I have to admit, being pregnant has not been at all what I expected. I'm going to confess some things in hopes that I can help other first-time moms-to-be not feel so alone in their thoughts, trying very hard not to cross the line into complaining (or at least tempering it with humor). I still remember the sensitivity advice I was handing out not too terribly long ago.
CONFESSION #1: I have had and am still having a really hard time coming to grips with my changing body. I never realized how tied up part of my self-esteem was in being somewhat in shape. Watching my stomach grow each week was something I thought would be so incredible; instead I’ve stopped looking in mirrors, stopped shopping for clothes, stopped feeling attractive altogether. It makes me feel horrible even admitting it. I know I'm not alone in this as I have talked to other women about this very thing, but it's something rarely spoken aloud. I have really had to make a conscious effort to try to embrace the changes, to accept compliments, to accept myself. Who knew that being pregnant would bring about such self-reflection?!
CONFESSION #2: I am beyond scared about going into labor. Not just a tiny bit. We're talking straight terrified. I decided years ago that if/when God allowed me to have a baby, that I would have it naturally. This does not help my fear. I think that for the most part I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I've seen way too much television to think that it's going to be easy. I have a doula, a birth plan, a competent (if horribly unsympathetic) OB, and a wonderfully supportive husband, but still the anxiety not only lingers but increases daily. Today I found out that as of week 39 nothing has changed - no dilation, no dropping, nothing. The thought of having to be induced and abandon the plans we've made is disheartening and scary. People love to share their horror stories, as well as those of their sister's best friend's cousin's daughter, which does nothing to relieve the apprehension.
CONFESSION #3: I have turned into a symptom googling, webmd-ing obsessor. Every twinge, every pain, every anomaly leads me straight to my laptop in search of validation or at least some explanation which may or may not alleviate my concerns. At least half the time I am forced to then google other symptoms or complications...it's a never-ending circle of searches. In my defense, I have NO idea what labor is going to be like, so every new sensation has me wondering if this is "it", if the time has finally arrived. I wonder if gestational hypochondria is a “thing”?
CONFESSION #4: Carrying a baby is NOT easy (at least not for me). I have seen so many women sail through pregnancy - a glowing, walking billboard to future mothers everywhere: “This is easy. Pregnancy looks beautiful on everyone. I am the happiest I’ve ever been.” I am hereby suing such women for false advertising. ;-) I am not the glowing type (unless I’m sweating from the exertion of walking across the room) and can only claim happiness during every fifth mood swing. And no, I’m not experimenting with new makeup; those are natural black circles under my eyes from trying to sleep with a bowling ball strapped to my belly. Seriously though, it is hard. I am so beyond thankful for this miraculous experience, but I would be remiss in pretending that the years of longing for it have lessened its difficulty.
CONFESSION #5: I cannot even think of a word powerful enough to convey my desire to be the best mom I can be, but lately the thought of failure keeps me up at night. I know I will make mistakes. I know that at some point I will hear someone say, “When I have kids I/they will never…” while looking at me pointedly, judging me as I parent my child. I myself have done that very thing. I know that there will come a time when my precious daughter will declare her hatred for me over some unjust punishment I have decided upon. I don’t consider things like that to be failures. No, the things that make me toss and turn are much more complicated. Parents leave a legacy, whether they want to accept that responsibility or not. I just want to make sure I’m leaving a positive one. I don’t come from an affectionate family; my friends always like to joke about my disdain for being touched. Will she get the love and affection that she needs to feel valued and self-confident, not seeking validation from the things of this world? Education is one of the most important things to me…will she value it, try hard in school, share a love of learning? Or will it be a daily struggle just to do her homework, a fight over something I hold in such esteem? Will I be an example of a Godly woman that she aspires to be like someday? Or will I make so many mistakes that she vows NEVER to be like me instead? I know that these are things unforeseeable, and that all I can do is my best. I know I will be spending a lot of time on my knees during her childhood, praying not just for her, but perhaps more importantly, for the betterment of myself.
There you have it, just a few confessions from a nervous, excited, anxious, and sometimes irrational mom-to-be. I find it comforting that no matter how outrageous we think our feelings are, there is always someone somewhere experiencing the exact same thing. Hearing my thoughts echoed in the sentiment of another’s words is always comforting to me (and makes me feel a little more sane). Here’s hoping my thoughts will reassure another in the upcoming days.