My 14-year-old daughter is currently obsessed with the idea of being a mom. She talks about it day and night. To say she has it planned to the last detail would be an understatement. While I’m so proud that I haven’t put her off motherhood, her excitement certainly revives pangs of guilt about how much I hated being pregnant with each of my two children.
My first pregnancy was meticulously planned. I wanted my child to be the oldest in their year to ensure they would not struggle academically, and this dictated all the actions necessary to conceive a child. Quite surprisingly, my husband and I turned out to be amazing at this reproduction thing and conceived in our first month.
When the excitement is short lived
While this pregnancy was very much planned, I won’t forget the shock and horror of my dear significant other when I presented him with that stick with the two lines, an ear-to-ear grin plastered on my face. I was so proud of how good we were at making babies. He didn’t seem to share my joy, going instead into a sulk and disappearing upstairs for a few hours. I later dragged it out of him-it wasn’t because we were having a baby but because he’d have to order a more conservative family wagon instead of the new soft-top sports car he coveted. Priorities, huh?
My excitement was out of control for the first few weeks. I bought every single baby and parenting magazine, accumulated baby name books, and demanded that we go to the baby shop on that first weekend to start looking at things we’d need. I was going to be a mama, and I wanted it to be perfect!
The excitement was short-lived as the overwhelming reality set in along with the realization of how tenuous life is. Counting the days until the “all will be fine” 12-week mark quickly became my primary focus, followed closely by frequent visits to the bathroom to throw up. Not only could this pregnancy be doomed before it even began, but it was making me extremely sick, too.
I hardly knew what day of the week it was. To make things even worse, I didn’t look pregnant, and I certainly wasn’t glowing. This was not how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to glow and lovingly cradle the little belly that was so beautifully forming. Instead, I was covered in horrific pregnancy acne, and every part of my body ached. All completely normal, as my ever-so-caring midwife kept telling me.
Dealing with overwhelming and ongoing worries and dramas
The 12th week came and went, but my anxiety about the viability of the pregnancy didn’t subside. Around every corner, there seemed to be yet another drama and something else to worry about. The second trimester was as much of a blur as the first and equally unpleasant.
While my other pregnant friends were blooming, I was still crippled with:
- Hyperemesis gravidarum
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Breech presentation
- Perinatal depression
- A general level of anxiety about being pregnant
I was so envious of my friends, who were “loving every minute” and talked about feeling so connected to the baby.
Is it okay not to enjoy my pregnancy?
In all honesty, I was distraught over feeling no connection to this little human growing inside me. It bothered me so much that I had a very frank conversation with my midwife about this lack of connectedness and how much I hated being pregnant.
To my absolute relief and surprise, she assured me that my feelings were absolutely normal. She took the time to explain that many mothers-to-be do not “glow, feel connected to, or love” their unborn child. As I learned from her, many women hate being pregnant, so I was not alone. She took the time to carefully listen to my worries and fears, assuring me that these feelings were completely normal.
I’ll never forget her kindness as she explained that it wasn’t uncommon and that while some expectant moms enjoyed every minute of being pregnant, there were some who struggled, like me. She was spot on in saying that two things make us respond emotionally: a tragedy during the pregnancy or after the birth. That conversation was so important and reassuring for me because it gave me hope that everything would be okay. Most importantly, she was right.
The pregnancy guilt trips will pass
I must have been the most miserable expectant mother to meet! People would tell me how well I looked, which resulted in their receiving a rather long-winded and detailed breakdown of every ailment I had endured while pregnant. I could tell them how long I’d been pregnant for down to the minute and give them the percentage of my life pregnancy had controlled.
No, I definitely wasn’t a glowing mother-to-be. Still, my misery certainly didn’t prevent me from purchasing everything our baby could and would need. I suspect I felt normal in choosing cots, strollers, and changing tables and deciding whether to use cloth diapers or not. Even the most hardened soul softens when folding tiny vests and socks.
These brief moments of feeling like a normal mother-to-be provided relief from the guilt that consumed me over not enjoying my pregnancy.
As a mum of two now, I can assure you that my midwife was right. My firstborn was delivered by cesarean under general anesthesia due to my pregnancy anxieties. Coming round from the anesthetic and staring down at my gorgeous teeny tiny human bundle, I remember being overcome with love and defiantly saying to my husband, “Thank God I’m not pregnant anymore!” I think he agreed.
Pregnancy made me feel unhappy and revolting, and I don’t want to be pregnant ever again. However, disliking pregnancy has taught me to be gentle with expectant moms. I don’t tell them how wonderful they look; instead, I ask how they are feeling. I don’t lecture them on the joys of parenting, but choose to chat to them about themselves or offer a kind shoulder to lean on.
If you’re that expectant mom who hates every minute of it, remember that you are not alone. It’s okay to feel guilty, angry, and resentful, but it’s also important to talk about your feelings and get support. Remember the talk I had with my midwife? She turned out to be my savior and a person I knew I could rely on throughout my pregnancy.