A big surprise with my pregnancy has been how lonely it can feel. I’m lucky to have a great support system in place which includes my husband, family, friends—one of whom is due just two weeks before me—my obstetrician, and even a birth companion. Yet I still get bogged down with tears and feel like I have nowhere to turn at times. Raging pregnancy hormones are partially to blame for this, but the very real fact remains that each pregnancy is different. Yes, you’ll hear that from every corner, but truer words have never been spoken.
After the initial excitement of the good news settles down, other, less thrilling feelings surface. Being pregnant for the first time and not knowing what to expect is unnerving no matter what. Add to this the wide margin of what’s considered “normal,” and you have a recipe for a very anxious mom-to-be.
Every time I noticed any new pregnancy symptoms popping up, I’d turn to Doctor Google first (a blessing and a curse in the Internet Age), which proved not only unhelpful, but almost always made my anxiety worse. I’ve wasted countless insomniac hours torturing myself by looking up whether the baby was moving too much or too little—only to find out that there is no right answer since (you guessed it) each pregnancy is different.
I also noticed that, quite naturally, women tend to forget their pregnancies once they become mothers. Friends with babies and toddlers checked in regularly and lent me their ears, but were largely dismissive of my pregnancy woes as they had different worries on their minds now, like breastfeeding and potty-training. Ultimately, I grew uncomfortable turning to these busy moms for my middle-of-the-night crazies.
My family is sweet and supportive, but in their eagerness to keep me calm they inadvertently made me feel inadequate for having any anxieties at all. And my OB, while wildly competent and trustworthy, like many medical doctors, isn’t exactly known for always being empathetic.
At this point you’re probably rolling your eyes and you’ve decided I’m the type of fragile person who constantly needs her hand held, or is terrified of everything. But that’s just it—I am not that person at all. Or rather, I was never that person until I got pregnant. Some would say, “WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD—this is only the beginning.” But I still feel more comfortable blaming it on the hormones.
Pregnant women are under enormous pressure to constantly appear elated and happy. They are often made to feel as though their other, less uplifting emotions aren’t valid, or as if they shouldn’t even be having them at all. This puts additional strain on their bodies, which are already carrying so much. So, next time you encounter a pregnant lady, instead of bombarding her with assumptions of how happy she must be, place a gentle hand on her shoulder and allow her to tell you how she actually feels.