Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Me and My Body (Part 1 - An Announcement)

Conversations I've had with my husband:

Me: Ugh, I have a headache.
Husband: Go take a pill.
Me: No, it's not that kind of headache.
Husband: What do you mean, it's not that kind of headache? Are there different kinds of headaches?
Me: Yeah. There are dehydration headaches, which mean I just need to drink some water. Then there are sleep deprivation headaches, which mean I need to take a nap. Sometimes there are stress or tension headaches, they usually go away with some stretching and yoga. Then there are headaches when I'm sick, like with a cold. I'll take a pill for those ones. This is a dehydration headache. I just need to drink some more water.
Husband: Well, I just get headaches and they go away with pills.


Husband: (Grunts and looks uncomfortable.)
Me: What's up?
Husband: I'm not sure. I can't tell if I'm hungry, or if I need to go have a bowel movement.
Me: What? Those are completely different feelings! How can you not tell?
Husband: I don't know! Sometimes they're kind of the same feeling. I mean, it's all down there (gesturing vaguely toward his abdomen).
Me: ??? (Utter disbelief)


Husband: I think I have the  Zika virus.
Me: Okay, why do you think that? Did you get a mosquito bite?
Husband: Well, I don't know, but I have a rash on my neck.
Me: A rash. Okay. Do you have a fever? Do you have any of the other symptoms?
Husband: No, nothing else. Just the rash.
Me: And a mosquito bite? You can't have Zika without a mosquito bite.
Husband: Well, I don't really pay attention to those things. Sometimes things just itch or feel uncomfortable, but I don't recognize if it's a mosquito bite or something else. So maybe I had a mosquito bite, I don't know.
Me: (As the girl who carefully counts and monitors every single bite, scratch, and mark, I just stare at him dumbfounded.) You don't realize when you have mosquito bites? Wow. Well, with no mosquito bite, it's probably not Zika. You should call Tim (brother-in-law who's a dermatologist) and ask him about your rash.
Husband: Okay.

(A few days later)

Me: How's your rash? Did you ever call Tim?
Husband: Oh, no. It's gone now. I don't know, I just ignored it.
Me: !!!


Rodin's The Fall of Eve (image source)

I mentioned back in April that I started the book Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, and while I could tell pretty quickly it wasn't a book I cared enough to finish, there was one particular line early on that stuck out to me. The main character, Joan, happens to be a professional ballerina, and her new husbands comments that "Joan talks about her body as though it were her primary stake in the living world, an entity capable of moods separate from her own.” It's a small line, but it was one of those moments of lighting bolt connection that sometimes happen while reading, where I was like, "Hey yeah! That's how I feel about my body too!" Like my body is some sort of separate but integral "other" part of me that has wants and needs and feelings that I tune into and listen to and try my hardest to be true to. It's definitely a relationship thing. I'm in this intense relationship with my body, and I'm always checking in and assessing and figuring out what my body is telling me so that I can make it feel better.

I kind of assumed this is how everyone interacted with there bodies, until I met my husband. Over the course of our marriage, he has continually educated me in how no, not everyone pays such close attention to their bodies. In fact, some people are pretty clueless. Maybe clueless isn't the right word. They just don't pay attention? Ignore things? Don't have the same connection? I don't know what it is, but my husband and I relate to our respective bodies very differently, and it's been interesting for me to observe and compare.

Sometimes I find my husband's lack of awareness frustrating (how can we make you feel better if you have no idea what's making you hurt in the first place?!?!?), but there have been other times when he's convinced me that my "connection" with my body is actually a bad thing, like when I'm sick, for instance. I'm such a whiny, complaining, miserable person when I'm sick. And when my husband is sick with the same thing, he's always so much more stoic about it. At first I thought it was because he was generally just a healthier person and therefore not actually getting as sick as me, but one day he pointed out that it's probably actually that he just doesn't pay attention as much as I do. He ignores, muscles through, and generally tries not to think about it. Whereas I am constantly aware that my body is sick, and I hate it, and I just want to fix it and get healthy again, so I spend a lot of time and energy thinking about it.

The thing is, I know exactly what my body is supposed to feel like at it's healthiest, and I love that feeling. These past eight months or so, since I weaned my youngest, have been the healthiest of my life, and it has felt so good. I was finally in enough control of my body and my time, and I was able to implement all of those things they tell you to do, and surprise, surprise, it actually worked. I was getting enough sleep on average, I was eating healthy, I was getting a yoga workout in about five days a week, I was drinking water, I was cutting out excess unhealthy things, and physically I just really hit a good place. I had so much energy and I felt stronger and healthier than ever before in my life. It was such a great place. It was a place that I always want to be in. I always want to feel that way, and I get very frustrated when I'm not in that place. I'm constantly listening to my body to figure out what it needs to get back to health.

Enter Thursday, April 21st. I felt it, the whole day. I felt completely off, and I knew. I just knew. So I told my husband that night, "I'm pregnant."

"How do you know?" he asked. "Isn't it too early? Are you sure?"

It was too early. It was far too early. In fact, it was week two day two, which is completely crazy too early to know. So I said, "I'm about 80% sure I'm pregnant, but I'll let you know in a week or so when I take a test." Every day for the following week, my certainty grew and grew. I knew I was pregnant. Everything I was feeling was so clearly not my normal healthy me, and much more my pregnant me.

So imagine my surprise when I took my first pregnancy test, one week and two days later, only to have it come up negative. I was shocked. How could I not be pregnant? I felt so so pregnant. Then I checked the calendar and realized, oh, yeah, technically I'm not late yet.

