I hated pregnancy. Loathed it. Despised it. I mean, sure, I loved wearing yoga pants every day for 40 weeks (more or less) but I was miserable trying to navigate the world in a body I no longer recognized. For nine or so months, during both my pregnancies, I groaned and complained over the loss of my bodily autonomy, wishing time would fast forward to postpartum life. There are things I wish my partner said to me about my pregnant body, too, and I can't help but think that those sentiments would have helped me appreciate everything my body was doing during two extremely different pregnancies. Maybe. I mean, his words couldn't hurt, right?
My pregnant body was not my favorite. Some women revel in the way their bellies expand, shamelessly enjoying that infamous "glow" and even appearing to be in good spirits until those contractions signal the end of their pregnancies. I'm not one of those women, though. Not even a little bit. While I am more than grateful to have experienced pregnancy not once, but twice — especially after enduring two pregnancy losses and years of infertility issues — I just wasn't prepared for how taxing growing another human being in your body truly is. I loved hearing my little one's heartbeat, but I didn't love the heartburn. I enjoyed the ability to make different food choices as often as I needed, but I hated the morning (read: all day) sickness that plagued me for months.
Basically my body was in ruin, and while my partner said complimentary and sweet things during my pregnancies, cute little sentiments weren't always what I wanted to hear. At a narcissistic time, where I needed a little more validation and for someone to simply listen to me, I wanted the truth. Instead of telling me I had the "glow" when I obviously didn't (it was hormonal sweat and acne) here are some things I wish my partner had said to me. Us pregnant women are badasses, you guys. We don't need to be coddled. We need to have someone give it to us straight, and in the following ways:
I wish my partner kept it real and told me that, yeah, everything was changing when I was pregnant, but for a very good reason. In fact, I had hoped and wished and put a lot of time and effort into one day feeling those changes. I needed some perspective, because while my feelings were very valid, I needed to remember that not every woman who wants to experience the annoying changes of pregnancy has the opportunity to do so.
"It Might Not Change Anything, But You're Beautiful No Matter What"
My partner never shied away from telling me how "beautiful" he thought I was when I was pregnant. He loved watching my body do something so incredible, but to be fair, he also loves me when my body does nothing but sit on a couch all day (although, for the life of me I can't remember the last time I was able to relax for an extended period of time).
I'd have loved to hear him acknowledge that hearing those words felt nice and stuff, but there's no way it could change the way I felt about myself. My own view of my pregnant body was distorted by all the awful symptoms I was experiencing day in and day out. Because I felt so unpleasant, it was nearly impossible to look in a mirror and see anything except how I felt inside. So yes, telling me I'm beautiful is nice, but maybe say that you know it won't change how I feel so I don't feel guilty when your words fall short.
"It's Supposed To Be This Way"
Every now and then, it probably would've helped to get a reality check from my loving partner. Something along the lines of interrupting all my complaining to remind me what pregnancy actually entails and how — after those losses and infertility issues — I should be thrilled with my pregnancy body. Ecstatic, even. There should've been minimal complaining because, at the core, I was having the baby I had wanted for years.
"You Can Wear All The Stretchable Clothes You Want"
I mean, it's not like I needed his permission. I'm a grown-ass woman and I can wear whatever I want. I was going to wear yoga pants every damn day of my pregnancy, regardless. But still, it would have been nice to have my partner validate my wardrobe choices so I didn't feel like I was being lazy or "letting myself go" or whatever insidious and pervasive feeling I've been taught, by society, to feel if I don't wear makeup and skin-tight jeans every day.
"I'll Miss It"
I knew I wasn't going to miss my pregnant body. I mean, maybe sometimes and especially when I wanted to keep my son inside my womb, all nice and safe, just so I could guarantee he was OK. But for the most part I was ready for my pregnancies to be over.
I do wish my partner told me that he'd miss my pregnant body, though, because then I wouldn't have felt so isolated during those strange times of wanting to hold on to my son in the womb just a little bit longer.
"Focus On The Baby"
It's hard to hear, but if I'm being honest I have to admit that I probably needed to hear it. My pregnant body wasn't really mine anymore. At least not entirely. Now my body had the job of nurturing my baby so that he, or she, would come into the world healthy. My partner never would've said that I needed to focus on our fetus, and not my feelings, because hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman pissed off. But the difficulties of pregnancy made it too easy to forget why I wanted to experience pregnancy and motherhood in the first place. I have a feeling I could have benefited from the perspective this sentiment would have provided me.
"I'm Sorry You Feel The Way You Do"
"Sorry" rarely fixes anything, but at least I would have known my partner was empathizing with my thoughts and feelings and aches and pains. Even when he couldn't fathom what I was going through, hearing the words could've transformed an awful day into one that was at least mildly bearable.
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