London, May 8

Kelsey Breseman
3 min readMay 23, 2024

By the time my degree program winds to an ignominious close (7 of 20 on my last final), I am uncertain which of my symptoms to attribute to pregnancy, and which are psychosomatic from the stress; I wasn't pregnant last semester, but I'd find myself nauseous with blinding headaches by the end of the day. What I know for sure is that the end of April feels fabled, impossible in its arrival. The first trimester ends at the same time as my classes do, and suddenly too, London lifts from wet chill to warm sunshine.

Change, as my therapist once told me, is hard even if it's good change. I spend my first day of freedom feeling glum and at a loss, vaguely guilty over phantom homework. I don't remember, once again, what I actually like. But I have a watercolor set, a stack of virtual books, an embroidery project. I like food again, tentatively. I make quiche. I walk in the park.

This pregnancy is incredibly wanted, and I have been preparing for years. But somehow I never expected the physical discomforts, not really. I used to get car sick a lot; I figured I'd wake up, puke, and move on. I'm strong, and tough, but pregnancy turns out to be disarmingly hard.

I don't mind having to throw up, but constant aversion to food means you're not sure why exactly your head hurts and you're exhausted. It goes on for weeks, and even the few reliable snacks become disgusting. The couch is both friend and enemy: rest is needed, but eventually you have to make yourself move, get water, find snacks. By the time Robert comes home in the evenings, I sprawl there, hungry and nauseous. At least I no longer have to crawl from the couch to the desk and work some algorithm for class.

When I do feel better, I somehow expect linear progress. I'm 13 weeks now, and baby is formed, mostly. There's a placenta of the same size: two citrus fruits, or some such saccharine metaphor. As my belly still seems mostly flat, they and the amniotic ephemera are simply displacing every organ and intestine that once fully used that space. I can't pee normally anymore, but as of this week, baby can.

Don't worry, the Internet has informed me, my abs are going to split right down the middle to make extra space. Will I then stop feeling uncomfortably full (while also hungry)? Time will tell.

All of this internal work feels, of course, invisible. It doesn't engage my hands or brain. So I walk in the park, and sometimes it's fine, and sometimes I suddenly crash and have to drag myself home. I'm going bouldering still: it's fine as long as I never fall. So I'm doing good-grip routes slowly, climbing all the way down. I've lost a lot of trust in my capacity to go distance: a two hour transit ride to a garden felt like a very bold risk. I bring a book so I can lay down when I'm out.

In the evening, I cooked myself a meal. For once, I still wanted it by the time it was ready, and it wasn't too much, and after I ate it, I felt full.

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