As we go through life, we cross important milestones that mark different stages of life. Puberty, going to college, falling in love, working your first job, getting married, raising kids, and getting old… are all important phases that we encounter. We often hear about what it’s like to be in a particular stage that we are about to enter, and we build up anticipation, get ready, so we can transition smoothly into and get the most out of each stage.
As naïve as I was, I thought pregnancy was going to be one of these milestones. I thought, mistakenly in hindsight, that I would just naturally slide into being pregnant and smoothly navigate out of it. Boy, was I wrong.
Oh, by the way, in case you haven’t guessed it – yes, we are pregnant! As of the writing of this blog post, I am around 4 months pregnant. It’s been quite a ride, let me tell you. First off, if you’re a long-time reader, you probably sensed something from my lack of productivity (i.e. lack of published blog posts) in the month of March all the way to this month. I even left my full-time job in February to focus on my blog. On top of that, my Instagram activities have plummeted to an all-time low. All of this is to say that the pregnancy was a curveball that life threw at me. I can’t say that I was prepared for it.
But then again, how prepared are we for most things that happen in life, amirite? So, in the spirit of sharing the most honest, straight-forward, non-sugar-coated truth, here are 6 things that no one told me about being pregnant.
Your Body Is No Longer Just Yours
This is probably the most disturbing and unsettling realization I had. We own our body like we own nothing else in the world – it’s OURS, and we do whatever we want with it. If you want to workout every day and be on a keto diet so you look like The Rock, you can. Alternatively, if you want to sit in front of the TV and eat pizza every day (and look like The Potato or whatever the opposite of The Rock is…), hey, you also can. You can pop a painkiller when you have an ache here or there, and you can deny yourself of a good night sleep in the name of YOLO. Guess what? When you’re pregnant, you can’t do any of that (or have to proceed with a lot of caution). Most importantly, you’re no longer the only person in control in how you feel, physically and mentally. Out of nowhere, you will feel like someone just drained your battery and that you HAVE TO lie down. The urgency to go pee all the time is also something that makes you wonder “has someone been injecting water into my bladder without me knowing??“
You May Not Feel A Shred Of Joy, Happy Anticipation, Or Even Hope.
This was by far my biggest struggle. Like many of you, I have friends that have gone through the pain of IVF. The blogosphere also saw a recent flux of bloggers opening up about the difficult journey of trying to get pregnant (see Lace and Locks and Extra Petite’s stories). I KNOW this is a difficult subject and process for many people. I should be grateful towards how easy it was for me to conceive. But when people ask me how I felt when I first became pregnant, all I could say was that I felt like my future was stolen from me. I made plans, very specific plans, to leave the corporate 9-5 life and focus on my blog and turn it into what I know it has the potential to be. Spending 18 hours in bed and feeling not a bit of motivation to do anything (including getting out of bed) was not how I planned on spending the first month of my entrepreneurial life. On top of that, I was a wreck because of the hormonal changes. I’ve experienced bouts of clinical depression before, so I know when my symptoms set in. Literally, on some mornings I would wake up and I just feel like the world has taken on a layer of grayish gloom. Given my past experiences, I know it’s hormones affecting me. Yet knowing the cause of it doesn’t change the way I felt. On those days, I would remind myself to take it easy, allow myself to feel what I was feeling, and work on being OK. After all, it’s reported that between 14-23% of women struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. One motto that helped me a lot during this time was this: It’s hard, it’s normal, and it will change. I repeated it to myself over and over again.
Your First Few OB Appointment Will Be Somewhat Underwhelming.
I still remember the first time I saw the ultrasound of my 5-week-old fetus (I couldn’t really call her a baby at that point – she barely looked human!). I was thinking in my head “THAT is supposed to be the bundle of joy that all women rave about? This is such a scam.” I mean really, at that point, the “fetus” was merely a gestational sac, basically a lump of cells in a sac of some sort. Yes, I heard the heartbeat through the ultrasound, but in my head, it sounded like seaweed floating in the ocean. It did not sound like a lifetime of emotional ups and downs and the most fulfilling human experience ever. Maybe I expected too much. But I walked out of the first and second appointments feeling underwhelmed. OH, BY THE WAY, the first two ultrasounds are done ENDOVAGINALLY. It means they stick the ultrasound wand up your va-jay-jay to check on the baby. It’s not worse than a pap-smear but GOSH why didn’t anyone tell me about this?? I wasn’t mentally prepared to take my panties off and get in one of those humiliating women’s hospital gowns that leaves you butt-naked. But I did. *SIGH*
You Start Questioning The Root Of Your Beliefs, Values, And Foundational Understanding Of Things And Wonder Where They Came From.
