The Divine Comedy

I’ve added a new category after a friend suggested that I should keep a pregnancy diary for recording all the weird bits of this strange transformation of body and mind. I’ve already missed providing you with the gory details of how many times I was sick, what made me sick and so on, (lucky reader!) so instead, perhaps I can share with you my over all description of the journey.

It’s what I like to call: Angela’s Divine Comedy – a first pregnancy

Although pregnancy is sectioned up into three trimesters known as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, I like to be a little more descriptive in my naming. If you are familiar with Dante’s epic poem, ‘The Divine Comedy’ you’ll know that it is composed of three parts – Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise). I liken this experience to the three trimesters of pregnancy. Let me explain:

Inferno – Hell (1st trimester)

The shock of the news so early puts you in the first circle of hell, a state of limbo. Am I pregnant or aren’t I? The shock was particularly evident for me as my plan of “becoming a mother in my 30s” was realised 3 days after I turned 30.

Shortly after, “the signs” start to become apparent. Lustful food cravings for roast chickens and evil fried foods take you into the second circle of hell – gluttony – and the third circle – revenge where you eat your husbands food portions to get back at him for all those times he offered to “share” your dessert and then ate the biggest portion.

You start to push your great weight onto others, bouncing off your husband’s beer belly when hugging. You have entered the Fourth Circle of hell. Here you start to want for useless baby paraphernalia and stare eagerly at personal Doppler and other prenatal devices where you can email the sound of your foetus’ heart to your friends. The mere shreds of common sense that remain are the only thing that stop you spending money.

The fifth circle now – hell of the slothful, – you lie on the settee, dozing in and out of what feels like an eternal sleep, waking only to press buttons on the tv remote control or consume more roast chicken.

Next, you get a hot at night and feel trapped in flames, Dante’s sixth circle of hell becomes a searing reality. You sweat – and not like a sexy model – like a cow in calf.

The seventh circle, the hunger peaks and you turn violent if anyone tries to intercept your passage to food sources. For the first time in your life you may find yourself grabbing for the last edible item in a shared food situation, where previously you would have politely left the last morsel.

The eighth circle, you feel you belong here along with the fraudulent as you sip water from beer bottles and make excuses for your growing belly and frequent toilet trips. You skulk around under baggy shirts and hide under your desk so that you will not be spotted.

Finally, the ninth circle of hell, bodily chaos ensues as freezing jelly is rubbed onto your belly and your bump is examined before hopefully getting the all clear to make the transition into the second phase – purgatory. You no longer keep secrets and finally can let your belly hang out.

Purgatory (2nd trimester)

Congratulations, you have survived the depths of hell and now face Mount Purgatory which is literally growing where your flat belly used to be. You start becoming attracted to overly sentimental music and take advice on listening to Mozart to increase your baby’s intellectual power. It makes sense.

You reach the gate of purgatory and meet your first midwife, an angel who acknowledges that your bump is becoming a mountain and people start to label you with a ‘P’ for pregnant. You are told not to look back and that the purgatory will be better than hell. The sickness will soon stop.

You find that purgatory purges you of many of the sins of hell:

1. Carrying your bump teaches you not to be too proud and start to wear anything at all that is comfortable, whether stylish or not.

2. You stop rebelling against maternity clothing stores and enter one, rejoicing in the feeling of elasticated waists.

3. Your wrath is purged as you no longer glare at smokers, but avoid pubs altogether because you can’t even drink beer.

4. You purge your slothfulness as your energy returns and you find that you can still almost run in a girlie pregnant way.

5. Avarice and lust is purged as the cravings cease and you wander into the gardens of earthly delights and pick fruits instead of burgers.

But yet – purgatory brings new lessons:

1. Your pelvis starts to move, not in an Elvis way, but it clicks in a wrong sort of way

2. You get fat ankles and your wrists decide that carpal tunnel syndrome is the best way for you to enjoy and appreciate your pregnancy

3. Brain cells dissipate entirely. Simple understandings like the difference between traveling clockwise and anticlockwise elude you; making even the tiniest decisions become epic choices.

4. The most intellectual stimulation you can manage after work is deducing whether the motion in your belly is wind or baby movement.

As I’m still in purgatory, you’ll have to read subsequent posts to find out what happens next on the journey towards the promise of the third phase – paradiso. It does exist, it does!

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