So I patiently waited another week. It was the Friday before Mother's Day. I took the second pregnancy test first thing in the morning, then woke my husband up with the news. Positive. "Dang it!" he said. "I mean, I'm happy we're pregnant, I was just so looking forward to making fun of you for having a hysterical pregnancy!"

He never really doubted, though. He knows me well enough to know that when I say something about my body, I'm probably right. He had already mapped out my due date and looked at insurance stuff and started making plans like it was a done deal.

This knowing my body thing has it's perks, but like I said, it has it's downsides too. Pregnancy is one of those downsides. Because I know what my body feels like at its best, and pregnancy is not that. Pregnancy is exhaustion beyond all exhaustion, and starvation hunger like I'm going to die, and such intense nausea that I don't care if I die, and wave after wave after wave of hormones coursing through me and changing everything and making me feel so utterly out of control of my body, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. There is nothing that makes it feel better (I really tried this time, I tried all sorts of diet things, cutting sugar, increasing protein, taking magnesium, whatever the internet told me, I tried it, but nothing has made any difference). 

I don't want to complain, because despite the misery, my pregnancies are healthy. Granted, I'm only about ten weeks along right now, so there's still room for tragedy to strike, but historically my wonderful, healthy body has always done exactly what it needs to do to produce large, healthy babies, and I recognize that this is wonderful and miraculous and such a blessing. But mentally, I find pregnancy so difficult precisely because I am so in tune with how my body feels. And pregnancy does not feel good. Now that I am done with school and fee of the distractions I had in my other pregnancies (work and school, although taking care of two active little boys is still quite the distraction), I find I have a lot of time on my hands to think about just how terrible I'm feeling right now. I often wonder, wouldn't it be a blessing, wouldn't it be so much easier, if I were a little bit more like my husband, a little bit more able to disconnect and ignore what is going on with my body? Would that make it easier?

But for better or for worse, this is the body I have, and this is the connection I have with it. I truly love my body, and I truly love the miracle I get to experience in growing new little life inside me. But please be patient with me now and for the next few months as I physically and mentally grapple for the third time with the most physically difficult experience of my life. During my last pregnancy, I actually experienced mild depression because of how devastating it was for me to feel so sick for so long, and I'm hoping to avoid that with this pregnancy, but I don't handle pain with much grace. It's a weakness that I'm working on.

I'm curious to know though, where do you guys fall? Are you more like me, in tune with every little thing going on in your body? Or are your more like my husband, blissfully disconnected? I wonder which is more common? Because of this pregnancy, I've been thinking a lot about bodies in general, so I've got another post coming on a slightly different aspect of this topic soon. No promises when, because you know, I'm kind of distracted right now.

P.S. Don't forget, my awesome Windstorm Trilogy giveaway is open for one more day, so go enter if you haven't already! A winner will be announced Thursday!


  1. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so happy for you! And also so sorry that you're feeling terrible.
    I think I'm more in the middle of the body awareness spectrum. Speaking of headaches, for instance, I started getting migraines somewhat regularly, but it took me several months to pin it down to a PMS migraine. Also, my tendency was to ignore the pain until it got so bad that I couldn't ignore it anymore (usually in the middle of the night), but my husband pointed out that if I would just take 3 Ibuprofen as soon it started coming on, it would never get to that awful stage. Oh. That works too--but I have to make a conscious effort to do it! I still catch myself ignoring it.
    I am amazed that you knew you were pregnant so early. My body seems to respond to the slightest hint that I wish I was pregnant, by giving me false symptoms and pushing my cycle out by a week or two. So I don't really trust it in that regard.

    Take care!

    1. Thanks! Sorry to hear about the migraines. I've had one once in my life, and they are terrible (no idea why just once, but I seriously hope I never have one again), And yeah, being able to tell that early on the pregnancy thing is unusual even for me. With my other two pregnancies, my symptoms were much closer to PMS symptoms, so I was never sure if I was pregnant or just about to start. But like I said, my body's been in such a healthy place recently that I could just feel things were different this time, and it wasn't my normal PMS. Still, sometimes I think there is a fine line between "being in tune with my body" and being a total hypochondriac. :)

  2. When I saw the title of this post, I immediately thought, "Could this be a pregnancy announcement?" And then about halfway through, I was like, "No, I guess not," and then BAM, yes it was! Congratulations!!! I'm so excited and happy for you, and I hope you're able to get to, if not a perfect, at least a good place mentally and physically so that it's not nine months of total misery.

    1. Well, you knew it was coming. And thanks, I'm projecting that somewhere in August I might start feeling like a more normal human, so, let's jut get this summer over with!

  3. Congratulations! I'm more on your end of the spectrum, although Fred is the bigger complainer out of the two of us when he is sick. (Watch "Man Cold" on YouTube for an accurate depiction.) With Molly I knew I was pregnant before I ever took a test and I was pretty sure she was a girl because my body felt so much different than I did with Oliver. I'm sorry you get so sick during pregnancy! Maybe it will be a girl and you won't be as sick.

  4. I am certainly much more like your husband (maybe genetics plays a role in that) I totally understand his confusion with bowel movements and hunger, especially since I've been in college and my eating habits can be sporadic. I also feel the same way he does about headaches, although I really don't get headaches or sick very often. I don't even have a bottle of ibuprofen in my apartment. Maybe I get sicker more than I think and it's just the lack of connection with my body. But I consider myself really healthy--walking and biking everywhere everyday and playing sports on almost a nightly basis (although I'm sure my diet could improve...)