It was going to be my final fall semester. Unlike the majority of the Southern population, I was completing my bachelor’s degree exactly four years after graduating from high school. This was something I have always been silently proud of. I meticulously planned and evaluated my schedule for eight semesters. I took on 18-credit courseloads and made it out unscathed. I even considered re-taking classes to perfect my grade point average. I was over-prepared.
Despite my borderline obsessive-compulsive behavior, it was made very clear to me that I cannot plan everything in life. It would not be the last time I pulled into the parking lot on the last Monday of August, and I would be taking a semester off come January.
Apparently, organized, in-control, prepared people can get pregnant just like the rest of the female population. That little-known fact rocked my detail-oriented world.
I entered Morrill Hall 20 weeks pregnant. Though, I tried my best to conceal the small bump that could be mistaken for a beer gut. The thought that someone could mistake the then one-pound baby for a weekend of kegs and fast food was enough to make my heart race. I certainly had not tasted a beer in months and the thought made my mouth salivate in disgust.
I chose to wrap this newly-formed extension of my lower stomach in lots of material. Ruffles, pleats and multiple layers were my new friends. I didn’t want to tell anyone just yet. I liked the in-control façade I had maintained for the past three years.
Then, exhaustion began to set in.
People that knew I was pregnant would constantly offer me the same line of advice after hearing about my hectic schedule: “Oh, you’ll be fine. You’re young. You’re in shape. You’re healthy.” I even thought, at least for a week or two, that they were right.
After realizing that the well-intentioned advice was crap and I was actually more human than I’d like to believe, I embraced the words, “I’m pregnant.” I had a blurt syndrome of sorts. I began telling anyone and everyone that didn’t already know. I no longer wished to hide what I couldn’t change.
That 500-page handbook for pregnant women I loathed did say I would accept the reality of pregnancy in month five.
I didn’t have a choice really. Even if I chose to ignore that I was plus one, I could not ignore the back pain, bleeding gums, heartburn and other disgusting symptoms I will not go further into.
I couldn’t help but wonder if there was one positive pregnancy symptom. I mean, women choose to do this more than once? They choose to give up hot baths, caffeine and sleep? It costs the average middle-income American family $222,360 to raise a child from birth to 18. Want-to-be-parents actually want to be parents after viewing this number?
Then, at about halfway through the Daily Show one night in late September I realized why people continue to perpetuate the species.
Much like the feeling of free falling or the nervous excitement before a first kiss, I felt butterflies.
I was clearly laying down on top of a mountain of pillows and not falling to my death and there was no one else in the room for me to be kissing. I waited. It happened again. And then again.
The little boy that was giving me heartburn and back pain was moving. And I could actually feel it, for the first time.
I didn’t fall asleep that night. I laid in bed, my eyes filled with water and my heart ready to burst, silently realizing that this was the most magical thing to ever happen to me. This was why people do it.