Pregnancy pt 2: The emotional/mental side of it all
I wrote a part one about pregnancy talking about finding out we were pregnant and my physical symptoms of pregnancy here. Today I’m writing to share about my emotional struggles through pregnancy and in full transparency, this was hard to write. I wrote it multiple times and structured it multiple ways that kept feeling wrong. Everyone’s experience with pregnancy is of course so different, and I’m not here to say that mine was worse than anyone else’s but my experience is all I’ve known, and I do want to just say it was HARD for me. I had a very difficult time and I haven’t been super transparent about it with people in my life so far and I want to be because I think that not finding people to relate to is a big part of what was hard for me.
To start, here’s a list of some wild things that life through at us during my pregnancy:
We adopted a puppy 2 weeks before finding out I was pregnant
One week after we found out, Travis got put on a project that required him to travel out of state Sunday night – Thursday night for three months
*This adds up to me taking care of a new puppy + commuting for work all week while sick in my first trimester and no one knew I was pregnant.)
I flew to Vegas for less than 72 hours with my best friend to see Lady Gaga in concert and she cancelled an hour before
I had unbearable tooth pain and had to get an emergency wisdom tooth extraction without being put under + with no pain killers
Covid – which resulted in no baby shower, no baby moon, a cancelled girls weekend trip, having to go to all my remaining appointments alone, my mom’s flight to come out for the birth was cancelled pretty much seeing no one my entire third trimester
It’s so strange to think back on now that the world has changed so much due to Covid. My wisdom tooth extraction was crazy (maybe a story for another day!), but it happened a few days before our state started stay at home guidelines, so Travis and I pretty much forgot about it until I was listing these things out.
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a mom. I’ve always dreamed about having a family and I have three younger brothers, so I’ve always had a maternal aspect to my personality. So often people talk about how excited they are and how much they can’t wait to meet their baby as soon as they find out their pregnant and I have to be honest, that didn’t happen to me. I was happy of course, I wanted to be pregnant, but it really didn’t feel real to me. I’ve said before that I think the craziness of what life was throwing at us distracted me from it, but I really don’t know if I would have felt differently if things were different. In the beginning I felt for so long that it wasn’t real, even through all the morning sickness and after going in for an ultrasound it just wasn’t clicking for me. For some reason it felt like the day the baby would be born was never going to come – which, ha! It sort of didn’t since I had to go through induction and a c-section (I wrote about labor & delivery here).
Through pregnancy and motherhood so far, I’ve often gotten in cycles of feeling a certain way and then feeling guilty about those feelings and beating myself up about it. I cried to Travis so many times telling him “I don’t feel like a mom and everyone else says they do the minute they get pregnant”, and then I would feel guilty for being upset when I was having a successful and healthy pregnancy and so many people don’t get that. I just felt like I was already failing at being a mom. A lot of people close to me don’t have kids so I felt like they wouldn’t understand, but I think I felt too guilty and ashamed of being sad and not feeling maternal to tell anyone anyway. I tried to focus on things that I thought would help me “feel like a mom”, like working on the nursery and celebrating at my baby shower… then Covid hit.
When Covid changed everything, I was angry. I was so angry, I felt like I was being robbed of so much. Honestly, I’m still angry about it. My best friends and family barely saw me pregnant. No one but us felt our baby kick. I didn’t get to celebrate with my friends. Travis didn’t get to come to all my appointments with me. We didn’t get to take birthing classes. We didn’t get to have our baby moon. People say have date nights before the baby comes, we couldn’t even go to restaurants. We didn’t get to have our family at the hospital with us or at home with us after. It all felt SO UNFAIR. But then I felt guilty again because Covid was killing people, and what on earth was I crying about? I’ve talked about this in therapy since and my therapist told me that there are so many different types of grief in life and you do have to grieve the idea and expectation of things not going the way you plan. I’ve also had to constantly remind myself that everyone’s problems are relative to them. I was angry when I saw my friends complaining about cancelled birthday dinners when I was going through all of this thinking, “Your birthday happens every year, get over it!” But then I was upset about a cancelled baby shower when people couldn’t see their dying parents. So, I have had to continuously remind myself that it’s okay that people are upset about their birthday and it’s okay that I was upset about my baby shower.
What was the craziest thing for me to wrap my mind around was how incredibly isolated and lonely I felt throughout pregnancy, when I literally had another human growing inside of me and therefore physically wasn’t alone at all. Pregnancy is amazing and what our bodies can do is beautiful, but I don’t feel like I was emotionally or mentally prepared at all for what I was going through. People talk about the physical symptoms often, and postpartum depression and anxiety is talked about much more now, but I almost never hear people be open about the hard feelings during pregnancy. I feel like there’s a huge pressure to be excited and overjoyed to be having a baby, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned in pregnancy and motherhood is that it is possible AND NORMAL to hold extreme happy and sad emotions in your heart at the same time. I’m still trying to reconcile holding those extreme emotions at the same time, but I can at least tell myself now that it’s okay.
Another thing that was and is hard for me is that in most of my friendships and relationships I’m the instigator, the planner, the one who reaches out more and I’ve always been fine with that and taken that role on naturally. I never realized about myself that I’m not great at asking people for emotional or mental support, but it turns out I am because I’ve found myself hurt and upset that people in my life aren’t checking on me or reaching out more and that’s where it stops. I haven’t spoken my needs to them and I haven’t figured out why. I think that all of my emotions and hormones through this has made me feel for the first time in my life like I want to be taken care of without having to ask, but that isn’t naturally who I am so why would people assume that of me all of a sudden? I wish I had a good lesson learned here to tie this up in a bow, but my goal is to be honest and this is something I haven’t figured out yet.
Since the enneagram is so hot right now, I’ve also learned that I’m an 8 and a big part of being an 8 is that you’re independent and like to be in control of your life and now there’s this little human that I love so much but he’s been controlling so much of my life for the past year that it’s really overwhelming. Pregnancy and motherhood so far has taught me so much about myself and I’m actively working on processing and learning from so many new things.
The handful of things I’ve shared on this blog and through my Instagram about pregnancy and motherhood have led to connecting with some people in my life that I haven’t talked to in a long time and it’s been such a surprising blessing. My main goal in sharing these things is to help myself process it and to possibly help anyone else learn or find connection from it since I felt so lacking in that area. I hope that if you’ve read all of this you gained something and you feel comfortable enough to reach out to me if you want to connect.