Honest Pregnancy: A Letter to Fearful Moms-to-Be from TheBlissfulPoet.com // pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, inspiration, pregnancy tips

Honest Pregnancy: A Letter to Fearful Moms-to-Be

Dear Momma-to-be,

When I found out I was pregnant, I cried like someone had just told me I couldn’t have wine for nine months.

Oh. Wait.

Husband and I always knew we wanted a kid or two. Eventually. Way over there, in the future, where we wouldn’t actually be for a long, long time. But then it happened. Not way over there in the future, but right here in the present.

He and I have more than warmed to the idea of our little Tater Tot, and we’re quite excited to meet our sweet mini. But that first month was difficult. I’d just been diagnosed with a chronic illness three weeks prior, and I was grappling with the idea of maintaining a house of three (four, if you count the cat) when I was feeling increasingly terrible, trying to start a business from scratch, and struggling to keep up with an overbooked schedule.

But the more I read, the more perks I saw to being pregnant: Glowing skin! Thicker hair! Bigger boobs! Baby showers! Gifts! Plus, it seemed like the perfect time to quit my job in finance, the one that had grown stressful and just plain wrong for me. Since I was going to be home with an infant before too long, I could finally focus on my writing and copyediting business and finish my first book.

Heh. Yeah.

It took me no time at all to realize that not enough women were being totally honest about pregnancy. Or maybe they were, and their experiences were just much better than mine. But I went downhill, and fast.

In light of that, I’m going to get honest about pregnancy (including the bad, the good, and the unexpected) and why it’s okay to not always be okay.

THE BAD

I’m about 15 weeks along as I write this. That means I have approximately 25 weeks until I experience potentially the worst physical pain of my life, forgo regular sleep for three to six months, wear vomit like a cheap accessory, forget to brush my hair for weeks, and measure time only in months for the rest of my life.

So far my pregnancy symptoms have included:

  • Nausea
  • Crying (sad tears)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Crying (happy tears)
  • Back and nerve pain
  • Crying (sad tears)
  • Round ligament pain
  • Crying (happy tears)
  • Aversion to sweets
  • Crying (sad tears)
  • Craving for sweets
  • Crying (happy tears)
  • Weight loss
  • Crying (sad tears)
  • Weight gain
  • Crying (happy tears)
  • Congestion & shortness of breath
  • Crying (anyone’s guess)

And yet all I can think is, Why aren’t my boobs bigger yet?

I’m lucky to have supportive, generous, inspiring women in my life who have rallied to offer me advice, encouragement, and even maternity clothes and baby gear. My “sisters” in motherhood have stepped up and become a needed source of community and strength. In fact, I want to apologize to my friends and relatives who experienced all of this before me. Until now, I didn’t know what you were going through. I wish I’d been there to help you more, celebrate with you more, and offer whatever support you needed. But now I know. Now I can be a better resource for other moms in the future.

I believe the women in my life have been very honest with me about pregnancy. Every woman’s experience is different, hearing about those experiences fascinates me. But I also realize not every woman has the luxury of a supportive circle of relatives and friends to get her through things like this. A lot of women, in addition to learning for themselves (as we all do), have to find advice wherever they can.

But that advice on the Internet, man.

Let’s start with that “pregnancy glow.” Right. The only thing glowing in this house is the Christmas tree I still haven’t taken down because I’m too tired. Or the nightlight in the hallway that I’m going to have to move to the bathroom to accommodate my 42 trips per night. It’s hard to “glow” when your chin is erupting with teenage-style acne and your nausea has reduced your diet to a daily sleeve of saltines and ginger ale.

Also, what’s with the irrational emotions? Why do I suddenly cry during oatmeal commercials and want to throw a torch over the wall onto my coworker’s desk?

And more questions like:

  • Why do I hate every name we could possibly choose for our child?
  • Where is everything going to go in there as Mini B grows?
  • What if our child’s IQ is on par with Kim Kardashian’s because of the bottle of champagne Husband and I split the night before we found out?
  • What if I have an epidural or c-section?
  • How are we going to pay all of our medical bills?
  • Will we EVER be out of debt again?
  • What about the vacation we were planning?
  • Our weekly movie dates?
  • Swollen feet?
  • Stretch marks??
  • More breakouts???
  • INCONTINENCE?!?!

*Sobs quietly in the corner.*

This is what happens in the mind of a pregnant woman.

THE GOOD

Then there’s the overjoyed, incredibly grateful side that’s just plain delighted at the idea of our Tater Tot cooing and cuddling and definitely not pooping everywhere. What an opportunity! Think about it: this is a brand new person we have the privilege of raising, someone with whom we can share all the things we love: music, books, food, games, movies, vacations, Friday night pizzas, Saturday morning pancakes, and, well, just life in general.

As I’ve read baby books and Googled endlessly (“champagne while pregnant,” “caffeine while pregnant,” “ibuprofen while pregnant,” “can I have anything while pregnant?”), my maternal side has slowly come out of her shell. It seems like almost every other woman I’ve ever met has this babydar. It’s like, if there’s a baby in the room, they all zero in on him like he’s a plate of fat-free cookies or Ryan Gosling’s shirt or something. Ooh, can I hold him? Can I hold her? Me next! Meanwhile, I’m huddled over by the real plate of cookies (full-fat, I hope), shoving them down two at a time and hoping the Keeper of the Baby doesn’t notice me next. Because truly, I don’t know if there’s a nice way to answer a resounding NO to the question, “Would you like to hold the baby?”



