[NOTE: I believe all events are neutral, and through our beliefs, experiences, and values, we attach our own meaning to them. Therefore, when I talk about “hard/challenging/tough” times in this post, I’m referring to the things I’M choosing to label as hard/challenging/tough and when I’m talking to you, I encourage you to consider what YOU choose to label as hard/challenging/tough. I know that one person’s “challenging” is another person’s “deepest desire” and I’m certainly not assuming that we all have one shared experience of life.]
This morning, like a lot of mornings these days, I woke up feeling unrested, super swollen, and grumpy AF. I took the selfie above for myself (because I LOVE me some documentation!), but later decided to share it publicly. Why? Because pregnancy hasn’t been all boba & donuts for me (obviously that’s my version of rainbows & unicorns). And I’ve been doing my best to truly accept and honor my WHOLE experience over the past eight months – not just the “good” or “happy” stuff.
Here’s what I’ve been accepting: in pregnancy (and really, in life) it’s OK if I have hard days. It’s OK to not always be bubbling over with excitement about what’s happening in my body. It’s OK to be overcome with tears for no reason at all. And it’s OK to be overcome with tears for ALL the reasons. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to receive said help (without telling myself a story about how it makes me “weak” to want help). It’s OK to not want to “push through” the hard times or “suck it up” or “grin and bear it.” It’s OK to honor my ever-changing flow of energy. It’s OK to establish boundaries. And it’s OK to change them.
It’s all OK.
Having challenging moments, hours, days, or more doesn’t mean I’m “less than” someone else whose experience of pregnancy looked/looks different. Talking about my harder times doesn’t mean I love this sweet baby any less, nor does change how grateful I am to be pregnant. Being real about the lows hasn’t taken away from the highs. In fact, sharing openly with my loves about my WHOLE experience has helped to ground me in my authentic reality, instead of what I (or others) think my reality “should” be.
There seems to be an unspoken agreement amongst some of the women who have gone before me to not talk about the rough times and challenges that can accompany pregnancy. Or to brush them off and condescendingly speak to me about the tough times not being a big deal. They’re telling me stuff like, “it’s such a blessing and a miracle and you ‘should’ LOVE every moment of it” (and yes, one day I will post about the self-righteousness that underlies SHOULDs and I TOLD YOU SOs). Or “it’s not THAT bad, you just have to learn to deal with it.”
While I assume the people saying this stuff have the BEST of intentions (as I also assume people have when sharing generic platitudes and unsolicited advice)…at times I’ve been over here (in my super vulnerable state) feeling GUILTY for not loving anything from the feeling of someone seemingly setting my nips on fire to wanting to puke every other minute to feeling out of control of my emotions to waking up feeling exhausted after a night full of tiny feet using my ribcage as a tap dancing stage…because pregnancy is a MIRACLE, so it’s always THE BEST, and one who’s pregnant SHOULD NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT IT.
Here’s my point: not only is every single pregnancy different (they even vary for women who’ve had multiple pregnancies, I’ve heard), but each pregnancy is also EXPERIENCED differently… so there are a LOT of variables happening in this space. And for as much as people share about the magical and wonderful stuff (which I’ve DEFINITELY also experienced!), I think there’s still some subtle shame-y judgment if a pregnant woman shares fully about her experience and it isn’t all milk & cookies. Like it makes her less tough or less of a woman or less good at being pregnant.
So I’m sharing about it. Because staying silent about it isn’t helping anyone – if anything, my silence would only serve to potentially further isolate a woman in a time when she might already feel isolated (I sure as shit did at the beginning, and still weave in and out of feeling isolated to this day).
And if you’ve never had a “bad” or “hard” or “challenging” experience while pregnant – I think that is AMAZING and I am genuinely thrilled for you! I am in no way saying EVERY SINGLE WOMAN HAS HARD TIMES WHILE PREGNANT (again, because I think we’re in charge of how we label our experiences). I’m sharing my real-real with you because if you HAVE had or ARE having or DO have hard times… it’s OK. I encourage you to own and honor your whole experience, as opposed to judging some part of it as being “not OK.”
Your experience is your experience…and while I do believe we choose how we experience things, I also believe it’s allllllll OK, so long as we stay accountable for our own shiz.