I was talking to a friend the other day when I felt a kick. Not like the “fluttery” sensations What to Expect had prepared me for at this stage–the ones I’ve been convincing myself I’ve been feeling over the past few weeks–but something much more substantial. Like a little foot pushing on the inside of my uterus kind of substantial. “AH!” I told her, “I think I just felt a serious kick!” She got excited and then exclaimed that I couldn’t go making her cry at work. Cry? I thought. That hadn’t even crossed my mind.
In fact, I haven’t cried since the day we found out we were expecting a child. Trust me, I am not usually the Iron Woman–many an episode of Grey’s Anatomy have embarrassingly turned me into an emotional waterfall. But being pregnant has not brought forth the flow of feelings I would have expected. It just… doesn’t feel that real yet, somehow.
At the beginning I told myself that it obviously didn’t feel real because I couldn’t see or feel any evidence. I looked the same, felt more or less the same, save the occasional bout of morning sickness, and even my sleep habits didn’t need to change very much (ah, the joys of working from home!). Just about the only differences were my lowered caffeine intake and sad parting of ways with my beloved red wine. At our first doctor’s appointment, we saw a tiny speck of a creature on the ultrasound screen, and my husband came up next to me and grasped my hand in a burst of emotion. I looked at the screen and just wasn’t able to connect it to the inside of my body or the creation of a new human being that I knew it logically signified. I felt no burst of emotion, no “aha” moment where my mind and soul were suddenly in sync and aware of my new state of being.
Now that my belly has grown noticeably rounder, I’m starting to feel all kinds of strange sensations from deep within. I’ve been expecting that “aha” to descend upon me any second. But it hasn’t, and I’m still feeling pretty much the same as before.
There’s a bit of guilt that comes along with this inability to connect emotionally to the pregnancy. My husband seems to feel much more connected than me, and has since the beginning. My friends have at times been more excited by what’s happening in my body than I have. I wonder if maybe it’s easier to feel that pregnancy is real when you are not always waiting for something new to happen to your body?
I also wonder if part of the disconnect is caused by the strange absence of Jewish ritual surrounding pregnancy. I’m on the more observant end of the Jewish spectrum, so a good chunk of my life revolves around Jewish traditions and rituals of one kind or another. Before I got pregnant, I went to the mikvah (ritual bath) and said a special prayer, asking God for righteous and healthy children. That was an emotional moment, standing there in the water and feeling truly vulnerable, my fate completely out of my hands, with no idea whether I would be lucky enough to conceive. And I have no doubt that God willing, when I go through labor and bring a child into this world, I will cry at the simchat bat or brit. But this middle territory is strange. The multitude of superstitions and fear of the “ayin hara” (evil eye) seem to have kept us from establishing positive Jewish pregnancy rituals over the thousands of years of our history.
It’s not that I’m logically disconnected from my pregnancy or my future child. This was completely a choice, and I am looking forward to being a parent with every ounce of my being. I’m just missing that moment where it all feels real.
So I’m turning to seasoned moms for advice on this one. When did it start to feel “real” for you?