I think my baby conundrum would be different if I could talk to them like regular humans. But I can’t, so I’m stuck in this non-verbal limbo in which I somehow have to entertain a small, wrinkly, surprisingly heavy potato-like human who has no idea what I am, let alone who. On the outside, my baby interactions might seem like a lot of smiling and cooing and aw!-ing, but what’s really going on is this:

Me: Hi, baby. How are you?
Baby: Eeeeeghrrrrehlghh.
Me: What? Use your words, baby.
Baby: Graaaaagl!
Me: No, seriously. I can’t understand you.
(At this point the baby gets agitated and begins to squirm.)
Me: Look, I’m really sorry, but they just sort of … handed you to me. I didn’t ask for this either.
Baby: Eeeeeeeghhhh. Waaaahhhhh!
Me: Okay, baby. Calm down. You’re going to embarrass me in front of your mother.
Baby starts to cry.
I start to cry.
I apologize to the mother and explain that any modicum of maternal instinct I have has always been directed toward cats.

But seriously, even though there are a lot of “cons” to pregnancy, there are a lot of “pros” too: The first ultrasound. The first time you hear that little heartbeat. The excitement (sometimes shock) that plays across your loved ones’ faces when you tell them the good news. The nursery planning, the name picking, the endless milkshakes supplied by your doting husband. (That wasn’t just me, right?) Pregnancy is astounding, and it’s not something you can just get up and decide to experience on any given day.

 

If you're pregnant and worried about the future, know this: You are not alone. Fear of physical changes, financial struggle, shifting priorities, relational changes -- they're all real. You're not as crazy as you feel right now. // TheBlissfulPoet.com // quotes, pregnancy, parenting, inspiration

THE UNEXPECTED

One thing my mom told me about her labor and delivery experience was that after it was over, she was angry at all of the women who’d failed to warn her just how physically painful it would be. So the physical side of pregnancy — including the pain of labor and delivery — was the first thing I considered when I found out I was expecting.

What I didn’t expect? The emotional instability. The anxiety. The intense, consuming fear.

I’m prone to anxiety, so it’s not coming out of left field completely. But I did not expect to reach a point where I felt pain in my chest every time I saw a picture of an infant on Facebook or a young mother walking around Walmart with her little one strapped to her like a baby kangaroo. I did not expect to see the tiny, soft fingers of a newborn curled around a father’s finger and feel like I couldn’t catch my breath. I did not expect the army of What Ifs that plagued me in my most defenseless moments, like first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night. I did not expect the quiet waves of awe and wonder and fear to lap gently but constantly at the surface of my thoughts, threatening to overtake me in a tidal wave should I linger too long.

I never expected to feel love so fierce I simply don’t know how to handle it or what to do with it. Especially for a person I haven’t even met yet.

Growing up, I always thought the physical pain of giving birth would be the hardest part. But now, I don’t think that’s true. I think the hardest part is worrying that no matter how hard I try, I won’t always get it right. I won’t always be able to give her the best of the best. I’ll make mistakes. I won’t always be able to keep her safe from hurtful people and painful situations.

And no matter what, I will never be able to show her exactly how much I love her. Not with my human heart, so well-intentioned but anxious. So full but imperfect. So overwhelmed by love — or maybe something beyond love — that sometimes it feels as though it might collapse under the weight of it. That’s the part that scares me the most.

But despite the fatigue, irritability, irrational emotions, nausea-hunger, sore boobs, skin trouble, weight changes, lightheadedness, headaches, anxiety, and sheer terror at the thought of labor and delivery, my joy has already eclipsed every negative thought or feel I’ve had since this adventure began.

Husband and I had our first ultrasound recently, and when we saw our Tater Tot there on the screen — tiny, determined heart fluttering away like a hummingbird’s wings — I wanted to laugh with joy. I thought maybe I’d cry, and I nearly did, but even more than that, I wanted to laugh.

Because no matter how many books I write, no matter how much money we make, no matter what our house looks like or how clean it isn’t, and no matter if I never master the art of meal planning or making my own detergent or coffee creamer or coconut oil anything, there is nothing more astounding or meaningful to me than nurturing a human life.

Even imperfectly.

If you’re pregnant and worried about the future, know this: You are not alone. Fear of physical changes, financial struggle, shifting priorities, relational changes — they’re all real. You’re not as crazy as you feel right now.

I’m not qualified to give parenting advice yet. I realize that. Eventually, I’ll know how to change a diaper behind my back with my eyes closed. But right now, all I can do is write about it. I’ll take all the advice and help I can get from my own mom, as well as my incredible family and friends who have done this all before. But one thing many of them have told me is that you forget. After you have your children and raise them and move on with your exhausting, beautiful life, you forget what it was like to be pregnant, to give birth. It doesn’t stick the way you think it would.

So that’s where I’m coming from right now. The place of not forgetting. The place where you currently are, too: pregnant, anxious, excited, fearful, and ever-so-grateful to be given a privilege like this.

The privilege of motherhood.

I was on my eighteenth trip to the bathroom this morning when I realized something amazing. Despite every symptom I’ve had, physical or otherwise, I already know I would do this again in a heartbeat.

A tiny, fluttering, determined heartbeat.

And if I can do it, then you, beautiful lady, can do it, too.


*Update: It’s been nearly 15 weeks since I originally wrote this post. Our Mini B has upgraded from tater tot to full-sized spud. I’m so excited to meet her I can’t stand it, and now my only reservations involve my own emotional stability. (Seriously, how am I not going to cry every time I hold her?) And those labor and delivery fears? They’re still real, but I’m not afraid in the same way anymore. I’m anticipatory. I know it will be among the hardest work of my life, but I’m ready for it. I was built to do this.

I’m also no longer terrified of babies; instead, I can’t get enough of them. They’re just so freakin’ precious. Funny how that maternal instinct kicks in after all, isn’t it? 

 

 

One comment

  1. Laura Yackel

    When I am pregnant and insecure and freaking out, I will definitely come back to this blog post for a bit of peace of mind. 🙂

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