Who am I to bring another human being into the world? I barely have a handle on my own issues, how am I going to help another little human prepare for the experiences, difficult or beautiful, of life? How do I teach her from knowing right from wrong, good from bad, and everything else so she can make good decisions? Heck, how did I come to learn to know these things about life and decision making? Did my parents consciously teach them to me, or did they just showed me what was good by embodying those principles? Each and every doubt and question in my head is the beginning of its own rabbit hole. Not to mention the whole nature vs. nurture debate. What kind of personality is she going to have? Is she going to question every decision I make for her the way that I question my mom’s decision for me? (The answer is probably yes. Because KARMA.) What scares me the most is that they say parenting is caught not taught. So, you are going to want to consciously teach your kids certain things, prevent them from doing certain things. But there are the things that you are unconsciously doing that your kids will model their behavior after without you realizing. That scares the shit out of me.
A Case Of Identity Crisis Begins
Growing up, I was never one to play with dolls and pretend to be a mom or have baby names picked out at age 12. I actually openly talked about my aversion towards kids. My excuse/reason is that kids don’t like me. I don’t know why. I also had a serious case of infant phobia. Yes, I invented the name but the condition is real – I was so scared of handling young babies!! The seemingly conflicting thing is, I have always known that I was going to have kids. Even though I don’t particularly look forward to handling a newborn/toddler/pre-teen and whatever monster they turn into after that point, I knew having and raising kids is an irreplaceable experience in life. But man oh man, motherhood is a loaded word that I am a. scared of b. don’t care for c. don’t know how to (or don’t want to) prioritize against other roles that I play in life. You see, being a (great) mother was not something I particularly aspired to be in life. I am not one of those people whose identity rests on the fact that they produced and raised another human being. This isn’t to diminish the hard work and difficulty of motherhood; it simply shows how little it means to me in my life journey. Yet, here I was, at the onset of burgeoning motherhood. Who am I going to be as a mother, how am I going to be as a mother, and lastly why am I becoming a mother…these questions hover in my head when I lie wide awake in the middle of the night due to, you guessed it, hormones.
Thank goodness for blog posts like 10 Reasons I Still Feel Like Myself While Being a Mom. It gives me SO much to look forward to and allows me to believe that there are elements that I can control in terms of how my identity evolves, instead of being dragged into this baby-raising hell that will forever change who I am.
The Struggle With Body Image Is Real.
This is probably a blog post entirely on its own. I won’t divulge too much here because it’s quite a dark place. But my ever-changing body during pregnancy has NOT left me feeling joyful and excited. I do not have the body type that enables the body to stay the same while only the belly swells. I, my whole person, swelled. And to call this swelling is putting it nicely. The weight gain combined with major lack of energy made me feel like a lazy bum. All of a sudden, I was watching my 600-Pound Life with this new-found empathy. When your weight changes (for the worse) uncontrollably, it’s a terrible feeling. None of my clothes fit anymore, including underwear. I was hesitant to buy new things for my new body because I didn’t know how much more it was going to change. I ended up buying some leggings and maternity tee-shirts through PinkBlush and I am OH-SO-IN-LOVE.
I will probably write another stand-alone blog post on this topic alone. Is that something you would find interesting?
I’d like to apologize if I came across as negative at all in this post. It’s something that I am quite conscious of. My intention in divulging on the not-so-joyful details is to share the realities that I don’t think enough people talk about. And more importantly, if you are pregnant and feeling the same way that I feel, you are not alone. Definitely do not feel ashamed of your questions, doubts, and questions that you haven’t heard anyone else asked. You don’t hear about them asking these questions because they’re hard to answer.
Remember, each woman’s pregnant journey is unique and uniquely difficult. Your difficulty should be at least acknowledged if not understood. For those of you who are echoing my sentiment, I want you to know that you are not alone.
All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse