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On Love and Exhaustion

A soon-to-be mother reflects on her experience of the anxiety and love surrounding pregnancy

By Featured, Literature, Multimedia, Photo Essay

It’s like a thousand random Instagram explore thumbnails put into a single collage. Love is what clears the collage and helps me focus on one image, one person, one moment per time.

This is one of my latest Ultrasound images. At this point it’s hard to get a clear full picture of the baby in the womb, but there are detailed images like this one. The wave here shows a steady heart beat pattern of the baby. I love it so much because it reminds me of the ocean and fluidity of life.

When I found out I was having a baby, I was certain that deferring school was the best option for me. It doesn’t sound so complicated: You’re in your final year of grad school, just pause, have the baby and then get back to completing your program. Simple right? Now, throw in a little “International Student on F-1 visa”, “unemployed”, and a dash of “without family support”. Add, “married to an F-1 visa student in Michigan” into the mix and then, it doesn’t look so simple.

Images from my ongoing Self Portrait Series on my journey to being a Mum. I’ve had to accept my new look but it still surprises me; the things my body can do to accommodate a new human and I can’t do much about it.

To be honest I thought it would be worse. You’ve heard those pregnancy stories that leave you scarred for life? Well for me, it’s not been anything that dramatic. However, there’s been some changes that are uncomfortable. I won’t bore you with the deep stuff. Shallow things like snoring and a swollen face make me feel a little insecure. Then there’s the worrisome things like the uncertainties of unemployment, thesis project, finances, visa status, life after F1 visa, I could go on and on.

My dearest Fidelis Joseph (MFA Painting 2023, Cranbrook Arts Academy MI), working on his Thesis Project during his school’s holiday season. He has visited 99% of my doctors appointments here in Chicago. He’s doing his best to be here when the baby comes and at the same time deliver on his school project for graduation in May. Facetime is our favorite virtual room when we’re away, we just stay on the call and co-exist.

I think I’m like the average “almost 30” youth of today. We feel really young, you know? No Aunty or Uncle vibes yet. With the baby on the way, my brain is working overtime now to answer the question: how does a baby raise a baby? Because there’s going to be two kids in the building when the newborn comes and I’m the other kid. That’s how it feels, at least for now.

Self- Portrait; working out routinely to stay fit for the delivery day.

The collateral beauty of it all appears every now and then and it keeps me going. I have always said that in your down times, the decisions that are going to save you are the decisions you made in your good times. We may not always make the best choices every time but it’s really good to choose a system that keeps you in check so on a bad day, when you’re at your lowest, most confused, anxious and afraid, those systems lift you up.

Self Portrait at home. I try to keep a clear space in my bedroom, which helps me stay collected.

For me, it’s been Faith and Community. The best miracles are found in people: Love, warmth, compassion, kindness, laughter, a word of advice. These are things that make life worth living, encourage you to love and forgive yourself and teach you to do likewise to others. I will graduate soon, and the baby arrives just about the time spring semester resumes. Yes, I will get tired and have days when I’m flat out exhausted, but it’s okay, because for every unpleasant circumstance there’s a lot more goodness shining a  light to  help me figure a way forward. That goodness is the love we find in each other. 

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