some of them) than #2 did at 6 months. He also seems to tolerate the hypoallergenic formula at least sort of, so I can supplement a little bit when I need to (thus I’m not nearly so physically drained). So even though I have a 3yo with autism, an almost 2yo who’s definitely starting to act like one and a month old baby, I’m feeling great. We went on a 3 mile hike with the kids last Saturday. My house remains pretty clean, and I’m even getting to the last few boxes that were never unpacked after our move last June. And I’m writing again. I wrote 150 words 2 days ago and 300 words yesterday. I think by next week (or possibly the week after) I can get back up to the 500 word a day minimum I was doing last August. And it feels great. And I feel great. I love being “not pregnant”.

*Some things are most clearly defined by what they are not, and deserve their own special terms (at least IMHO). The first of these terms I coined was “not summer”, referring to the months of January and February when we lived in Texas. These months are not hot enough to be summer, but they don’t belong to any of the other seasons, either (fall requires colored leaves, spring requires new growth, and winter requires snow). Thus they became “not summer”. “Not pregnant” is a (glorious) state of being that deserves it’s own terminology as well, and, well, the most defining characteristic of it is, of course, not being pregnant, so thus the term.

17 Responses to “The Joy of Being “Not Pregnant”*”

  1. 1.

    Amen, sister!
    My baby is 6 mo and takes a bottle, woohoo!
    My last 2 are 21 months apart, and after looking closely at a calendar, I realized I’d been breastfeeding or pregnant since April of 2005. It’s a long time to be lending out my body.
    Thanks for reminding me about how nice it is to not be pregnant.
    I babysat for a friend who had her 36 week OB appt and she rubbed her belly and I instinctively rubbed mine, but there was nothing there! :)
    I will add, though, that I am often grateful about being able to have babies, even though they can be physically and emotionally draining. They are such a wonderful blessing.
    As for not-summer, I’m in AZ and that’s exactly what we’ve got going here.

  2. 2.

    I can’t tell you just how much I relate to this post. Although I was so ecstatic I cried when I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd, it wasn’t long before the painful reality set in, and I really was pregnant. I was a terrible mom to my other two, I never cleaned, I never cooked, I never went anywhere or did anything. And I was sad and angry all the time (and sick). I knew it would end, eventually, but the eternity of pregnancy is something that cannot be adequately described, much less understood by one who has not done it. I never mean any offense to people who are not able to conceive, but being pregnant just sucks.

    And so I fully understand the joy of being “not pregnant.” I plan on being “not pregnant” for the rest of my life.

  3. 3.

    Sometimes I wake up in the night with a headache, one so bad that I can’t lie down. I have to take drugs, then sit up somewhere until the thing is completely gone — if I fall asleep with the tiniest crumb of it, I wake up again with a worse-than-ever headache. If I’m lucky, it goes away after a couple of hours and I can lie down again. On mornings after those episodes, I wake up and lie still for a long time, aware of and so grateful for the “not headache.”

    That’s as close as I can approximate your experience. At least I can endorse the positive existence of an absence.

  4. 4.

    Vada, you’re amazing! 3 kids under the age of 3, and you’re writing, cleaning, etc.?

    Love this post, too. I’ve been doing a lot of pregnancy/breastfeeding since 2004 (I got a 4 month break in 2006, though). I took Nyquil the other night for a cold–I almost forgot I could take it because I hadn’t had the option for so long.

  5. 5.

    I will just give a hearty AMEN to this entire post.

    I, too, am grateful that my body allows me to conceive and carry children without undue difficulty. That is, I don’t have trouble getting pregnant and once I am, I don’t get put in the hospital or nearly die trying to carry them to term.

    But, dear heavens above, the sickness. All day–worst at night, thank heavens for generic Zofram–the tiredness, the mood swings, the heartburn, the aches and pains and…I’ll stop. I still have until mid-November with this one (#4).

    So when I’m “not-pregnant”, I revel in it. I chase my children, catch them and tickle them and marvel: I don’t have to rest. Or throw-up. Or run to the bathroom. Ah, those glorious days yet to come…

  6. 6.

    I personally can attest to the joy of not being pregnant – and I thank God for that.

    I personally can attest to the joy of not looking pregnant – but not for the last few years.

  7. 7.

    Amen Vada. I hate being pregnant. And while breastfeeding isn’t too bad, I’m glad to be done with it now too. I had forgotten how much one gives up one’s body during pregnancy and nursing. By the time my second son was born, however, I remembered full well and was looking forward to being done with it. It was such an incredible feeling to wear my old bras again, toss the nursing pads, and feel comfortable in my body again.

  8. 8.

    I’ll second the joy of not having a headache. Or a stomach ache. Or being exhausted. (Some of us have a rough time with our bodies even when we’re not pregnant . . .)

  9. 9.

    wow… I want to bow in awe of vada, blogger extraordinaire, with three children under the age of three, a ‘pretty’ clean house, writing 300 words a day and hiking.

