Even though I didn’t have a “perfectly blissful” pregnancy (does anyone?) I have to tell you, I love being pregnant!
I can’t say I ever really got “the glow,” although I definitely got myself some hormonal acne. Nevertheless, I loved it. The anticipation, the conversation, the nesting. It became my jam and forever changed the direction of my wellness styling practice.
There was one part of pregnancy, however, which I didn’t share publicly that I didn’t enjoy…and that was being pregnant...in Montreal.
It’s true, Montreal is a pretty bilingual city, and so it’s easy to get by with just English in most places. Sadly, I had a few very rude (and rather discriminatory) experiences for not speaking French when we first moved here that made me feel like an outsider for a long time (and often even still).
Being pregnant made the experience that much harder.
There were the countless voicemail messages for appointments always left only in French. I’d have to get Aaron to listen just so I could figure out what number to call back, and then try to explain I wasn’t exactly sure who or what I was calling for. I’d usually get transferred five times before somebody accidentally hung up on me or I’d be prompted to a leave a voicemail, which no one would ever return.
Then there was the hospital tour and prenatal classes, of which all the English ones were full (they only offer a small handful).
Or the frustrating statistic that 24% of Quebec women want a midwife, while only 2% will be able to get one. Hence the whole widespread “underground midwives” movement that started (look it up, it’s a real thing).
The climax of my anxiety happened when we found out about Owen’s kidney issue (he was born with one multi-cystic kidney, not life-threatening but still scary for a new mama) and the Doctors spoke to each other in French about Owen, right in front of me. The only word I could manage to translate was “severe.” Because, well, it’s the same word in English. That’s one way to worry a first-time mama.
My world felt like it was spinning. Walking into my first ultrasound with the naivety that everything would be fine and there was no reason to feel anything but excitement. Back then I didn’t know the sting of pain that pregnancy can hold. I hadn’t had friends share their stories of miscarriage or all the things that almost went wrong, even though in the end they delivered a healthy baby. Pregnancy is beautiful, but it can also be scary.
Every ultrasound after that I would get light headed and they’d have to stop, get me to lie down on my side with a cool cloth over my forehead so I wouldn’t black out. By the last appointment I finally got smart and brought calming essential oils to keep me from fainting. There I was that crazy oily mama smelling her wrists (they had Peace & Calming and Stress Away on them) so she wouldn’t black out.
And it did the trick, I never blacked out again. But the anxiety I experienced throughout pregnancy and right up to delivery (the nurse on duty when I arrived didn’t speak any English) remained.
And so I have to confess, that after the surprise and that familiar tingle of delight when I saw the positive pregnancy test, it was soon heavily mixed with anxiety.
For several months, starting after Owen turned one, the inevitable, “So….when are you having another one?” question arose, and my answer was always the same, “I’d be ready to be pregnant again, but I’m NOT ready to be pregnant in Quebec.”
I felt an intense surge of mixed emotions – I was excited for another baby, after all I had just weaned Owen and was beginning to feel those common longings to snuggle a newborn. But I wasn’t ready for the appointments, the voicemails, the nurses, the classes - in French.
Thankfully after my restless mind settled down as something else came to mind.
A vivid memory of a few weeks before, when I was just a week pregnant (and of course didn’t know it yet) and the strangest thing happened. While I was visiting Vancouver, driving around on a gorgeous sunshiny day, left to my thoughts while Owen took a nap in the backseat, I knew I was pregnant; I just felt it. I had just a touch of nauseousness that morning (I’m not even sure you can have symptoms that fast) but I just knew. As I was driving I whispered to myself and to God, “I’m pregnant…Wow. I just feel it, I’m pregnant….and I think it’s a girl.”
I can’t explain this knowing feeling or the peace that God gave me as I prayed about what it would really mean if I was pregnant right now; if I was pregnant not at all in my timing. Because that’s the thing, this was not my timing. This is not “what we planned.” We were more than relaxed to wait another year.
If I didn’t have the trust in God that I have, the belief that He is in control and this doesn’t surprise Him in the least bit, I would probably still be full of anxiety. But I know He planned this little life, and He planned for it to happen now.
The coolest part is, He had an acquaintance of mine (a native Quebecer) offer to come with me to my ultrasound to translate if I ever needed, a few weeks before she even knew I was pregnant! It was the sweetest reminder just how much my Creator loves to provide and take care.
So here I am, still occasionally frustrated by language and culture, but trusting that my God planned and knew every day of this little one’s life and He chose, for whatever reason, for it to be starting inside of me now. I couldn’t be more in awe to watch the rest of her/his (we’ll find out in a few weeks!) days unfold and to be grateful for this little life growing inside of me.