When I found out I was pregnant for the very first time I thought growing a human being was going to be a magical experience. I mean, yes, I knew there were downsides (i.e. morning sickness and stretch marks) but I had no clue what I was really in for. In fact, I felt like I had been lied to by perfect images of pregnant women that hide how truly exhausting pregnancy can be. It’s not always beautiful, let me tell you.
Us pregnant women want you to know how bad pregnancy can be, but whenever we speak up someone will tell us to be grateful, suck it up, or that it can't be "that bad" and we must be hormonal or dramatic. But I don't want to sugarcoat things, no matter how quick someone is to dismiss my feelings and my experience. So honestly? Pregnancy sucks sometimes. When you are exhausted, nauseated, sore, depressed, or generally not having a good time, pregnancy doesn't feel like a "blessing." And I think we should acknowledge that fact without being made to feel guilty or like we're destined to become bad mothers.
So when people asked me how I was feeling when I was pregnant I felt like I was in a lose-lose situation. I could lie, and perpetuate the idea that pregnancy is always beautiful, or I could tell the truth and hear someone downplay my feelings or tell me I should just be grateful. But you don’t have to be happy to be pregnant, and you don’t have to like the loss of your complete bodily autonomy in order be a good mom. You are allowed to feel the entirety of human emotions about your pregnancy, to not enjoy the experience, and to complain about it.
You Don't Have To Be Happy About Your Pregnancy
I really think we ought to get past the idea that people have to feel happy, grateful, or any other positive emotion the entire time they're pregnant.
When people say things like "you really should just feel grateful you can even get pregnant," it demonstrates at total lack of empathy on their part. You don't have to be happy about it, and even if you are happy about being pregnant you don't have to enjoy the experience 100 percent of the time. You should be allowed to say that without apologizing, being told to suck it up, or that "it's not too bad," because that is some gaslighting nonsense right there.
It's OK If You Hate Being Pregnant
Pregnancy stock images don't show the reality of pregnancy, or any of the side effects and symptoms that go along with it. From morning sickness, exhaustion, pain, hormones, to varicose veins on your vulva, hemorrhoids, excessive sweating, and lightning-like pain in your vagina, pregnancy isn't comfortable my friends. You don't have to pretend to like it. And you can even hate being pregnant. It's OK.
Morning Sickness Is No Joke
I guess one could accurately describe morning sickness as like a really bad hangover... if that hangover lasted for months, could change the way you view your body, and could put your health at risk.
Actually, it’s not really like a hangover at all, so people really should stop saying that it is
Pregnancy hurt in so many unexpected ways. My back hurt from the weight of my growing belly. My butt hurt from sciatica. My pelvis felt like it was going to split in half. My feet and legs swelled. I got carpal tunnel in my wrists, which made them ache. I felt lightning pain in my freaking vagina. Pregnancy is painful, my friends, and it's time we take those pains seriously.
Pregnancy Is Exhausting
The first trimester of pregnancy is exhausting. I fell asleep everywhere, including but certainly not limited to: at work, on the couch, and once while sitting in traffic. it sort of makes sense when you think about the fact that your baby is like vampire sucking the life out of you. It really upsets people when I say that for some reason, though.
Your Self-Esteem Might Suffer
As an eating disorder survivor, watching my body change during pregnancy was a nightmare. I felt so out of control about my weight and watching the number on the scale rise, even when I ate right and exercised. It really damaged my self-esteem. Afterwards, people expect you to bounce back right away, as if you didn't spend months growing a human inside your body. It's been over a year since my last baby was born, and I still haven't recovered emotionally or physically from childbirth.
You Need To Find A Provider You Can Trust
You’ve got to find an obstetrics provider you can trust. There is so much misinformation on the internet about the right and wrong way to grow and birth your baby. It’s overwhelming. Don’t let it scare you, though. Instead, find a provider willing to help you sort through the muck and who won’t shame you for wanting the kind of birth that works for you.
People Might Treat You Like You're Made Of Glass
In my experience, a visible pregnancy meant that people thought I could no longer do anything by myself. I heard the patronizing phrase, "Are you sure you should be doing that?" at least once a day. So, I was simultaneously supposed to suck it up when it comes to pregnancy symptoms, but then also get the side-eye if I dared to reach for a bag of chips on the top shelf or went to the gym.
You need to be honest with yourself, and with your OB-GYN or midwife, about what you are feeling. If you don't say anything, you won't get the help you need. Don't think you'll bother them with a phone call about a weird symptom, or a question about which meds you can take for your nausea or allergies. They have probably heard everything before and, besides, it’s literally their job to help you get through your pregnancy. They can’t do that if you aren’t honest.
You Might Beg For It To Be Over
There is no shame in wanting your pregnancy to be over towards the end. While it officially only lasts 12 weeks (give or take) the third trimester feels like it lasts years. People will tell you to wait it out, or that your baby will come when they are ready, but guys, my babies seemed to never be ready. It sucked when I was tired and in pain, and people actually had the nerve to tell me to "just be patient" or "enjoy it." WTAF? If I had any other painful medical condition there's no way that people would tell me to "trust my body" or "just wait it out."