You may have heard of people having sympathy pains when their partners are pregnant? The reverse is also true… pregnant women can experience sympathy pains for others too!
This may seem like a gloomy post as it contrasts a happy and exciting life event (birth of a baby) with something sad and depressing (sickness and old age). However I think it’s important we never lose our ability to feel empathy towards others and keep our own experiences in perspective.
Every woman’s pregnancy is different. Some breeze through to their due date, barely changing their lifestyle while others need to take things day-by-day, or even hour-by-hour. No matter which end of the spectrum you may be at, there are some common experiences and “ailments” that can make us reflect on what it must be like for people that are suffering from long-term illnesses. Here are some of those things I have noticed throughout this particular pregnancy. I’m thankful these are all temporary conditions, and aware of the fact that many elderly and sick people are not so lucky.
1) Foreign element growing inside you
When pregnancy first commences, the body may treat it like a possible infection and release white blood cells to “attack”. This is similar to when a person gets sick, whether it be a cold or something more acute or severe.
Once the embryo attaches itself to the womb, then the whole development process takes over and the body has no say in the matter! They say there are only a few times in your life when blood cell formation (Hemopoiesis) is elevated to high levels: during pregnancy and during infancy to help development.
The other time is when an awful disease like cancer takes over and stimulates blood vessel growth in one’s body.
2) Change in diet
Whether you have insane cravings, are unable to stomach certain foods, or eat anything at all, pregnancy sure changes what you put in your mouth! Some people may be unable to digest certain foods while others go on an eating frenzy to satisfy the growing fetus. Whatever the situation, everyone will tell you to eat as much as you want and enjoy it (if you can).
For those who are unable to hold their food down, think of the people out there who can no longer enjoy food for some reason or another, and be thankful that this too, shall pass.
3) Leaving it in the hands of God
For somebody who likes to plan ahead, not knowing when this baby will be coming and how, is difficult to accept. Will she be a natural delivery (with drugs, of course!) or will it be via Caesarean. Will she be healthy, a good birth weight? Will she be too big or too small? Will she be early, on time or late? Even the doctors can’t predict and we just have to let go and leave it up to the Higher Power.
Similarly, somebody who has reached a ripe old age may be thinking similar things, as to when they will meet their Maker. In both situations, you need to have faith that the time will come and it will be the right time.
In the case of baby, she will be in our arms soon enough and all that waiting will be worth it! At least we can look forward and hope for a happy ending.
4) Decreased mobility
Once my belly started touching the steering wheel of the car, I realized I was becoming house-bound and dependent on hubby to drive me around to appointments and errands, etc. As my belly continues to grow, I find that getting up from a lying or seated position is increasingly difficult. So does manoeuvring the belly around the kitchen sink and stove, and dealing with breathlessness when working around the house. Bending down to pick up the umpteen things I now drop through my newly swollen and fat fingers on a daily basis? That’s what the kids are for.
For our aging population, this becomes a daily reality. Many are not so lucky to have a friend or family member to drive them around, let alone four year olds who will help pull them out of bed or “massage” their swollen feet. Many lonely seniors don’t even have someone check in with them daily to see how they are doing or if they need help.
5) Your body will never be the same
This is one aspect which isn’t temporary and will likely never completely go away except for an extremely lucky few (and those who hit the gym daily). Once this baby comes out, I will be carrying around “leftovers” from the pregnancy for a while to come, and will likely get questions on if I’m expecting again, just like what happened after the twins were born. This time around, I’m hoping to have time to exercise and walk most of it off. Our bodies go through such a dramatic ordeal (many of the older generation equate childbirth as coming close to death for the mother) that recovery is long and slow. If something took close to 10 months to develop, it will take as long to unravel.
Either way, as we naturally age, our bodies are never the same. For those with long-term illnesses who manage to recover, they are never the same again either.
6) Mommy/Baby Brain
We’ve all heard of mommy brain and baby brain. It’s a fact that pregnant women function with slightly less than 100% of their normal brain function, and are often forgetful. That’s only supposed to last for the first year after baby is born, but I’m still waiting for it to go away five years later! Well I guess we might as well get used to it because that’s another thing which comes as we grow older!
The only thing constant in life is change. As long as we acknowledge that and try to accept or embrace it, we will not be disappointed.