Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Actually, I'm Glad I Didn't Know How Hard Pregnancy Would Be

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When I became pregnant for the first time, I really hadn’t given much thought to what the process of pregnancy would be like. I figured, because I was young and healthy, that carrying a baby would be no big deal. Women do it all the time, right? Pregnancy makes you glow. You get to feel a baby kicking inside you (fun!). You might be a little tired or a little nauseous for a few weeks, but overall I figured there was nothing to worry about until the big day of giving birth. When it came right down to it, I didn’t know how hard pregnancy would be — at all.

If I had, I probably wouldn’t have decided to get pregnant during my senior year of college while taking some of my most rigorous coursework. I most definitely would not have chosen to sit next to the girl who ate some very pungent yogurt every afternoon during a notoriously difficult journalism class with a professor who was very strict about permanent seating. To be honest, if I had really known how hard pregnancy would be, especially at that juncture in my life, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have chosen to have a baby in the first place.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

No one warned me about what pregnancy would really be like. No one told me that it wouldn’t be anywhere near the sweet and endearing vision I had built up in my mind while I perused the Pottery Barn website, designing a nursery that was way out of my budget, while waiting for the first available moment I would be able to pee on a pregnancy test stick.

I hadn’t realized how dependent I would become on my partner, and how trying it would be on both our academic careers, our jobs, and our relationship. I hadn’t expected the mood swings to be so severe or for my anxiety to ramp up so quickly. I hadn’t expected to need him every small step of the way.

I had no idea that morning sickness would consume nearly every hour of my day, not only for the first trimester but for nearly five months. I had no idea that I wouldn’t be able to look at posters of certain cuisine without wanting to vomit; that walking past the mall food court to work would cause my stomach to churn, or that I gladly would have thrown up more often if it would have given me a break from the constant nausea; that sitting next to someone eating yogurt would constitute a form of strange and awful torture.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I had no idea that the fatigue would overwhelm me, turning my already ho-hum social life into a thing that was completely nonexistent. I didn’t know how hard it would be to stay awake through my classes or how difficult I would find it to even drag myself out of bed in the morning for my easy, one-credit yoga class. I hadn’t thought about how fueling myself solely with Kraft macaroni and cheese and potstickers would affect my energy level. I really hadn’t thought about how insanely long it would take me to waddle across campus between back-to-back classes, or how unimpressed certain professors would be with the fact that I was only five minutes late when I had to walk up three flights of stairs in my third trimester.

I hadn’t realized how dependent I would become on my partner, and how trying it would be on both our academic careers, our jobs, and our relationship. I hadn’t expected the mood swings to be so severe or for my anxiety to ramp up so quickly. I hadn’t expected to need him every small step of the way, but I absolutely did. I wanted him at every appointment. I dragged him to not one, not two, but three false alarms at the hospital before I finally had the baby, on finals day, of course.

I wouldn’t have known the strength I had within me if I hadn’t experienced it firsthand, and most importantly, I wouldn’t have had a son who absolutely lights up my life.
Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

While I may have immediately looked back and said I wish someone had told me how hard it was going to be, in the end the truth is I’m kind of glad I was a bit unprepared. I’m glad I didn’t know how hard pregnancy would be, because I would have been scared away from it entirely. In fact, going through it once was enough to scare me away for good (but fortunately for me, my second child was a surprise that led me to see how wrong I was in that assumption).

Had I known how hard pregnancy would be, I wouldn’t have trusted myself to endure through those difficult months — even though I was fully capable of doing it all. I wouldn’t have known the strength I had within me if I hadn’t experienced it firsthand, and most importantly, I wouldn’t have had a son who absolutely lights up my life if I hadn’t taken that ill-advised plunge into motherhood. It’s a good thing I couldn’t understand how hard it would be, because I couldn’t fathom how worth it pregnancy was back then either.