Yesterday made 26 weeks/6 months that I’ve been pregnant with my baby girl. As I approached Friday, I began to realize that there are so many aspects of pregnancy that NO ONE told me about. I don’t blame others for not informing me, because I believe it’s a journey that is so individual to each person and each pregnancy that it’s almost a shame to have too much information ahead of time. However, as my husband and I go though this process, and the baby grows more and more, I am forced to acknowledge that there are certain things that we just hadn’t prepared ourselves for. I figure that although each person and pregnancy is different, it would benefit ME to share my thoughts and experiences even if just to get them out of my head. If someone else can relate, that’s great also.
1. This process is emotional…for both of us.
I was warned of the crazy amounts of hormones that would be swarming through my body and causing me to think and behave somewhat out of character. I was warned that I’d be more emotional than normal. However, I don’t think that I was prepared for the way me being pregnant would affect my husband emotionally. It may seem obvious, but I’m realizing that my emotions and emotional episodes affect my husbands emotions and actions just as much (if not more) than they affect me. Husbands rarely get asked how they are feeling through this process. In the minds of a woman, we are thinking “It doesn’t matter how they feel, I’m the one carrying the baby” or “They should just learn to deal with it”. While I understand that mindset, because I care about him, I have to be in tune with and care about how this process affect him. If most men are like my husband, they don’t go around expressing themselves all the time. My husband is really good at feeling but not very good at expressing those feelings. My emotional episodes ( while he should expect them) still make him feel a certain way. He still gets irritated that he’s expected to help me figure out what I want to eat. He gets irritated that I expect him to know what I’m saying even when I’m not saying it. He gets irritated when I’m so emotional that I can’t function at times. He does a great job of navigating it (most of the time) but it’s unfair for his feelings to not be considered. Because I’m pregnant, does not mean that his needs automatically get neglected. It doesn’t mean that he does not have the right to feel, and it also does not mean that I ignore his feelings because of what’s going on in my body. So. I’m trying to work on that.
2. I have to work twice as hard to feel beautiful.
I’ve encountered so many women that have told me how beautiful I am in this pregnancy process. People tell me daily that pregnancy looks good on me and that I’m carrying it well, etc; which is great! Don’t stop complimenting me :-). However, even with all of that, I struggle with getting dressed almost daily; especially as I get bigger. I have a mini meltdown when one week, I try on a shirt that accents my body perfectly but won’t even fit around my belly the next week. I used to tease my sister and old roommate when she was pregnant. We still laugh about the day she woke up, began to get dressed for work, and realized that her clothes didn’t fit. I remember having to calm her down because she had no idea what she was going to wear. Luckily for her, she has a very small frame and my regular clothes were able to fit her pregnant body perfectly. Now, I understand why she had that fit. It’s expected that my stomach will grow, I get that. What I don’t think I’ve gotten used to is how I feel about my stomach getting bigger. People think it’s so cute and amazing and most of the time, I think it’s devastating (just being honest). I’ve realized that clothes with horizontal stripes make me feel twice as big and white shirts are the devil. My face is starting to chunk up a little bit and while people can’t see my aches and pains, they’re real and do not help in making me feel beautiful. My body wasn’t ever “perfect” before, but I had gotten used to dressing it and knowing what angles in which to take selfies so that I felt cute. Now, I’m relearning my body as my belly consistently grows. I look to my husband to compliment me when I get dressed just for a little reassurance but I’m trying to learn how to feel good about myself whether he says anything or not. My husband does a great job of making it known that he thinks I’m beautiful; but mentally, I’m in overdrive trying to convince myself that I’m still sexy, wanted and beautiful even when I look in the mirror and see a balloon.
