I was completely unprepared for the reality of pregnancy over the age of 40. I thought I knew pregnant. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing, as I’ve done it a few times.
I was pregnant throughout my 20s, and once I’d clawed my way past the horrific vomiting of the first trimester, growing babies didn’t take that big of a toll on my body. I’d bounce my way through the second and third trimesters, glowing my way to the new baby’s arrival.
In my 30s, I was known to forget that I was pregnant at all until I’d spot a reflection of my ever-growing profile in mirrors or windows as I’d glide past. I was too busy with raising children to be slowed down by the bump of pregnancy.
As I stared in stunned resignation at the positive test this summer, I had no reason to think that being pregnant in a 40-ish body would be any different than the good health and bounding energy that I’d enjoyed in the past. In fact, I went into this pregnancy in better shape than I’d been in my adult life. This wasn’t going to change much until I held the little darling in my arms.
And then reality smacked me in the face and sent me crawling for my pillow.
I’ve never felt fatigue like this ever in my life. I sleep all night just to wake up yawning and in need of a serious nap. There are days when it takes every ounce of my energy reserves to get dressed and stagger to the couch. I haven’t slept this much since I was a teenager knocking out 14 hours without much effort.
And I’m still barely able to force my eyes to stay open.
When I look blearily at the to-do list on the whiteboard in my office space, I would laugh if it didn’t take so much effort. There’s no way I can do all that. Not in one day.
The truth I’ve come to grudgingly accept is that I’m only good for one thing a day. I can do the laundry or teach the children or go to the grocery store or workout at the gym. That’s it. I can only do one. Attempting to do anything more will leave me near comatose with exhaustion as I struggle to recover the next day.
I had hoped this was a first trimester only thing, but as I make my way into the 14th week, I’m beginning to fear that it isn’t. I’m looking down the barrel of 26 more weeks of not being close to doing all of the tasks I normally manage with ease. I would normally panic at that thought, but who has the energy for that kind of nonsense?
I mentioned my sluggishness to my OB, and he knowingly said “You’re over 40 and pregnant. It’s a whole new world.”
“It will fade now that I’m past 13 weeks, right?” I asked hopefully.
“You tell yourself whatever it takes to get you through the day,” he said with an amused smirk, “I love optimism in my patients.”
Somehow that sounds like no.
photo credit: By Liz Lawley (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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