I’m an academic and a learner by nature. I enjoy reading and doing research. It helps my anxiety when I feel like I have done my due diligence and am well-versed on a topic or problem that pertains to what’s going on in my life.
Naturally, when I found out that we were expecting, I did what most scholars do–I hit the books. I’ve read and researched several different birthing methods and parenting styles from hypnobirthing to Montessori. I’ve read about breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, and all that’s inbetween. However, over the course of my pregnancy for the last six months, the most valuable information I’ve learned has been that which is not found in books. It is the information that one merely learns through experience, and I’d like to share what I’ve come to love and embrace about pregnancy.
1. The first 8 weeks are so hard.
I was beyond excited when I saw that faint line on the pregnancy test, but that excitement was quickly replaced by mass amounts of anxiety. I suddenly had a million questions. I didn’t know the first thing about being pregnant, and I didn’t really know where to start other than calling my OBGYN. I was so shocked and disappointed when I found out that after a blood test to confirm the pregnancy, I had to wait another six to eight weeks before I would have my first appointment and ultrasound. In my mind, so much could go wrong in those weeks, and I just wanted more reassurance that everything was going ok. It is so hard to not go down the rabbit hole of Google and to get caught up in forums about molar pregnancies, chemical pregnancies, and miscarriages. It’s also tough because you are likely hesitant to tell a bunch of people about the pregnancy, so you are sort of just waiting, alone, in this limbo. If you are newly pregnant and struggling with this early stage, know that you’re not alone, and have faith that everything will be okay!
2. It’s important to ask for help.
I’m still working on this one. Whether you have no morning sickness or are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, at some point during pregnancy you are going to need help. You will not be able to do everything on your own. Get used to leaning on others and letting them help you. Perhaps you need someone to watch your kids for an hour or two so you can take a much needed nap, or maybe you need people to help more around the house with cooking and cleaning. Sometimes you just feel like crap and can’t stop crying because of hormones and you just want someone to give you a hug. Whatever you need, it’s more than okay to ask for it.
3. Every pregnancy is unique.
Just like motherhood, pregnancy is not a contest. It doesn’t matter who gains less or more weight, who glows, or who looks and feels like a zombie. Growing a human is no easy feat and every woman’s body handles it differently. Even the same woman will have a different experience going from one pregnancy to the next. Know that whatever your pregnancy journey is, that it is your journey. Do your best to embrace it and all its wildness.
4. How you feel about pregnancy is no indication of the kind of mother you will be.
This one is HUGE. You do not have to love being pregnant in order to be a good mom. Let me say that again for the people in the back. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ENJOY PREGNANCY. Honestly, I absolutely hated being pregnant the first trimester, and there were definitely more than a few times when I told my husband that I felt like getting pregnant was a mistake and that I am never doing it again as I was throwing up for the millionth time. Did I mean it? Not necessarily. Did I truly feel like it in the moment? You betcha!
It’s easy to put pressure on yourself to tell people that you love being pregnant and that everything is glowy and blossoming and beautiful. However, if that’s not your reality, it’s fine! Pregnancy is so hard. Your hormones are going absolutely bonkers, your body is changing by leaps and bounds every single day. You’re tired, nauseous, nervous, confused–it’s a lot. But remember, how you feel about your pregnancy has nothing to do with the kind of mother that you’ll be. There are plenty of moms out there who absolutely loathe every minute of their pregnancies, but they’re some of the best moms I know.
5. Trust your gut.
The weight of unsolicited advice might outweigh the weight of your belly during pregnancy. There’s something about pregnancy and motherhood that just screams, “Give me your two cents even if I don’t ask for it.” While most of this advice (wanted or otherwise) comes from places of excitement and love, it can certainly be daunting. For first time moms it can also be difficult to figure out your own style and path with so many cooks in the kitchen. Know that at the end of the day, advice is just that–advice. You have the choice to take and leave what you will. Trust your gut. With pregnancy you’ve also gained a mother’s intuition. You’ll know what’s best for you, your body, your baby, and your lifestyle. Heed and ask for more advice that resonates with or intrigues you, and just smile and nod at the rest.
6. You don’t have to be “perfect” to be a good mother.
Before I got pregnant, I used to think that I had to have everything put together and it all figured out before I could become a mom. Now that I’m expecting, I’ve learned that that’s definitely not the case. You don’t have to have the perfect relationship, the house, the dream job, or the unwavering self-confidence to be a great mother. In fact, I would argue that it’s more important for children to see us stumble and model how to figure things out and navigate the realities of life rather than see us as fully cooked, well-polished, unrelatable humans. It’s okay if you’re still working on yourself. Truthfully, we should all always be working on ourselves. It’s your perseverance, integrity, and growth that matter the most.
7. You’ll never feel prepared.
I’ve officially read 9 books, taken two classes, and have signed up for two more before the baby is due. We have nearly purchased all of the newborn “essentials” and likely more than what we will ever need. I’ve reached out to fellow moms, the grandmothers, and even complete strangers to ask about pregnancy and motherhood. By anyone’s standards, I’ve done countless hours of preparation for this baby and still have three months to go. Do I feel prepared? Nope.
Becoming a mom for the first time is such a unique experience that it is really impossible to feel completely prepared. There is such a steep learning curve that can only be mastered by hands on, in the moment experience. If you don’t know how to do everything just yet, don’t worry because you’ll learn. Every mother is blind going into becoming a mother for the first time, and we all make it through just fine.
8. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s normal.
This is the God’s honest truth. Whatever you are feeling, thinking, experiencing, wondering, etc. it is 100% normal. There is no “right” way to go through pregnancy. Some women have an easy time and enjoy every minute. Others, like myself, are more anxious and find pregnancy to be merely a tolerable experience about 70% of the time or more. You do you, and it’s perfectly alright.