“We’re trying!” she said to me with a glorious smile on her face. My friend and her husband were about to embark on a whole new chapter in their lives: parenthood. After hugs and screams, she looked at me seriously and said, “What’s it like being pregnant? Is it hard?”
It was then that words escaped me. What should I say? How much should I divulge? How could I tell her this may very well be the most difficult thing she will do with her body, ever?
The Unspoken Rule
The unspoken rule among women has long been to keep the magic alive for hopeful soon-to-be pregnant women. The “magic” being a slight bend of the pregnancy truths. Because no-one in their right mind would be game for the tortures that potentially come from being pregnant. The heartburn, backpain, hemorrhoids, not to mention the nausea and sleepless nights long before baby is born. And once baby has arrived, your body is a stranger to you. You no longer know it, and that relationship might last for a while.
I looked at her and said “It’s wonderful! I loved being pregnant!”. I wasn’t lying.
So how is it that, many years later, I can look back and have both feelings towards pregnancy, with the more positive memories at the forefront?
It’s simple, really. The outcome outweighed the difficult nine months before my babies were born.
But if I had the chance (cough, cough, now) to chat with a friend and honestly express the reality versus the expectation, this is what I would want her to know.
Be excited! And more…
This is going to be a roller coaster of emotions, so when you feel excited, ride that emotion as long as you can. But please, please do not feel expected to be excited all the time. Roller coasters have ups and downs, and this is going to be the biggest ride you have ever been on. The expectation to always feel happy isn’t realistic. The reality is, you will be all over the place with your emotions, and that doesn’t make you less of a new-mama-to-be. You can have all the feelings – in fact, you absolutely will.
Anxiety will be ever-present
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be rosy and positive the whole nine months. That isn’t fair to you. The reality is that it’s impossible to chill when you know there is a little human growing inside you. How anxious you become fully depends on your character, and how you handle stress and the unknown. Many expectant mamas refuse to read pregnancy books. These are the mamas who would be too anxious to find out detailed information about every single symptom and development. I was the complete opposite. As a natural researcher, I read all the books, especially when I was pregnant with twins. Arming myself with information was my way of calming any nervousness I had.
Take a selfie, when you want to
Expecting to feel cute the whole nine months? Expecting to post all your OOTDs on Instagram as your belly grows? Oh girl, this expectation might be my least favourite. While I was pregnant, I did not – I repeat, DID NOT – have a smart phone and Instagram was not around yet. I have some pictures of my growing belly and moments where, yeah, I felt cute. But if I had placed the expectation on myself to look that way every day for nine months, I would have gone through some severe self-loathing. Some mamas deal with melasma, or patches of dark skin on their face. The last thing you need to do is put on a full face of makeup just to feel ok with yourself and an IG picture. Find a social media balance that works for you and don’t feel you need to document every day. I loved my days in sweatpants and old t-shirts with my hair in a bun. And I loved not taking pictures of that!
You will want to shop for maternity clothes
During my pregnancies, there were only a handful of shops where I could buy maternity clothes. And thanks to my ever-growing belly and the time of year it was, I needed something in almost every size, for every season. I was gifted pieces from my mama, who wanted to spoil me. We went shopping a few times for outfits, a swimsuit and a formal dress for my sister’s wedding. That said, my choices were limited, so I only bought what was necessary. Now, the choices are never-ending, and it is really easy to get excited about maternity wear with all the cute options. I mean, it’s nine months – you want to look nice and feel comfortable. But keep this in mind when shopping: after your pregnancy, your body changes yet again and for a while after, maternity clothes are still the only things you can wear. So, when you do finally fit your pre-pregnancy clothes, you will never, never, want to see your maternity clothes again. Expectations to get a full wardrobe might run high, but the reality is if you purchase classic colours and fits, you will be happier with them longer (and maybe for another pregnancy, too).
You will want to shop for baby
Do it! Have fun! If something calls out to you, it will remain a very special gift to your baby for years to come. However, if the expectation is to purchase all the baby clothes and toys suggested on a baby registry, resist. There are only a handful of items that my boys absolutely loved and played with. And as much as cool gadgets and fun toys will entice you, the reality is that most of those items will rarely, if ever, get used. Stick to the basics; they will probably be the favourite items you can’t live without. A great diaper bag, a convenient baby bottle, high quality breastfeeding pump – these are some essentials. It is likely that friends will shower you will gifts, so if you have the option of creating your own baby registry, be sure to include essentials and classics. You will have many months ahead to choose other items, if need be. And when it comes to baby clothes, take my advice: find soft, easy-to-put-on basics. Zippers are a nightmare and make too much noise for a sleeping babe. (You’re welcome.)
Be Empowered, Not Afraid
I hope this friendly and real advice has shed a light on pregnancy without scaring you off. I used to think that reading pregnancy magazines was tough for some pregnant mamas, but it’s much harder to deal with perfect social media posts popping up on your phone. I’m grateful I didn’t have that virtual expectation with me during my pregnancies. Pregnancy IS beautiful and amazing and full of joy. But it’s not staged and you will not have a crew around you to filter you to the nines.
This is a time in your life you’ll cherish, so it’s worth investing your energy in the moments that are real, important and meaningful. Relish this nesting period to help you in your next big adventure. And yes, it is all worth it.
When you meet your baby for the first time, all expectations are met, for real. ❤️
Julia a.k.a. Mama MOE was a freelance fashion writer before she had three wonderful children (one plus twins). Her blog, Ask Mama MOE, is all about living a family-friendly life and ranges in topics. Always in a positive tone, Ask Mama MOE is a great place for some parenting humour, DIY crafts, recipes and some deep thoughts. Reviews and giveaways are also done on products Mama MOE herself would be proud to use in her home. Be sure to check out Mama MOE’s charity, Shopping From The Heart.