After the excitement of the at-home test results, the first doctor appointment, and sharing the news with our closest friends and family life as a mom-to-be was a bit more hard hitting. Reality started to set in and the realization that life as I know it is all about to change. Ready or not.
Every morning I would wake up and be like JESUS CHRIST WHAT IS THAT (a pimple, dimple, bump, patch of dry skin, dark circle, etc.). I felt so weird, my body felt so foreign, and I felt nervous that ANY AND EVERY decision I would make would unknowingly hurt my growing baby.
I spent the majority of my day for the first eight weeks riddled with anxiety, nervousness and breaking into a sweat at the drop of a hat. All of this probably sounds horrible to the average person, but I was quite used to this behavior as a type-A, overly obsessive and recovering perfectionist.
While pregnancy itself is really nerve wracking, I couldn’t tell what scared me more, pregnancy and labor, or having a newborn. A toddler. A FUCKING TEENAGER. Jesus, I was such a bitch when I was 15 years old. And SERIOUS QUESTION: how did I survive college after half the shit I pulled?! Oh god.
I came to one conclusion over and over again: I. Am. Not. Ready.
My husband and mother took turns talking me off the ledge until I came down, calmed down, and chilled the fuck out.
I finally looked myself in the mirror and told myself that something needed to change or the next 187 days would be miserable. And the last thing I wanted was to look back on this time and think, “I wish I did things differently.” Regret is such a powerful feeling, isn’t it?
I was entering a new normal and needed to accept a thing or two as a temporary reality that didn’t need to lead to some dramatic mental breakdown. Women have been doing this for hundreds and thousands of years. I’m not the first and sure as hell not the last. And while each pregnancy is different, I’m not the only chick to be feeling scared shitless.
At that moment I sat down and wrote down four affirmations to live by to find my peace of mind.
My Experiences Will be Unique to Me
When I found out I was pregnant, I spent hours on social media looking for blogs to read, experts to follow, and fitness influencers who were either pregnant or had been pregnant in the hope of finding some role models.
I strongly recommend AGAINST doing this.
I immediately formed all of these expectations about what should happen, and what I should be capable of doing. I watched fitness social influencers sprint on inclines, deadlift 3x their body weight, and feel stronger than ever. I scrolled past women posting tips on “belly only pregnancies,” posing with full faces of makeup, perfect beachy waves and four inch high heels.
Most days, I had to drag myself out bed. I avoided mirrors, my blowdryer, and makeup because I couldn’t stand up straight let alone pull myself together. My only goal for the day was to make it through. And that’s okay.
And then it clicked.
I was comparing my deepest and darkest moments to someone else’s highlight reel. No. Bueno. That’ll fuck ya right up.
One of my girlfriends said that the first trimester of pregnancy is about survival. Doing whatever you can to come out on the other side.
Affirmation #1: My experiences will be unique to me, and whatever they are will be right for me. I’ll handle whatever comes my way to the best of my ability, and that too will be right for me.
A New Normal
My morning sickness and food aversions were (in my mind) pretty severe. The only foods I could stand the thought of were bagels, Chex cereal, and buttered noodles. White food. Like, ugh.
One night I was crying to my husband over my “dinner,” claiming my carb consumption would be stored as sugars in my body and cause me to gain weight prematurely. Oh, also, crying over the lack of nutritional value I was providing bébé.
And then. He said it.
“You know, you’re in control, Kate.”
Did he just say, “You’re in control?”
I’M IN CONTROL?! The words hit me like a ton of bricks.
I certainly didn’t feel in control at all. I was at the mercy at whatever swing my body confronted put in front of me. I was beside myself that he could be so insensitive. Was he delusional? Was I delusional? What was happening?
And then it clicked.
My body will do things I can’t control. I’ll eat foods I don’t normally eat. I’ll sleep more than I usually sleep. And I’ll lack energy I used to have. And that’s okay. I may not know what’s happening, and neither will anyone else, but my body will know precisely what to do just as every woman’s body has miraculously known what to do to produce happy and healthy babies for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Affirmation #2: I will accept this time of my life as a new normal that will require patience and faith. That faith will give me the confidence I need to TRY to go with the flow.
It’s Okay to Be Sad, Anxious, Nervous and Forgetful
When I was 7-weeks pregnant, I broke out into tears watching a Pamper’s commercial. My best friend took longer than 5-minutes to text me back and I was in a full blown panic that something was wrong. One of my clients made a face (can you believe that? She made a face) in my class, and it took everything in me not to crumble into a pile of insecurity.
On top of nausea and exhaustion, the massive surge of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) have big effects on your mood. One second you’re happy. The next you’re sad. Then, the next moment, you’re worried.
- Can I afford this baby? Child care is like $27k A YEAR. Fahk.
- Will I get my body back?
- Will I ever be able to sleep in again?
- What if this kid is on drugs in high school? How will we deal with that?
- WILL MY LIBIDO EVER RETURN?! Ugh.
Another side effect of progesterone is forgetfulness, or “baby brain.” Which is kind of good comic relief for the emotional roller coaster you’ve boarded. One time I put my keys in the dryer. I put a bottle of wine in my husband’s office (he works from home, you’re welcome, Lemere). I’d forget to add MAJOR ingredients to any dish I was cooking or baking.
I was wearing my emotions on my sleeve and therefore was more reactive to EVERYTHING. After each melt down I would continue to spiral as I questioned, “What is wrong with me?!” I’d get upset all over again.
And then it clicked.
Under the mounds of hormones and emotions is my old self. It’s OK to cry and be sad, as long as you know where to place the feelings, and know that thankfully, it will pass. It’ll ALL pass.
Affirmation #3: I will acknowledge and accept my feelings as a normal part of this process. And then I’ll let them go.
Help You Help Yourself
There are a lot of up and downs during pregnancy, and while you cannot predict the swings, the ebbs, and the flows, you can choose how you react. In this temporary time, there are solutions and methods to find comfort mentally, physically and emotionally.
- Talk to other moms. Make new friends. Find a support group of people who can relate to you.
- Treat yourself. Don’t look at that second helping of dessert as a sin, but rather a reward you can enjoy and move on with your life. You’re working hard developing life. Do you think you’re going to look back on this time and think, “Fuck, I wish I didn’t eat that second donut.” Maybe. But I’m going to guess probably not.
- Seek help if and when you need it. IF you’re always feeling down, find a health care provider. You don’t have to live a joyless life, and some professionals can help you sort, identify and interpret your feelings if you can’t do so on your own.
- Remember that this is 10-months of your life where pain, emotion, and feeling will dissipate. And when it does you’ll be left with a beautiful baby and a happy, glowing, growing family. You won’t remember the struggle, and the reward of the end game will continue to bring you joy time and time again.
And then it clicked.
I meticulously monitor every mouthful of food that I consume. It’s exhausting, but I value the outcome. It’s a time in my life where I’m not counting calories. Albeit, I’m still eating healthy and mindfully, but there is a certain freedom that comes with this relaxed behavior that I can get behind. I know after I have the baby I’ll be back to my old ways, guns blazing to regain my old routine. Why not enjoy a little flexibility while I got it?
Affirmation #4: I choose to view the world through a new perspective and enjoy the benefits of a short-term lifestyle. I choose to find the silver lining when I struggle to see the big picture.
Just like anything in life, you cannot predict the course. You can only react and handle it. While some aspects will always be out of your control, you can choose your mindset which is always stronger than you think.