Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Today is the Apodosis, or Leavetaking of Pascha, the Feast of Feasts. It is also two days after another leavetaking in my life: The End Of The Semester I wrote longingly of three weeks ago while still in the midst of the Paschal feast. It's interesting that, the first leavetaking is one I am sad to see arrive, while the second is one I am thrilled is finally here. Such is life I guess--to everything its season.

And speaking of seasons, during the past three weeks I also transitioned into my third trimester. Fascinatingly, everything about my pregnancy thus far has been "textbook" in that my experience seems to be matching the "average" experience generally described in pregnancy books. Overall, this makes me incredibly grateful, since it means my baby is healthy and developing exactly as she should be, and it also means the oddball things I am going through are perfectly normal and to be expected. Thank God for both those things. What this also means, though, is that my third trimester is hitting me hard--way harder than I expected, no matter what the pregnancy books say. I offer as evidence the following story, which will also make it clear why posting to my blog these past few weeks was next to impossible...


At the beginning of the Spring semester (which just ended) I received the syllabus for my Old Testament Exegesis course. In it, I learned what our final term paper assignment would be. I could tell immediately that it would be intense, but I also saw our professor had great foresight and built into the semester check-in points regarding the paper, so there was no way we could reach the last two weeks of the course without having done some substantial work on the paper already. My experience with this paper was a roller-coaster, to put it mildly: I went from being pumped about the initial research I was able to get done on it, to mid-semester having a bit of a meltdown (at home, in the supportive presence of my loving husband) about feeling totally lost regarding what we were being asked to do for it. The meltdown had both physical and mental repercussions (which I soon recovered from), resulting in my actually skipping a class meeting for the sake of recovering. To be honest, it largely came down to putting way too much pressure on myself--something I tend to do anyway, but doing so while in the hormonal throes of pregnancy = a recipe for disaster. I resolved to make an appointment to meet with my professor in order to discuss the paper, and basically tell him I needed help and direction because I felt utterly lost. (Ah, humility, glad to see you again.)

That meeting, which occurred at the very end of April, went quite well. My professor helped clarify aspects of my topic that were throwing me for a loop (and thus making me feel like an idiot), and ultimately told me he wasn't worried about where I was with the paper, that I had things more under control than I thought. So, that was very encouraging, and it left me with almost three weeks to write the paper in time for its May 18th deadline. So, one week went by...and I had library-related projects that needed my attention that week. Another week went by...and our final exam was coming up and I needed to spend the bulk of my time studying for it. And suddenly it was the third week, and I had a handful of days to actually write the paper.

Now, under different circumstances than those I found myself in, I can take a set of 3-5 days and knock out a 12-page paper (double spaced), assuming I have done some research/prep work on the paper already (which I had). But remember how I noted that over the past three weeks I also transitioned into my third trimester? Here are some things this has meant for me:
  • muscles I didn't know I had are aching
  • I have to do everything--everything--slower than usual, from standing up to opening the door to getting settled prior to commencing a new task like, say, writing a paper
  • my balance is off, since I am carrying around more weight than this body ever has in its 28 years on this earth
  • sleeping at night is getting harder--for instance, I have to go to the bathroom several times each night, so I don't get a truly full night's sleep anymore
  • my hands and feet fall asleep fairly regularly, but especially when I've been sitting for long periods of time--oh, like, for example, while trying to write a paper
  • by midday I have heartburn that sticks around until the end of the day unless I take something for it (which I do--thank you Zantac)
  • the baby is kicking up a storm, which is both awesome but also a bit hard on the muscles and organs around her, especially when trying to concentrate on something other than my body--like, say, writing a paper (observing a theme here?)
Now, it's worth noting again that, thankfully, I and the baby are both healthy. So the above experiences, while challenging for a first-time pregnant mother who is used to moving through life at a pretty fast pace, are thankfully not at the level of indicating anything being seriously wrong. They are just par for the course...and though I read about most of these prior to reaching my third trimester, I was naive enough to think maybe I'd be able to duck and dodge a few of them. Ha, yea right. 

But what it does mean is, there was no way I was going to finish that paper in the 3-5 days I allotted for it. Talk about a hard pill to swallow for an over-achiever like yours truly. So my mental process last week, when those 3-5 days occurred, went something like this:

"Ok, right now I'm going to tightly outline and then write the first section of the paper using all these great sources I've collected." 
---after getting all my sources arrayed around me, and the document up on the screen in front of me--- 
"Man, I'm tired. Ok, now it's time to really begin what I said I was gonna do. Let's do this." 
---after having accomplished a bit of good work, but nowhere near even half done with the first section of the paper--- 
"Oh my goodness I can't feel my feet."
---freaking out for a moment, then standing and walking around to get the feeling back, only to realize I'm either hungry or need to use the bathroom or both, so I go and do those...20 minutes go by before I return to the computer---
"Ok, let's pick up where I left off..."
---by now I'm utterly exhausted but determined to try, only then the baby starts to kick---
"Babygirl I love you dearly and I've been waiting for you to kick like this for months, but please, can you be calm for just a little while so I can get some work done???"
---she cheerefully ignores my request---
"Sigh. I am horrible at life." [NOTE: this is where the mental process becomes irrational and clearly influenced by my hormones.]
---I proceed to stare into space, on the verge of tears because I feel like half the scholar I used to be---

By this time, it's pointless trying to get any more work done on the paper, and usually it required that my husband come get me out of my funk by assuring me this irrational conclusion I had arrived at was a lie. I'd then proceed to put all my books away and move on to something that made me feel less useless. The process then turned into a sad, hard-to-break cycle when, after rest and rejuvenation, I decided to try to get more work done on the paper, set yet another impossible-to-meet goal (because I'm stubborn and hard-headed), and commenced with the above process yet again...

Needless to say, I did not meet the May 18th deadline, but luckily my professor was very understanding and gave me until as close to the grade submission deadline as possible to get it to him. That gave me the equivalent of three more days (i.e., this past weekend). Well, I am happy to report that, at 12:30 pm on Monday, I was able to give him something he could grade in time to post my grade to the registrar's grading system. 

Thus was the Leavetaking of my Spring semester. And thank God for it.


At one point (well, on May 13th) amid all of this hubbub, though, I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mother. (N.B. Anyone who reads the above and somehow can't see that carrying my little one around right now, while keeping myself healthy and sane for her sake, is a good example of what it means to be a mother, is out of touch with reality...). And since I like to include at least one picture with each of my posts, here's a shot of me that Paul took on Mother's Day, which was the day before my third trimester began.

The third trimester (or thereabouts) doesn't look quite as hard from this angle, does it? 

First Mother's Day, 29 Weeks
Me and my babygirl :)
(who, by the way, I love more dearly than
any paper or class or grade)