For so much of my life I dreamed about being pregnant, having a baby, and being a mom. I somewhat idealized these notions, much like I did about romance (thank you Disney movies), and now that I am 30 weeks pregnant, here are "10 Things I Didn't Expect about Expecting":
- Growing a baby is tough.
- Being pregnant is uncomfortable.
- Being pregnant can quickly become your identity.
- You become part of a special pregnant club.
- You may be surprised be some of the emotions you have (not related to pregnancy hormones).
- Pregnancy flies by and crawls at the same time.
- That early on "bump" is not actually a bump.
- You were skinnier than you thought you were.
- You are going to be a mom.
- You get it.
Number One. I laugh at myself for this "surprise," but I honestly didn't realize how tough growing a baby would be. It takes up extra energy like an app that is always running in the background on your phone (and yes, I guess I just compared my baby to a phone app).
Number Two. Again, I feel ridiculous saying it, but I never realized that pregnancy was uncomfortable. I've seen pregnant women waddle, watched them struggle to get up from a chair, and seen how big their bellies can get, but it never really dawned on me that being pregnant can be so uncomfortable. Apparently, all the extra weight and the big belly make lots of things more uncomfortable and challenging, and, turns out, having something kick your insides, use your bladder like a trampoline, and nestle up by your ribs doesn't feel so great.
Number Three. I participated in my first instagram challenge during the beginning of my second trimester. It was a challenge designed specifically for pregnant women. As a result of that challenge, I connected with many other pregnant yogis on instagram and started using instagram to post yoga pictures on a regular basis. Quickly, I found myself identifying as a pregnant yogi. Not just a yogi, but a pregnant yogi.
I'm embarrassed to say it, but being a "pregnant yogi" made me more okay with my shortcomings. It's okay to say I can't do a particular pose because I'm pregnant, but I might hide those same limitations normally. I'm still trying to work this one out. I don't want to hide my growth areas. We all have them and I think it is dangerous to put forth "perfect" images of ourselves. It gives an inaccurate, and unattainable image that others may seek to reach.
I can blame my forgetfulness on pregnancy brain, I can attribute my clumsiness to pregnancy balance, I can credit growing a baby for my fatigue. When others look at me, they see a pregnant person. My identity is now that of a pregnant woman, and all that entails. I don't have the answer to "fix" this, but I feel it's important to note as something I noticed about my pregnant self that I didn't expect.
Number Four. I have often felt like an outsider in life. I've never really been on the inner circle or had a special group or club in which I felt wholeheartedly included. Now, however, I am part of this secret pregnancy society that I didn't know existed. In forums online, on instagram, and in real life, I have connected with pregnant women and am immediately part of the club. I didn't have to do or prove anything other than be pregnant. It's actually kind of cool. I've even reconnected with people I haven't talked to in years because we are pregnant at the same time.
Number Five. Pregnancy has made me selfish. Henry is MY baby. Right now he is inside of me and I don't have to fight anyone for him. No one is trying to hold him or take him from me or give him advice. No one is stealing his attention or love. All he knows is me. All he needs is me. Soon I will have to share him with the world. Don't get me wrong, I know how blessed I am (and he is) to have so many people who love him and care for him already. The fact that everyone is so excited for him to get here means he will grow up in a world filled with immense love and I am exceptionally grateful for that. But, there is part of me that doesn't want to share him. There is part of me that wants to keep him as just mine forever. I want to keep him safe and protected and with me at all times.
Number Six. I think this applies to time in general, but it definitely applies to pregnancy. Time plays tricks on you. On one hand I feel like I just keep getting bigger and bigger and increasingly uncomfortable with no end in sight. On the other hand, I am shocked when I hear that people are already expecting in November. I'm a new bumper, how did that happen!? Also, I found that hitting 30 weeks set off this panic (for lack of a better word) feel. All of a sudden 30 weeks sounds so close to 40 weeks and I feel like I need to be ready and prepared and know things that I definitely don't know. Like anytime, some weeks move faster than others, but the crazy part about pregnancy is that each week is numbered. Two weeks doesn't sound like that much, but two weeks marks the different between 28 weeks pregnant and 30 weeks pregnant, and that eels like a big difference.
Number Seven. I look back and laugh at the "bump" pictures I took early on. I've taken a picture every week (which I highly suggest), but I also took some midweek pictures when I thought I looked particularly pregnant. Turns out I didn't look pregnant at all.
Here I am thinking I looked pregnant in the first trimester...
And, again in the second trimester...
Number Eight. I have always been harder on myself and my body than I/it deserve/s. I have never acted on my thoughts, but have had an eating disorder mentality at many times in my life. I rarely appreciated the beauty of my body and acknowledged how thin and fit I truly was. Now that I am growing on a daily basis, I can look back at these pre-pregnancy pictures and see that I was thinner than I ever really recognized.
Number Nine. Turns out you are not going to be pregnant forever, and at the end of your pregnancy, you will have a baby!!! Okay, I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes it hits me and surprises me. When you get wrapped up in this world of pregnancy, your due date can kind of feel like the finish line of a race. When I get there, I will have completed it. Nope. When I get there, I will be given a baby and a whole new "race" starts. I am both excited and terrified at the same time. I have to trust that Henry was chosen to be my son, and I was chosen to be Henry's mom. We were put together for a reason and I am capable.
Number Ten. All of a sudden, it makes sense why everyone needs to share their experience and advice with you. Why your mother-in-law still treats your husband like a baby. How much your mom really loves you. It all makes sense. These women have all carried a baby, and they have experienced something that not everyone gets to. It's uncomfortable and frightening, anxiety-producing and amazing, unbelievable and miraculous all at the same time. It teaches you about love on a new level. It makes you feel bonded with other mothers. And, in spite of all the challenges that accompany it, it truly is incredible.