40 Weeks: A Reflection on Pregnancy and Six Lessons I’ve Learned - Baby Chick
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40 Weeks: A Reflection on Pregnancy and Six Lessons I’ve Learned

A Reflection on Pregnancy: As I reflect on the last 40 weeks of my pregnancy, I've learned 6 key lessons about myself and motherhood.

Published October 11, 2017 Opinion

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

Today is my estimated due date (EDD). I am officially 40 weeks pregnant. Where has the time gone? And why do I still not have a baby in my arms?! Sometimes, it feels like it’s taken forever to get to this point (especially this final month of pregnancy), but other times, it feels like it wasn’t that long ago when I first found out we were pregnant. And now that I have reached full term, I am reflecting on these 40 weeks of pregnancy. These nine months have taught me several key lessons about myself and motherhood. Here’s my reflection on pregnancy.

Lesson 1: A Mother’s Body Is Incredible. We Should Appreciate Them More

Society is so hard on us when it comes to our bodies because of all the altered images we’ve seen through the media. These ridiculous and often unrealistic opinions cause us to be extremely hard on ourselves about our physical appearance. “We need to be a certain size, look a certain way, never get stretch marks or have loose skin, immediately be in your pre-pregnancy clothes after birth, etc.” These thoughts are unrealistic, but why do we secretly put that pressure on ourselves? Why do we allow ourselves to fall into this trap?

We all have been self-critical about our appearance at some point, but I have to say that I have never felt more beautiful or confident in my body than during my pregnancy. This is when my hips are supposed to open and get wider. It means that I’m comfortably carrying my baby and making a good pathway for his birth. It’s when my belly is supposed to be round. I don’t need to suck in. It means I’m creating a safe “home” for our baby to grow. My breasts are supposed to get big. They are preparing the perfect food to nourish our baby and help him thrive.

Women’s Bodies Are Truly Incredible

Of course, there are moments—especially now at 40 weeks pregnant—when I can’t wait to “have my body back.” The swollen feet and legs, carpal tunnel, stretch marks, weight gain, etc., can be a lot to handle. But then I remember the miracle I am a part of and that not every woman is blessed to have this experience. And I remember that it’s all totally worth it.

Lesson 2: Learn and Practice Self-Love

Something that I’ve had to work on as I’ve approached the end of my pregnancy is self-love. Yes, I’ve never felt more confident in my body, but I haven’t loved every moment as I’ve watched it grow. (Especially when people stop to ask me if I’m sure I’m not carrying twins . . .) Like the day I realized I was getting stretch marks on my stomach. When I noticed them forming, I silently screamed in my head and began to freak out. The funny thing is I’ve always told my clients and other mothers, “Those aren’t stretch marks. They are your tiger stripes. Beauty marks. They represent the woman and mother you have grown into today and the little miracle you brought into this world.”

I truly believe this when I say this to my clients and friends, but why am I so supportive of them and their incredible bodies but not myself? Why do I let mainstream media and vanity poison my thoughts but completely defend the beauty marks of other mothers?

Truthfully, I think that it’s normal. I think we are all hardest on ourselves. It’s natural. But it’s something that we need to work on and change. We need to practice more self-love.

Reflecting on my pregnancy, I try to remind myself every day that this is a beautiful stage of life. It’s a stage that will only last for a little while with this baby. I remind myself that God and this baby chose me to be his mother, and what a blessing that is. I remind myself that I should be so thankful that my body can grow and nourish a healthy baby and mommy. And I remind myself that I am not only growing a baby but also growing into the new me. A better me. A mother to this baby. And that is pretty awesome.

Lesson 3: The Demands Will Only Get More Demanding

I don’t know about you, but during my pregnancy, I feel like I have sooo much to do to get everything right. In your third trimester, you are supposed to:

It may not sound like a lot to some of you, but it takes up a huge chunk of the day. By the time I finish all these things, half of the day will be over, and I still have work to do. Because I work full-time, I feel like I’m failing at completing all of these pregnancy to-do items. This is when the guilt sets in. Now I’m afraid that if I don’t have the birth I want, it’ll be because I didn’t make the time to do all of these things every day. I might think to myself, “Maybe you didn’t try hard enough. Do enough. You don’t love your baby enough because you didn’t make the time.”

