Courtesy Reaca Pearl

7 Ways My Pregnancy Actually Helped Me Feel Empowered

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I'll be completely honest, pregnancy empowered me. While I don't want to romanticizing pregnancy, nor do I want to criticize people who didn't feel empowered when they were growing humans inside their bodies, I do want to be honest and explain all the ways my pregnancy actually helped me feel empowered. Like, for the months it took to grow my babies, I was emboldened AF.

That's definitely not to say I didn't have the swollen feet, nausea, discomfort, and exhaustion that usually accompanies gestation. It's just to say that even with all of those things, there were so many times that pregnancy connected me to a power I had within myself that I never even knew existed. Well, maybe I had some idea it was there, but pregnancy definitely highlighted that power in a way, perhaps, nothing else could.

My pregnancies, all six of them, each had tidbits of juicy, uterus-operated empowerment that were heretofore unknown to me. Was I rejuvenized by pregnancy because I had grown up with a feminist-warrior (mostly) single mother who always said she loved being pregnant? Was it because, except for two brief years of my 20s, I was super excited to be pregnant for most of my life? Was it because, without consciously thinking about it, I was instinctively in absolute awe of the body's power to create and hold life for 40 weeks, give or take two? Who the hell knows, honestly. All I know is pregnancy actually empowered me, and that empowerment never went away.

When It Was My Choice

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Thankfully I live in a state that respects a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, at least when it comes to reproductive choice. In fact, choice of any kind is always empowering. For example, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was asked, "You want to know the sex?" My answer? Nope.

When I was pregnant with my first miscarriage that wouldn't come out on it's own, I was asked, "You want to wait or have a dilation and curettage (D&C)?" My answer? D&C, please, and thank you. When I didn't want medication, I chose not to have medication. When I wanted a beautiful epidural during labor and delivery, I chose to have an epidural.

My body. My choice. My empowerment.

When I Talked To Other Pregnant People

Contrary to popular belief, talking to strangers used to be an incredible struggle for me. I was painfully anxious. In my first serving job, when I was 17 years old, I would sweat through clothes and vomit in the bathroom before shifts, paralyzed by my fear of approaching tables full of strangers.

That is, until I was pregnant. All of a sudden I could make easy conversation with any other pregnant person I came into contact with. I no longer agonized over what or how to say. I just talked. This must be what true extroverts felt like.

When I Loved My Body

Courtesy Reaca Pearl

With three kids it's hard to remember life before parenthood. However, I'm almost positive I hated my body for the first 28 years of my life. Somewhere between 28 and 29 years old, when I was pregnant, I fell in love. See above.

When I Felt Connected

Connection is a big deal for me, dear reader. I love feeling connected and being connected to people and places around me. The more bulbous my bump became the more connected I felt to everything. I was connected to the earth, to millions of mothers before me, to every pregnant person I saw, to my own body in ways that had never been safe before, and to the little nibbling alien growing inside of me.

When I Stood Up For Myself

Courtesy Reaca Pearl

At my childhood best friend's wedding in July 2009, I was seven months pregnant. It was outside. In Texas. Did I mention it was July in Texas!? Her soon-to-be sister-in-law was offended that I was the maid-of-honor, so she balked when we asked her to arrange the train of the wedding dress instead of me.

"If you couldn't do the job you shouldn't have taken the job," or something along those lines, was spat in my painfully pregnant, painfully swollen direction on rehearsal day. I graciously, yet pointedly, reminded her that being a maid-of-honor had more to do with years in the trenches of friendship, than the happenstance of her brother falling in love with my best friend. That asking a hugely pregnant woman with edema to bend over in front of 300 wedding guests, in over 100 degree heat, a million percent humidity, and vertigo, was bordering on cruel.

Or maybe my response wasn't so gracious. Either way, she arranged the train.

When I Listened To My Body

Honestly, how often are we trained as people, and socialized as women, to listen to ourselves? Like, never. We're taught that emotions are weak, bodies are not as smart as the brains, and that having a uterus automatically means you suffer from hysteria. I had been on the journey to listening to my body for several years before becoming pregnant, but pregnancy empowered me to never apologize to others for listening to my body.

When I Had No More F*cks

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When I was pregnant I didn't care. The more pregnant I got, the less I cared, too. I'm not talking about important stuff. I still cared about the people I loved, my health, and my career. However, I no longer cared about the bullsh*t.

I didn't care about what anyone thought about me or my needs for the first time in my life. It was so refreshing. I don't know if it was simply the fact that my body was using all my energy for creating a human, and had none left over to give any f*cks, but I have to tell you that being pregnant allowed me to have no f*cks in a way I had never previously experienced.

The bonus? Giving birth did not give me those same f*cks back, either. I've had three live births and three miscarriages. I'm pretty sure I'm officially forever all out of f*cks and it's simply the most freeing and empowering thing in the world.