Even under the best of circumstances, pregnancy can be difficult. But when you're going through a particularly rough pregnancy, you're going to need all the physical and emotional support you can get. Words of affirmation can be just the buoy an expecting parent needs, so I asked moms to share the one thing someone said that helped them through a difficult pregnancy. In the end and always, the more we know the more we can help.
Compared to others, my pregnancies weren't terrible. They were, however pretty rough, especially my second. Between the nausea that lasted six months, the gestational diabetes, the insane swelling, the pressure of wanting to deliver VBAC, and the guilt of not being able to be as active as I usually was with my toddler, I was having a tough time coping.
"I'm sorry," I said. Constantly. For everything. (As women are, I will point out, sort of trained to do and internalize from a young age.) I was sorry the house wasn't perfectly clean. I was sorry I hadn't been up to cooking dinner. I was sorry I couldn't play with my son because I was throwing up. Enter my husband, who is generally pretty awesome but really stepped it up in the weeks I was gestating our daughter. "You have nothing to be sorry about," he'd reply. "You're growing a human. That's a lot of work."
That made me feel so much better. Not only did it assuage my guilt but it made me feel proud (not to mention even more in love with my dude). Eventually this was shortened to a simple and dismissive, "Growing a human," after every time I needlessly apologized. It made a bad situation and feelings bearable. Thankfully, other pregnant women had other people in their lives to offer them the same support, in the following ways:
"That I would be a great mom no matter the circumstances and I would always have their help and support. (I left the father halfway through my first pregnancy and was going to raise the child alone.)"
"I have a lot of anxiety and was almost always worried about losing my baby. The phrase, 'Today I am pregnant and I love this baby,' became my mantra."
"What you're feeling is valid and real ... After 8+ weeks of prodromal labor for four pregnancies in a row, it really did mean something to hear that... especially when explaining all my history to each new doctor or nurse."
"I had horrible morning sickness with my first two pregnancies but what made the second one near unbearable was the guilt of being too sick to be an active mom to my toddler. My best friend would always remind me that I was growing her a best friend for life, and she would never remember the hours, days, and weeks with the TV babysitting her while I hugged the toilet and dozed off on the couch."
"That it was OK to hate [being pregnant]. That didn't mean I hated my baby or wasn't fit to be a mother (which I had convinced myself was the case). Pregnancy just really sucks sometimes."
"Nothing was said. Just showing up and either crying with me or laughing with me or sitting and watching TV with me in the hospital was enough. I had to stay in the High Risk Maternity Ward for 10 long days and really the support, love, and concern of my friends and family made all the difference in the world."
"[My partner] told me severe nausea and vomiting was neural fertilizer for the baby brain. So, every time I had my head in the toilet (which was constant with [my hyperemesis gravidarum) I just kept thinking at least this is good for one of us!"
"After two years of infertility treatments, we were visiting family for the holidays. For the first time, I found myself having a hard time being around other people's children. One family, who had three kids, knew about our treatments, as well as our recent pregnancy loss. The wife had a lot of questions, both about the process and our experience. It was still so raw for me and I got upset and had to leave the room. I escaped to their bathroom and had a quiet cry. Then I pulled myself together, washed off my face, and emerged.
The husband caught up with me in the kitchen. He pulled me aside and told me, 'I know this is hard on you. But you will be parents, no matter how you get there. And when you are, you will discover that there is nothing like discovering the world again through your child's eyes, and it will all be worth it.' Those words stayed with me for the next two years, as we struggled with more treatments and more losses and finally an anxiety ridden full-term pregnancy. Nothing anyone else said to me over the four years resonated as deeply."
"My mom kept reminding me there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt so bad my entire pregnancy. She kept soothing me and saying everything I was suffering would end when I gave birth. It did! She came into the recovery room with a bottle of champagne."
"That I wasn't my mother and that everything I had learned not to do from her would make me a better parent to my child."
"I had a friend from church who'd had a high-risk pregnancy a few years earlier. She gave me an open invitation to call or pray with her whenever I felt nervous, any time of the night or day. It was comforting to have someone who shared my faith and knew exactly what I was going through. Even when I wasn't talking to her or praying with her, knowing she had my back was a huge comfort."
"I had to be induced a month early. [My daughter] was born and had some minor issues, but ultimately didn't have to be in the NICU or even stay in the hospital longer, so she came home with me. Someone said she must be doing so well because I took such good care of her while pregnant and that was so nice to hear."