    I will admit to a tiny bit of envy… but mostly to a great deal of admiration.
    brava, sister.

  10. 10.

    My baby is 8 weeks old. It is great to be “not pregnant.”
    I keep surprising myself with how well I’m doing. (Life after #1 and #2 seemed harder).
    But then I go and have a hard day. Yesterday I was completely physically exhausted and then it affects my mood.
    Congrats on your baby.

  11. 11.

    I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old. And I’ve really been loving having the energy to get more done around the home and play with my children. Not that I don’t enjoy being pregnant with my children, because I really did enjoy that special time of feeling the first kick and everything… but I also enjoyed when the end of it finally came! We had decided to wait until our 10 month old was 3 before we had a third. We really wanted to spend time with them while there was one child for each parent to pack around. However… I may be pregnant again. If I am… 18 months between #2 and #3… definitely not in the plans… and although I would cherish this baby like the first two… I have to say that I really feel jipped of my “not pregnant/nursing” stage. I only quite nursing a few months ago…

  12. 12.

    I also love not being pregnant!!! My baby is 4 1/2 mos now, so we’re still heavily breastfeeding… I look forward to solid foods. I so understand where you are coming from when it comes to house organization, kids and patience, and extracurricular hobbies that make life worth living. I also write, and I find that there are times when I simply can’t… the first few months of PG, and the first few months post partum are two of those times.

    Hooray for babies that are growing up!

  13. 13.

    My two pregnancies weren’t the easiest and I didn’t “love” being pregnant, but I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that I was able to get pregnant and give birth to 2 relatively healthy boys (one has Down syndrome). I’ve spent most of the last 8 years wishing I could get pregnant again, and the past 18 months working on adopting (which is a horrific job, paperwork like you wouldn’t believe). I’ve had several friends go through terrible fertility problems – - they really have suffered. About 2 years ago in Relief Society opening exercises the president asked for any “good news” and one of the sisters piped up, “I’m not pregnant!” Not very pleasant for me to hear, since I’d just decided to have a needed surgery that would end my fertility (after a long time of trying w/o result). Anyway I think sometimes sisters may take for granted the fact of their fertility.

  14. 14.

    That’s a tough one, Ali. I’ve sometimes thought that there are two kinds of married Mormon women: those at the mercy of their fertility, and those of us who wish we had a little more fertility to be at the mercy of.

    But I think the irony is that one kind of struggle doesn’t cancel out the other. Just the other day I read someone who I surmised was struggling with her children who said she didn’t read infertility posts because they made her feel too guilty. I would really hope our sorrows, whatever, they are, don’t become a source of guilt for other people. I’ve struggled with infertility for a long time, but the fact that there are so many women who’d desperately like children doesn’t mean that bearing and raising children isn’t really, really hard. I can’t imagine the challenges of having three kids three and under, as Vada does. And so I can smile and rejoice with her at the joys of being “not pregnant.”

  15. 15.

    Great comment, Eve. I particularly like this point,

    one kind of struggle doesn’t cancel out the other

    which is so broadly applicable. Just because I struggle with one issue doesn’t mean that someone else can’t have a very real struggle with the completely opposite issue.

  16. 16.

    I guess my point was that no matter what our struggles we should look at the bigger picture and be grateful for what we have. I think by and large it’s a lot easier to not get pregnant than it is (for many women) to get pregnant. That said, I am grateful that my boys are now in school and I have some time to myself during the days. And although I didn’t have “3 under 3″ (which I’m sure must be incredibly difficult) my son with Down’s is still not toilet trained, so I do know what it is like to struggle with children, believe me! But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to when our adoption comes through and I have another little one to keep me busy all day long. My experience in RS taught me to think before I speak, because what I’m complaining about might be hurtful to someone else (like complaining about my husband in front of someone who is divorced).

  17. 17.

    I definitely see what you mean, Ali; I think your further example of complaining about one’s husband to a recently divorced woman is illustrative. It’s certainly a difficult issue.

    I think for me, personally, it depends on where on the trial curve I happen to be. When I’m in the very pits of depression, for instance, all I can see about non-depressed people is that they’re not depressed. Lucky them, I’ve thought bitterly; what do they know about real life and suffering? (Ah, depression certainly makes a person full of lovely, eminently rational sentiments, doesn’t it?) But once I move out of the pit a little, it becomes obvious that the world doesn’t bifurcate neatly into the depressed and the non-depressed, that other people are in the throes of trials I know nothing of. They might just as well envy me and my problems.

    Certainly it behooves us all to be sensitive. If someone’s just been left by a husband of twenty-five years and she’s devastated, yeah, I’d feel pretty dumb for whining that my husband doesn’t pick up his socks. On the other hand, my real trials (infertility, for example) don’t obliterate the existence of someone else’s equal and opposite trial (excessive or unwanted fertility). It’s devastating to be unable to get pregnant in one’s thirties, but that devastation doesn’t minimize the devastation of finding out you’re pregnant at fourteen. They both suck.

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