Is it sacrilege to even write this post? Isn’t pregnancy supposed to be all about linen kaftans, taking ‘bumpie’ photos with various fruit and casually glowing to new age music?
For some, pregnancy is a wonderful time of good vibrations, happy hormones and much excitement and anticipation.
For others, there may be moments where the world takes on a rosy glow, but these are only intermittent snippets in a long and dreary era of swollen feet, extreme tiredness and GUI (General Unexplained Irritability).
Blame PinInterest, blame the media, blame your mother… there seem to be endless idealized portrayals of what a mum-to-be should look like. Not feeling like a blessed flower child can have you feeling guilty for already failing at being a mum, guilty for not enjoying pregnancy as much as you should, guilty for wishing away this ‘precious’ time.
Let’s start at the beginning. Finding out that you are expecting is an exciting time – when the child is wanted and the timing is right. Yes, that’s right, some pregnancies are not wanted and many mothers go initial shock when they find they are pregnant. This has nothing to do with not respecting the sanctity of life and everything to do with the fact that we are living in the world of pressures and responsibilities: financial, career, time and otherwise. Not every unexpected surprise is a welcome one and for many parents the first days, weeks or months are more scary than exciting.
The first trimester can be a trying time. It’s the time many mothers find themselves the most exhausted, with nausea kicking in and hormones zooming around like fireworks. Cue random tears / tantrums. It’s also the most nervous period as the pregnancy is not yet established and can be fraught with worry. Many parents are counting the weeks until the pregnancy has settled and they can finally do the big reveal.
The second trimester frequently brings a time of relief and many mothers find that this is the loveliest time of pregnancy. HCG levels drop causing the nausea to subside, energy levels improve and now there is a proper proud bump developing to show the world that a new life is on its way!
The final trimester can be characterized by the three Ps: peeing, podge and panic. As the baby grows, the size of the bladder shrinks to a fraction of its size. I remember planning routes on my local walks so that I could plan out my pee breaks. If you haven’t swollen already, general baby weight starts to bloat your body into something resembling the size and consistency of a two-day-old trifle. Finally, panic sets in as you get into the home straight. When will the baby arrive? Is everything ready? Is the baby moving enough? How will I handle labour? How will I even know that I am in labour? Will the baby latch on ok to breastfeed? Questions, questions, questions!
Conclusion: being a mother and bringing life into the world is a sacred thing. It is also tiring, frustrating and exhausting. A melting pot where the magical melts into the mundane.
A lot of pregnancy can be spent feeling really positive, massaging your growing bump and in awe at your body and the miracle it can create. You can be almost overcome with emotion at the prospect of having a baby of your very own to love and what it will mean for you to take on a new motherly identity and make your house a home.
However, there is also plenty of time in those nine months to feel a range of emotions, from bliss to bonkers. On the lower end of the sensory spectrum, you are not only nauseous and exhausted, but also upset, worried, paranoid, unloved, frantic and just feeling downright fat.
Yes, pregnancy is a blessing, especially if it’s been difficult or a long time coming, but it is also a huge task for your body and mind. If you are not loving feeling that your body has been taken over by a little alien that has made you its host – you are not alone!
Being honest with yourself and respecting your feelings is healthy. Feeling depressed is not. If you are overcome with the whole experience of pregnancy and are experiencing anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness or any other negative emotion make sure to get help. Talk to your partner, talk to your friends. Call one of these: NHS Helplines.
Do not suffer in silence.
However you are feeling, remember that there are always moments that let the light in. A strong kick from your little friend reminding you that you are growing a soft, wonderful, gentle new human being. Special treatment on the bus / at the supermarket / everywhere else. An excuse to go shopping. An excuse for cake.
Being pregnant really is an incredible experience. Try to enjoy it. But if you are reading this 30 kgs heavier with stretch-mark that can be seen from space, feet the size of buckets and clumps of hair falling to the floor, forget all this and feel free to throw a proverbial tomato at the screen and curse my do-gooding in colorful language.
Just try to remember the light waiting for you on the other side.