3. People say crazy things.
Now, at 25, I’ve somewhat gotten used to the world and their obscure comments but with emotion and the stress of preparing for a baby, they are somewhat harder to receive. I try to keep in mind that people have the best intentions at heart most of the time and others just have no idea that what they say could offend you. About a month ago at church, two older women made comments to me that irritated me but I’m 97% positive that my irritation magnified because of hormones. One lady said “Oh you’re having a girl, you need to go back and get a boy. X wants a boy”. My initial response was silence because I knew that if I said something, it would be rude. Luckily my husband was there as a buffer and he was able to laugh the situation into a comfortable place. I did manage to say under my breath “Well that ain’t got nothing to do with me”. The same morning, another older woman said “Ooh, you done put on some weight ain’t ya?” Well thank you so much for that. *insert side eye emoji* Now, while these comments probably seem very simple and non threatening, for an emotional and growing pregnant woman, they were like daggers. People also stare a lot. While this isn’t a verbal comment, initially I was offended by the stares. A friend had to remind me that people just like looking at pregnant woman and that I should take it more as admiration than insult. So that’s what I’m choosing to do. Well, I’m trying.
4. I feel like a helpless, burdensome victim.
I’m such a prideful person that was raised to get things done on my own. I’m also a woman that wants things done when I want it done. With that being said, it’s so hard to be that person when there are so many things I’m “not supposed to do”. Whether myth or fact, this list of things can be so frustrating to a person that does not do well with limits. For example, since I haven’t been working a 9-5 day job, I have more time to do get things done. During my fourth month, I desperately wanted to clean out our second bedroom to create an office/nursery combo. This meant that I would have to rearrange bins, lift boxes and spend hours sifting through papers and junk. Again, being the type of woman who likes things done when I want them done, I just couldn’t find the patience to wait on my husband to help me, so I decided to do it myself. I spent a day cleaning, rearranging, sifting and eventually lifting to the point where I could begin to feel my body complaining. When my husband got home and realized that I had been doing way too much, he scolded me (in a nice, respectful, caring husband way). It’s been hard to recognize that I just can not do what I used to do or how I used to do it. Simple things like bending down to tie my shoe send my mother in law and certain friends into a panic and result in a speech of why I shouldn’t be bending. While I enjoy being served by others and catered to, it also makes me feel helpless sometimes. Even when it comes to asking my husband to get me food, I feel like a burden. I hate interrupting others to help me but I also recognize that these pains and struggles to simply get off of a comfortable couch are very real. I’m learning to find the balance in doing for myself while also allowing others to help me. I remind myself that there is indeed a person growing inside of me, taking my energy and causing intricate yet significant changes to my body.
5. I don’t have all the answers.
The process of preparing to be a mom reminds me a little bit of what it was like when I was preparing to be a wife. There are so many things to research, a new reality to prepare for, plans to make, and dozens of internal questions as well as questions from others. Whenever I saw other pregnant women, they made the process seem seamless (mostly because we didn’t discuss their struggle in this area). I somehow expected that I would just know what to research, know the answers, and be eager to plan for our future; not the case. I’m learning what to research as well as being more intentional about asking friends and mentors about their experiences but it literally took me almost 6 months to reach that point. I shared thoughts in my post “For My Dreaming Mommies” about how I’ve been nervous about how mommy hood will affect my ability to continue pursuing my dreams. That question still interferes with my ability to balance my planning. For the majority of my pregnancy, I was so focused on starting and maintaining my visions that I neglected to plan for my baby. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, that I realized that I wasn’t aware of key essentials for my baby registry or what steps I needed to be taking to prepare for my baby’s arrival. Since then, I’ve taken steps to research but I’ve often found myself feeling overwhelmed about how to balance my life. Should I focus on all these visions? What will happen to them once I have my baby? Will they be on pause for years? Those questions are also accompanied by the excitement of having a new life in our home. Excitement of getting to know our baby girl and preparing our minds for sleepless nights and simply figuring it out. As I acknowledge that I’m an over-thinker, I realize that I simply do not have all the answers; and right now, that just has to be OK.
Overall, I’m excited. Every time I feel my baby girl kicking me and moving around in my belly, I smile. Her mere existence brings me joy in times when I’m sad. This process has been difficult but it has also been extremely rewarding. It’s a beautiful process and I love seeing my husband pray for our baby every night or put his hand on my belly to feel her kicking. By no means do I want to paint the process as terrible, because it’s far from it; but I also don’t want to present the facade that it’s easy and always delightful because it’s not that either. Wherever we are in life, no matter the type of process we’re going through, I know there is beauty within it as well as lessons to help us be who we are supposed to be on the other side. With three months left, I’m committed to seeking balance and God for directions on how to be the best me possible for myself, my husband, my community and my Brooklyn.