I’m almost six months pregnant and I can hardly believe it. The time has gone by so quickly so far and I never expected that it would feel this fast. Pregnancy has brought on many things I haven’t expected and luckily has also left some things out that I fully expected to happen. I didn’t really experience morning sickness in my first trimester, I haven’t experienced any crazy cravings or food aversions, and my weight gain has been fairly steady. Overall, on paper, I’d say I’ve had a fairly easy pregnancy so far. However, the one thing I did not expect, or I guess just never thought about, was the way that I would feel internally. I never thought about being pregnant in terms of emotions, other than wild mood swings of which I’ve only had a few. But, if I’m being honest with myself the thought process around being pregnant and the feelings that I’ve experienced have probably been the most difficult part. From imposter syndrome, to doubts, to anxiety, to body-image issues I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions that I’ve never even considered before, and that I don’t think many people feel comfortable talking about. So here I am, writing this down, so that someday I can look back or maybe I can share it with others so they know that they’re not the only one.
The parenthood anxiety is real. Thinking about being responsible for a little life and caring for a tiny human is a pretty terrifying experience. What if I’m not good at it? What if I fail? And biggest of all, what if I’m not capable of that gushing, unconditional, gooey love that every parent talks about? In the beginning of my pregnancy, everyone asked “are you excited?” and it was difficult because I didn’t know if I was. I mean sure, the thought of having a mini-me is great, but shouldn’t I be over the moon? Shouldn’t I be shedding happy tears at the thought of my daughter arriving into this world? I just wasn’t. And it still sort of makes me feel bad. People’s reactions make it even more awkward because I think they expect you to gush. They expect you to twirl in circles and tell them how bubbly and bouncing you feel about your new arrival. So you learn to sort of fake it, and I guess that sort of makes you feel happier about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not excited – I am – but I’m also nervous and anxious and a little bit terrified. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and not think too much about how I feel about it. She’s coming either way and my emotions ebb and flow like they never have before, so I’m learning to give myself a ton of grace and not get too caught up in people’s reactions to my emotive state. I’m not a super outwardly emotional person anyway. I’ve always been a bit more reserved, a bit more private, especially when it comes to the big emotions. So maybe I’m more excited than even I realize, or maybe I’m just excited in a different way.
The other question I’ve gotten, mostly from my mom, is “do you love her so much already?” to which I respond – “sure?” – which again, is not the great overly jovial response that people expect. What is wrong with me? Will I not be excited when she finally gets here? Will I be a terrible mother? If I can’t even be excited now, will I ever? So I’m trying to think of it in another way… I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve never had children or had a small human growing inside of my body. I’ve never known how it feels to be a parent loving a child. How would I know if I love her yet, I’ve never even met her. I mean, sure, I can feel her wiggling around in my abdomen sometimes, but I don’t know her, and how can I love someone I don’t know. I love the idea of her so far, and I think maybe right now that’s all I’m capable of. When she arrives, maybe I will gush and squeal and ooze with sappy, teary love, but maybe I won’t. Maybe my love will be fierce, and strong, and soft but also unyielding, maybe that’s just the type of parent that I’m destined to be. And maybe it goes back to just being more private about my emotions. Perhaps I’ll be that way as a parent too – more reserved, more quiet, more stoic. I can’t change who I am, but I also can’t predict the future. I’m learning to let go of control. Pregnancy has been the biggest exercise in letting go that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.
Letting go of expectations is another huge lesson I’m learning throughout my pregnancy. Specifically with body image and self love. When you see pregnancy ads, or pregnant people in movies or television you see this perfect baby bump on a normal sized body, but if you’re like me, and probably any other pregnant woman in existence you gain weight. Your body changes and not always in the cute perfect baby bump and giant boobs sort of way that you see on TV. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that every pregnancy is different. Every woman grows a bump at a different pace, everyone gains weight differently, everyone is different. In everyday situations it’s so easy to compare yourself to others especially nowadays with social media, but add 25+ pounds to your ever-growing frame and do a search for pregnant women on Instagram and you’ll find it’s SO much easier to scroll for hours and hours when you’re comparing baby bumps – at least that’s how it’s been for me. Is my bump big enough? Have I gained too much weight? Are my arms the same size they were 4 weeks ago? Why does her bump look more round? Why does my bump look different? Am I working out enough? Am I doing this wrong? ALL OF THIS WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY. You can’t have expectations. Expectations breed disappointment and the sooner we can let go and let our bodies be and LOVE the fact that they still carry us and our babies the happier we will be – at least that’s what I’m learning. I’m trying to pick something positive about my body to focus on every time I feel down on myself because it is amazing what my body is doing and it’s amazing that I could be shallow enough to not appreciate that for what it is. And, although it’s always easier said than done, I’m trying to make this a huge facet of my life right now. What’s helping me most is number one, to stop comparing – this does me no good pre-pregnancy and does even more harm pregnant. Number two, wearing cute clothes and making myself feel pretty every day – for me this is doing my makeup, moisturizing, self-tanner, pedicures, self-care. If I want to feel good about myself I need to do things that make me feel good. And finally number three, I’m taking it one day at a time.
At this point I probably sound like the biggest whiner in the entire world when it comes to my pregnancy, and if you’ve read this far I apologize for seeming that way. I truly am so grateful. Again, I think I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion that I’ve never felt and needed a place to spew the negative for just a moment. Writing this all down and being able to read back on it makes me realize how far I’m coming though. I’m learning so much about myself and I think that’s what surprises me most about my pregnancy experience. I’m surprised at my internal dialogue and the affect that is has on my well-being. I’m even more surprised at how the switch to positivity and self-love can really trigger better days and better moods and better thoughts. It’s amazing what our minds are capable of as well as our bodies. I never thought I would be pregnant. I never thought I would get to experience everything that I’m experiencing and I’m learning to be so grateful for the process. Learning to let go and let be and to be still is such a huge leap for me personally. And I can’t wait to be able to practice these same types of expectation-releasing and calm-breathing, self-loving vibes once my daughter is here. I really am, truly excited, I think perhaps I just need to give myself some time and some grace to process all off the emotional symptoms of pregnancy that not a whole lot of the baby books talk about.