Of Course, None of That Is True

It couldn’t be farther from the truth because we all do our best at the end of the day. And when I look at the whole picture and reflect on pregnancy, I realize this is just the beginning of my new life. My new job. Being a mom. 🙂 These are the demands that baby is making now during my pregnancy, but there will be new demands that I will need to adjust to and do once baby is here. And it will be even more demanding. So this is just a warm-up! These things prepare me for what is to come and show me that life is no longer just about me, work, or what I want. Because very soon it’s about to change to:

And all of this will be done on very little sleep. I will have to do this while continuing to work full-time, keeping my dogs alive, keeping my marriage strong, etc. But the good thing is I know that I am not alone. I am not the only mother with all this on her plate. And I know that I can always ask for help.

All of these demands are our new normal. Motherhood is more than a full-time job, so we must give ourselves a little grace throughout the process.

Lesson 4: Get Used to the Unsolicited Advice and Comments

During your pregnancy, you will hear everyone’s opinions about everything. I know I have. Even when I didn’t ask for it. You will hear about their pregnancies, their birth experiences (mainly bad ones), their thoughts on your pregnancy, what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, and more. Some of it is helpful, but most of it isn’t. And I have learned that these unsolicited “words of wisdom” will never stop now that I am becoming a parent. Now, I will hear all about how I should parent my child, comments about breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, sleep training, the “right way” of disciplining kids, what to do and what not to do to have a happy and successful kid, and so much more.

Depending on what that person is saying, you can either take it in and apply it or completely dismiss it altogether. It’s up to you. Just smile and nod and say, “Thank you for sharing.” I’ve been doing the same thing throughout my pregnancy. Ultimately, you know what is best for your body, birth, baby, and family. Listen to your gut and blow off the rest.

Lesson 5: The Worrying Has Only Begun

I’m currently stressing and worrying about whether I’ve done enough to grow a healthy and happy baby. “Am I eating good enough? Should I feel bad for not working out more? Should I do more squats? Eat more dates? Practice more relaxation techniques?” Every expecting mom wants to know that she has done a good job growing a healthy baby.

Then you start worrying about whether you will be a good enough mother when they get here. Will you be patient? Have you done enough research? Have you prepared yourself enough? All of this worrying can be exhausting. But here’s a little secret . . . once you’re a mother—from the moment you become pregnant—the worrying never stops. Soon, I’ll worry about whether my son is hitting his milestones, if he’s happy, healthy, safe, making friends, making the right choices, etc.

In the future, I’m sure I’ll be up at night worrying about if he is safe at a party, if he likes college, and if he is getting his heart broken. Worrying is part of the job. And if you’re worrying, it means that you’re a loving and concerned parent. And if you weren’t worrying about your child and their well-being, I’d be worried about you.

Lesson 6: Try to Be Patient and Appreciate Every Moment

Throughout my pregnancy, there was always something that I was excited about and couldn’t wait for. For example, reaching the second trimester so we could tell family and friends, finding out the gender of our baby, and now it’s waiting to meet our baby. Each milestone gets more exciting, and each one becomes more and more difficult for me to be patient. Especially when you feel like you’ve been pregnant forever and want to meet your baby sooo badly. But patience is key. Soon enough, the baby will be teaching you plenty of patience, so practicing your patience now is good.

I know there will be other things I can’t wait for in the future, like when my son first smiles, his first laugh, when he can sleep through the night, sit up, talk, and walk. But we have to stop and remember to enjoy the journey. We need to learn how to be patient and not rush through life waiting for the next milestone to happen. Not every day will be perfect—that’s for sure—but these are the moments (pregnancy and motherhood) that we will look back on fondly and sometimes miss. So enjoy every step of the way and soak it all in. Because before we know it, it will be gone in a flash.

I’m reminding myself of this now as I am 40 weeks and reflecting on pregnancy. This is the last time it will just be me and my husband—the two of us. I need to stop rushing through this stage of life and instead be patient and appreciate it for what it is. 🙂

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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