It’s winter, and I’m pregnant. Only five weeks left to go, but they’re still a whole five weeks.
These are my two least favorite seasons in the entire world. I shouldn’t have to explain why winter gets me in a funk, but here you go anyway: IT’S FREEZING. And for pregnancy: IT’S UTTER , ALL-CONSUMING EXHAUSTION.
Nobody told me about pregnancy exhaustion. You hear about the morning sickness — a bane that passed quickly for both my pregnancies — but not the exhaustion.
Surprise: It’s a whole thing.
I was chatting about it with my sister a trimester go, the trimester where your body’s supposed to hit an energy spike. Am I exaggerating? I wanted to know. Am I just a wimp? Is it possible that pregnancy is really this tiring?
Bailey, she said. I would take the sleep deprivation of having a newborn over pregnancy exhaustion anytime.
And she had two under two at the time. She knew a thing or two about tired.
I, like all women, possess the unique talent of being completely incapable of recognizing just how exhausted and burnt out I am. I err on the side of guilt and comparison. Other women get through it — with more children, tougher pregnancies, and cleaner houses! Slog it out, girlfriend.
And I do, usually, but I’ve been slogging more slowly lately, checking behind my shoulder to see who’s policing my pace and my output. Is anybody? And if they are, are they right to do so?
I just want to sleep. Forever. Or at the very least lie horizontally on a comfy couch with my two gigantic pillows and the cozy red throw.
But I haven’t been letting myself, because I’ve got a toddler. And I’ve got guilt about all the things I should be doing with him and for him. Mainly, I’ve got major guilt about not getting him outside everyday.
A couple winters ago, I got sucked into the wonderful world of nature-based play. We went outside almost every day, rain or shine, for two winters. I rhapsodized about all the fun we were having splashing in slush puddles and running around in freezing rain and hauling a sled in a real, actual blizzard (okay, that wasn’t such a fun time at all). I even started my own hashtag for all our nature adventure photos: #rainorshine365.
This winter, I was having none of it.
I remember sitting on the front porch, already too pregnant and tired to stand on two feet, and feeling the shift in the weather. There was this melodramatic, WINTER IS COMING moment, and there was my feeble, Nope, and then winter unleashed itself halfway through fall.
Not here for this.
Neither was my toddler. I’d take the ten minutes to bundle us both up, and I’d hunch on the porch, unmoving, and he’d sit on his tricycle, staring into space, and then he’d echo my heart’s cry of, “In! In!” Thank goodness. Whenever I asked him if he wanted to play outside, he’d say no. Praise Jesus.
It took me a good long time to let go of my #rainorshine365 goal this winter. Just today we won’t go out, I reasoned. Okay, just on days below 20 degrees we won’t go out. Just on gray dreary days we won’t go. Just on weekends we’ll get out, if the weather is nice.
But here I am, on a beautiful, sunshiney holiday day, temps in the 30’s, fresh white snow on the ground, and we are not outside.
The reason for this severe shift from hippy nature mama to couch potato is obviously because I am a wimpy, selfish, sad excuse of a mother. That’s the “fact” I struggle against daily.
I don’t why it’s so difficult for me to say, “Hey, I’m five weeks away from giving birth. I’m huge. I’m tired. I’m getting ready to recede into post-partum hibernation anyway. This is just a season. My spring is coming, but right now it’s winter. So curl up on that couch and nap away.”
Actually, I do know why it’s difficult for me to say that. It’s because our culture is not a seasonal culture. It didn’t teach me to connect with, much less honor, the ebb and flow of nature — of my body, of the day and night, of the four seasons. I didn’t run with the seasons — I honed an internal drive to motor a linear path through every. single. obstacle. Tiredness? Sickness? That time of month? Just temptations for laziness.
Life is about balance, I thought. It’s about habit. You figure out the middle ground between vice and virtue and carry it with you all day, every day, or you are a terrible failure of a human being.
My feasting was marked with moderation. My resting was marred with work. The seasons of my life and of nature all bled together into one overwhelming, never-ending thing to be overcome. The slog.
Fortunately, being a short-lived wildschooler put me in contact with a whole community of nature lovers and cold dwellers who encouraged living with and listening to the seasons.
Winter is not a season for any sort of plowing ahead. It’s a resting season. Nothing grows. Nothing is produced. It’s not the time for harvest or output or even getting things ready. Everything is dead, sleeping, waiting for resurrection. It’s a time for enjoying the abundance of what we have and what we’ve worked for. It’s a time for conserving resources, energy, light, and warmth, huddling closer to share them, curling in on ourselves to maintain them.
And here’s the thing: spring always comes. But first, winter. Always. Our ecosystem depends on it.
Pregnancy is my winter season — especially in winter. (I’ve only ever had winter babies.) I can’t motor through anymore. I don’t have much to give. Shutting the doors. Settling down. Curling up. Snuggling close. Sleeping.
I’m not giving up. I’m not failing. I’m hibernating.
This winter pregnancy, I’m trying to follow the rhythm of my body, the rhythm of nature, the rhythm of the life within me, and the rhythm of the seasons I’m in — seasons that might not be my personal favorites, but seasons that are critical for producing life.