Right now, it’s 5:36AM. The birds outside have already started to converse as the sun begins to peek its head onto our porch and I’m still awake on the couch. My husband and I returned from China Wednesday night and the jet lag continues to plague us – not that we’ve really tried to push through it. These odd awake hours have given me time to reflect on the last month and a half that I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging.
First – Morning sickness was not a joke. While I did not post about it while enduring those three months as we were waiting to announce the pregnancy, I spent the better half of that time curled up around the commode. The other half was looking either jealously or disdainfully at meals and talking to my belly asking our son why he didn’t want me to eat. There were times when I stopped mid-instruction and bursted out of my classroom to the restroom to upchuck classic potato chips and a packet of Heinz ketchup.But – whoever began calling it “morning” sickness lied like a dog. It’s all day sickness. It doesn’t discriminate. It also didn’t help when people would remark they never had morning sickness as I ironically hurled my meals into a blue wedding gift bag with the words “Happily Ever After” on the front in our car on the way to church. We often want to relate to someone who has experienced the same or worse than us and overcame it rather than have remarks from others who have never experienced our situation. I will say, however, the amount of support I received from family and friends during those first three months were essential. Both of our moms tried to find something I could keep down and my husbands was on call 24 hours a day for pickle runs, McDonald’s trips (the only thing I could really eat), and back rubbing/hair holding around my porcelain friend.
Second – Being pregnant has made me more compassionate for women with babies on planes. While in China with four students, a chaperone, my husband, and a larger gaggle of 44 travelers, I struggled to keep up and often was very glad to have either my husband slowing his strides on the Great Wall or some of the older teachers walk with me when I couldn’t keep the pace. I took breaks frequently and busted out my ziplock bag of the dill pickle I packed from my suitcase to settle my tummy. On the internal flights from Beijing to Xi’an and Xi’an to Shanghai as part of our tour, I was given a blanket and was able to skip the metal scanners during security for the baby. It was almost as if I was a VIP, well – as VIP as you can get on an economy ticket. I received similar sympathetic treatment and glances when we took the 14 hour plane ride back as I was invited to skip restroom lines by strangers and blocked aisles while stretching and cradling my growing son in my tummy.
However, a few aisles ahead and 4 1/2 months into my future, were two women with babies. I heard the groans from the people sitting around me and side remarks from the student travelers about the shrieking infants. They competed for wailing time for two hours as our bodies told everyone on board that it was 3AM. For the first time instead of feeling dread and disappointment and peeking over chairs to see which child was upset, I felt sympathy. I cocked my head into a sleeping position as if the sounds were not piercing, closed my eyes – silently praying for both the infants and the mothers – and gripped my husband’s forearm. Both of us knew that would be us – the unwelcomed guests on flights and in DMV waiting rooms. At the end of the flight, sighs of relief erupted from people around me about how they were glad to get off the flight with the babies and for the first time I found myself defending the children. “Their ears were probably popping” – “They were probably scared and being on a plane is new” – “Their mom are more exhausted than any of us”- “If that were me, I wouldn’t want anyone staring at me” – “That was once you as a baby”. I couldn’t help but think that the sincere concern strangers were giving me as a pregnant woman would soon transform into the complaints filling the air.
I cannot say I wasn’t exhausted by the infants but being pregnant and knowing I was looking at our near future gave me a different perspective.Sometimes compassion comes from something innate – other times it is birthed from your own situation and coming into contact with the past, present, or future of it staring you in the face.