Ah, the gift of life! A new baby is such a wonderful addition to the world. We all smile, spreading congratulatory messages and feeling eager to get a glimpse at their sweet little face. It seems like everyone in your circle becomes involved in the newborn bliss. The part of the journey that everyone is forgetting about? The almost ten-month-long process that gets us to this point: the pregnancy!
Pregnancy is a life-altering experience, and contrary to the myths of magical glows and luscious hair, it isn’t always a beautiful ride. Each pregnancy is different, and each expecting mother approaches it in her own way. You do not have to love your pregnancy to love your baby.
Not All Pregnancies are Blissful
Every pregnancy, and your reaction to it, is different. Pregnancy is an all-consuming and often overwhelming state of being for the person experiencing it. There are so many different circumstances that one could be involved in when they find out they are expecting. Some situations may not be flawless . . . and those conditions can greatly impact how you may feel about the pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean a less than ideal situation will equal less love for the child. Just like a seemingly idyllic situation doesn’t guarantee a blissful experience. You don’t have to love your pregnancy to love your baby.
In a culture that pushes the narrative that pregnancy is beautiful and a blessing that we need to be grateful for, it can feel like loving the experience is your only option. Women who complain about, or show any negative emotion towards their pregnancy, are often looked down on. These women are incorrectly labeled as “ungrateful” or “unappreciative” of the gift they have been given. It makes me think of something someone close to me said when I was venting about my children’s (lack of) sleep schedules. She said, “sure, it could be worse. But just because someone could have it worse doesn’t mean what you’re going through isn’t bad for you.”
In a world of oversharing and using our online platforms to (mostly) post our highlight reels, we feel the need to fit the mold. We see mothers doing it all . . . and they’re doing it all while pregnant. They look great. They feel blessed. We’re stuck wondering why we aren’t feeling all of the things they are. We question our nature. Do I not have a maternal instinct? We question our desire. Do I actually want this baby? We even go as far as questioning our ability. Will I be a good Mom? The solidarity we are searching for is there, though. We just have to dig beyond the flowers and into the dirt a bit.
Your Reasons for Disliking Pregnancy are Valid
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, an Obstetrician in Dallas, wrote a post discussing how she realized so many women experienced negative feelings towards their pregnancies. The reasons behind it mostly come down to common denominators that the mothers are experiencing. But the conversations just aren’t being had frequently enough.
Women who find out they are expecting are often feeling down about their symptoms (like morning sickness or gestational diabetes), shocked that they are pregnant (more than half of pregnancies are a surprise!), feeling uncertain about their situation (an unsettling feeling over the many risks possible), or having a hard time adjusting their lifestyle! All of these reasons are valid, and they fall within a sliding scale of emotional, physical, and financial ambiguity that can come with the news of a baby on the way.
Feeling Sick Affects Your Mood
“Nausea, nausea, go away . . . and please don’t come back another day!” may be the anthem you’ve been humming to yourself since day one of your pregnancy. More than 50% of women experience some form of morning sickness. And don’t be fooled! The name doesn’t always match the timeframe. It can be an all-day event, taking you well out of the first trimester even. It is no wonder that women have negative feelings towards a state of being when basic functions can be hard to manage.
The intense feeling of nausea, or even physically getting sick, can interfere with a woman’s day-to-day responsibilities. If she is spending the entire morning meeting in the bathroom at work or unable to gather herself up to get her other children to school, the last thing the world needs to be telling her to do is to be grateful. The misery she is experiencing does not correlate to her relationship with or feelings toward the child she is carrying. A mother does not have to keep her feelings to herself about an uncomfortable situation just to save face with a world that is already too scrutinizing of moms’ behaviors and choices.
Surprises Take Time to Welcome
A woman is expected to have it all. We sometimes feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. Maybe that’s because it is. We are the creators – the givers of every life to walk this earth. We solely handle the intense pressure of deciding when, how, and if we can and will start a family. How do we handle it if the decision is made for us?
Dr. Horsager-Boehrer says that over 50% of pregnancies are a surprise. Imagine how much scrutiny you would face if you told the world that it was an inconvenience or bad timing? The woman who admits that would be ridiculed, but she would be telling her truth. We need to realize that the important thing is offering support for someone who may not be thrilled they are having a baby at that time. It is absolutely possible and probable that, although she may need to take a moment to grieve the plan she may have had, she loves the baby she is carrying and will make the best possible choice for them. If I haven’t reminded you: you do not have to love your pregnancy to love your baby!
Sharing Your Body is Intense
Sharing your body with another human is scary. From the moment a woman finds out they are expecting, everything about her changes. Even if no one else can see it, it’s this intense paradigm shift – that only she is experiencing. Unfortunately, even in a planned and stable situation, there are huge reasons to feel anxious and overwhelmed with your pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic research shows that “10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.” Miscarriage is such a scary term, and women who have personal experiences with or know someone who has suffered a loss will have to face this fear every day until their baby is safe in their arms.
I remember specifically having to overpower my anxieties during my third pregnancy because it was not planned, and my mental state suffered a bit. It took weeks for us to tell anyone, and I felt very alone. One day, it clicked for my husband and me, and we slowly started leaking the news. My shift came with intense anxiety. I felt like the pregnancy wouldn’t last, like I was doomed to be facing the karma of my reaction. The pregnancy took a while to sink in, but that didn’t make me any less of a mother.
When they placed my third child on my chest, the love I felt was the same love I felt when they placed her sister and her brother there the years before. I didn’t love my pregnancy, but I absolutely adore my daughter. You do not have to love your pregnancy to love your baby.