Pregnancy and the Stuff They Don’t Tell You
My experience (so far) on navigating my way through pregnancy as a first time mom.
Recently, life has been consumed by sleep, stress, joy, anxiety, reading (too much reading), making big and small life decisions based on what to eat, or better yet not eat, reviewing and researching every product I buy or consume or even come into close contact with, figuring out a birth plan, choosing a baby name, decorating a nursery, and so on.
I am now at my half-way mark at around 20 weeks and it still hadn’t really hit me yet how real this all is until recently. It’s a weird feeling to grow another life inside of you. At first it doesn’t seem real. In the beginning stages of pregnancy, all that you can really think about is how tired and sick you feel and how paranoid you are about every little thing that you put into your body mostly due to the overwhelming amount of information that is out there on the do’s and don’ts before, during, and after pregnancy. Literally everything matters now. Not just avoiding the obvious risks like tobacco, alcohol, recreational and OTC drugs, but even just the simple daily routine stuff like face creams, cleaning products, cleaning your cats litter box or the temperature of your bath. It’s absolutely mind boggling how quickly you are forced to adjust your lifestyle pretty much over night after you discover you are expecting a little one. Luckily (or unluckily) I am on this adventure during an age when information is there and readily available. I’m still not convinced whether that’s a pro or a con at this point. I am guilty of using Dr. Google probably way too much and more often than I should and going down one too many rabbit holes. Pregnancy can be terrifying and traumatizing in many ways and I don’t feel like enough women talk about that openly. All you tend to see and hear on SM is about how beautiful pregnancy is with the majority of negative press going to labour. I’m here to say — it’s not always like that and in fact most of my days since finding out I was pregnant are full of fear, worry, bizarre body changes topped off with a ton of anxiety and the more prepared you are for that if you are going into pregnancy, the better.
We should all give women a break considering the lengths we go through just to keep the human race alive.
My first big pregnancy scare came during my anatomy ultrasound last week when the technician had a hard time getting baby to cooperate so she could get a thorough and proper image of the heart. Because of this, the technician said that they weren’t able to 100% guarantee my husband and I that everything was developing as it should and we’d need further testing. Now – as a FTM, coming up on the halfway mark of pregnancy and heading into an anatomy scan, this is the most devastating news to try and process regardless of the odds given (which actually weren’t that bad). I think that typically, women go into these appointments with a positive mind frame and a few nerves but mostly just excitement to see baby, learn the gender (if chosen) and to hear those reassuring words that everything is developing perfectly, so when you receive news like this, for me anyway, I was shattered. This little fetus that I have been nurturing and loving for the past 5 months and making all sorts of sacrifices for, might not be okay.
As someone who has been responsible for carrying this fetus from day 1, doing everything possible to give her or him the best odds and opportunities to grow into a healthy little human, I couldn’t help but immediately blame myself and spiral into a dark hole of Google, guilt and grief. What if the baby doesn’t make it and I am the reason? What if there is something seriously wrong and it’s something that I have caused? I reassure myself that I have been living a healthy and unselfish lifestyle for the past 5 months yet I immediately blamed myself. I think as women in general we are taught from a young age that when things don’t go right it is automatically our fault and we feel immense responsibility and pressure to try and fix it and many of us carry that burden throughout our entire lives. It’s a toxic and difficult pattern to change that way of thinking. But what if you are already doing your best and it’s still not good enough? I try to practice being mindful and real with myself but sometimes the dark side inevitably takes over. Sometimes all that we can do is continue to try our best and hope that everything works out in our favour which is where I find myself now.
Pregnancy is such a trip. One day you go from being one single and individual entity to the next day suddenly becoming this sort of host for another living being and with that comes a lot of pressure to do well and succeed. People treat you differently and suddenly expect more from you. If you thought comparing yourself to your peers on social media was painstaking before, get ready because its about to reach a whole new level. I actually deleted my Facebook app today. I suggest trying it if you are feeling any sort of negative way about SM, pregnant or not. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with everyone and everything. Everyone seems to have the best answers according to them and as a FTM, all you are really looking for is the best answer. I am trying really hard to just trust my instincts which has got me this far in life, but when a baby enters the equation its almost like you start doubting your own self. Things I would have been sure about before suddenly require 8 hours of research, repeatedly weighing positives and negatives.
Some of the less commonly talked about body changes should be more “out there”, too. No one ever warned me that I could lose my teeth, my gums would bleed or that my body would start randomly discharging strange fluids and smells at an excessive and alarming rate, but apparently according to Dr. Google thats just what happens. Also, the fact that there are all of these products out there that are extremely toxic to pregnant and nursing women and fetuses without any warning labels on them is absurd to me. Is it really that hard to add an extra line at the bottom of the label warning us gals that we shouldn’t be using this product during pregnancy or while nursing? Seems like a fairly easy solution to avoid miscarriages and severe birth defects later on. I wonder, if the roles were reversed and it were men who carried children to term in the womb, just how differently modern day society would be. I can’t help but feel that it’s just another attack on women in this mans world that we’re all still existing in. I read a pretty interesting article the other day about birthing options. Apparently giving birth on your back is one of the worst and most challenging and painful ways to try and deliver a baby. It’s actually far easier to deliver in a squatting position or while on all fours but because it was men who predominantly delivered children back in the early days, they decided collectively that the less visual way of delivering a baby would be best, so they decided women would give birth on their backs while covered with a sheet. Oh yeah! And sexism and discrimination still fully exists in the workplace. I say that speaking from my own personal experience and from reading experiences of fellow mamas in various online support groups that I am apart of. So be prepared to have less opportunities available to you in the workplace the closer you are to childbearing years, and even less if you do decide to get pregnant. To my own disbelief and dismay I was actually asked during a job interview earlier this year about my family plans. It is 2021.
I realize that it may sound like I am knocking pregnancy but I assure you that I am in no way trying to do that. I just feel that more women should be open and honest about the various ups and downs that come along with being pregnant. I actually love being pregnant. It has changed me in weird ways that are hard to describe but definitely for the better. I feel like more of an empowered woman now than I ever have before during these past 5 months and pregnancy is a really beautiful thing to experience. I recognize how amazing my body is and how incredible of an adventure that this is, and how lucky I am. Many women who can’t give birth would give everything just to get pregnant and I don’t take that for granted for one single second. Being pregnant has brought me closer to my partner which I didn’t even realize was possible. It is also transforming the way that I see things and view the world. It has made me more grateful than ever for where I am in life and has brought me a lot of gratitude. I feel like I am finally at peace, even through the chaos.