Before I got pregnant, I thought, “I am going to love every SECOND of being pregnant. No matter what.” And in a certain way that’s true–I wouldn’t trade being pregnant, or choose not to be pregnant, for anything. It’s been my dream for so long, and now that it’s here, I’m ridiculously thankful. I’m thankful to be able to carry this child and deliver him. But have I truly loved every second?
For a while, I was ashamed that my answer to this question was no. I thought that I was a bad mother for feeling physically uncomfortable sometimes, or for feeling sad (not about the pregnancy, but because my hormones went wackadoodle). I thought that if I didn’t tell everyone, “Oh, every moment of this pregnancy is the best thing ever!” that they would judge me and think poorly of me.
And some people have done just that. When I’ve talked about wanting to get fit after the baby, I’ve been told I’m thinking about things completely wrong. When I’ve talked about how I have pain in my sacroiliac joints or my pubic symphysis, or how it can be a little hard to breathe sometimes, or when I’ve cried because it all seems overwhelming, I’ve been told it was wrong to complain and express these things. So now, my physical and emotional discomfort is coupled with feeling guilty for being a bad mother.
But the people with those opinions are few. Far more people have been supportive and have helped me realize that feeling this way doesn’t mean I don’t love my son. Feeling this way and having moments of negativity doesn’t mean I don’t cherish the fact that I’m pregnant with the most perfect baby ever, even when my pubic symphysis is aching and I can’t lift my legs, or getting up off the couch feels like a chore, because my sacroiliac joints are sore and loose. These beautiful, wonderful people in my life have told me things like, “Being pregnant is hard. [You] are growing a human being. It’s like being a super hero. You can be honest about how your body feels, and about how you feel, and still love your child more than anything on the planet.” These people have helped me battle the guilt that the few have introduced to me so that I can look at my pregnancy in a more realistic kind of way, instead of looking at it in a romanticized, fairy tale kind of way (which is my default setting in most things).
Is pregnancy hard? YES.
Is pregnancy wonderful? YES.
Is pregnancy weird? YES.
I went into pregnancy with a very black and white idea, imagining this lovely nine months (which is really ten, by the way, because 40 weeks does not equal nine months no matter who you slice it) full of laughter and smiles and a growing belly that would never feel uncomfortable, that would make me feel beautiful all the time, and instead discovered that reality was less black and white and more rainbow.
Since I’ve been pregnant (I’m 30 weeks), I’ve felt ecstatic, nauseated, joyful, sad, beautiful, ugly, lovely, angry, loved, scared, lucky, anxious, and blessed. I’ve gone through every emotion I can think of and then some. I’ve realized that I’ve lost control of what my body does–when relaxin comes into play, and your ligaments start loosening to prepare for baby, your body is no longer yours to dictate–and that has scared me, even though I expected it to happen. I’ve lost strength in places and gained it in others. I’ve watched my attitude about certain things start to shift (and I know that those attitudes will continue to shift after my baby is here) in ways I never imagined. My body is doing something really incredible, and I’ve witnessed it with wonder and bewilderment.
Primarily I’ve just learned that pregnancy isn’t just one thing. It’s this whole, wonderful, terrifying journey, and to pigeon hole myself into one place and think, “I can only be happy here,” will do nothing but cause more unhappiness on those days when I think, “Can I really do this?” On any journey, on any trek, there will be good days and bad, and to ignore part of that journey would be doing it a disservice. My husband often reminds me that we each have our own story to write. The good days and the bad make it up, and we should be aware of and thankful for all of them, so that’s what I’m trying to do with this first-baby-journey–be present for the good, the bad, and the weird moments of pregnancy.
If you’re thinking of trying to have a baby (whether it’s now or in ten years), this is my advice to you:
First, wait until you and your partner are both all in. If Vince hadn’t been as ready for a baby as I was, the hard days would have been so much harder. He’s been my foundation on days when my emotions have gotten away from me and I’ve felt hopeless, and he’s been there to share in all the wonderful moments where I feel like all is right and perfect with the world, because I feel my sweet boy somersaulting around.
Second, give yourself some grace when you’re trying to conceive. Whether it takes you a day or ten years to get pregnant, don’t beat yourself up. A huge number of people told me it took them a single month, and I read stories about people who tried for years. If you want a baby, every negative test will feel like the end of the world, but remind yourself that your story is yet to be written–there is no right or wrong answer. Just be present and experience each day as it comes.
And third, allow yourself to feel what you feel, to be honest about how you feel, but don’t let the days that those bad feelings come ruin your pregnancy. I have bad days. I also have great days. The emotional pain comes when you allow yourself to think that feeling bad means you’re bad. It doesn’t. It just means you’re human. Be present in all of these things–experience them, learn from them, and grow from them. Experience the full rainbow spectrum of emotion and sensation that pregnancy offers.
Being pregnant is wonderful, it’s weird, and it’s difficult, but even on the really tough days, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the whole wide world.