Monday, July 3rd, 2017
We live in a time where information and ideas are constantly pushed onto us. We naturally adopt many of these things as truths and in turn they shape and effect our thoughts and feelings. Pregnancy and birth are two subjects that this particular notion is extremely effected by. I know that I had all kinds of preconceived notions that I’d picked up from here and there regarding pregnancy. Some of them turned out to be true, some not. I found myself mostly feeling like I was some kind of weirdo because of how much I didn’t enjoy being pregnant. Women are supposed to be happy and glowing when they’re pregnant….and I just hated every new surprise ailment or limitation that kept presenting itself….frustrated that I couldn’t sit in the bath for long periods of time or be comfortable sleeping through my last nights without caring for a child. Small thing, minor things, but nonetheless ever present and spreading throughout every aspect of my life.
Most women, at least from the outside, seem completely unaffected by pregnancy. I know many women who say that they loved every minute of it…and I believe them! I, on the other hand, found myself acutely aware of the intense transformation taking place, both physically and mentally. Moreover, for the first half of the pregnancy I truly didn’t feel a connection to the little human seedling inside me. I also felt like I was experiencing something that I couldn’t be openly honest about, because women ARE SUPPOSED to be happy when they’re pregnant, right? I found myself biting my tongue (sometimes) when people would ask, “How are you feeling?”. Hearing in my head, “I feel like shit and my emotions are getting the better of me”, instead gritting and saying, “I’m fine, it’s going great”.
I had a very normal, and by most accounts “easy” pregnancy. Of the many awful physical things that can develop during a pregnancy, I luckily experienced very few, temporary ailments. <SIDE NOTE: A friend just posted this amazing comic strip about the brutal honesty around a mother’s body and birth> Most of my issue was psychological. The feeling that there’s something taking over your body that you have zero control over. The feeling that this young, sexy woman that you’ve become is stepping aside to make way for a matronly one. The feeling of being left out from late night parties with friends, especially when you’re one of the first ones to take the plunge into parenthood. The feeling that your belly and what’s inside is the only thing people ever want to talk about with you – friends or strangers. I truly felt that I was becoming a different person, that people saw me and treated me differently….and more than that, that I’d never be the same.
Now, I realize that many of these things were just going on in my own head, but they were real emotions that really effected me for many months. At one point, I had gotten so stuck in my head on all the negative things that were happening and how miserable I felt that it was really effecting not only me but my husband as well. I had to make a change, we were only half way through and I couldn’t go on like this. We agreed to only talk about the positive things. To focus on the incredible event that was occurring and how wonderful this little human was going to be. The fact that he and I were embarking on this journey together, hand in hand, that we were creating a family. My midwives and doula said that I was in fact going through a transformation and that indeed I was never going to be the same….but not in a bad way and that I shouldn’t be afraid! All of this REFOCUSING of energy totally worked. Kind of like when you’re grumpy and you force yourself to smile and after awhile you feel silly and start laughing. For the first time during the pregnancy, it was that moment that it became more tangible, that I created that connection with the baby and actually started to get excited. That I let go of all my fears and celebrated who I was becoming and who I was creating. Accepting that I was in fact becoming a different person and that it was OK.
More than anything, I cut myself some slack. It was OK that I was feeling miserable from time to time, in fact it was perfectly NORMAL! I got so down on myself for not being that beaming, glowing, pregnant woman right out of the gate that I thought something was wrong with me. I unnecessarily isolated myself and became my own worst enemy. I then relied on my support system and all the people that loved me to bounce back. I also became acutely aware of all the crap that had been shoved down my throat by external sources about what a pregnancy should be and how a pregnant woman should be and how I just played right into it. Every pregnancy is different, every mama is different and given the transformation that takes place, expect the unexpected. Maybe you were or will be someone who loves every minute and is happy and glowing the whole time….maybe you’ll be more like I was or somewhere in between. If you find yourself in a dark place, find help! Lean on your girlfriends, your mother, your partner, find a therapist who works with pregnant women (yes, I even talked with one too!). All these feelings and emotions will come and go and it may be different than you thought it would be, but remind yourself often that it’s temporary and perfectly normal. Embrace your transformation and you’ll find the whole experience a lot more pleasant!