“Oh my goodness, WHAT HAVE WE DONE”
There isn’t a bone in my body that isn’t happy that I’m pregnant (except perhaps the ones in my poor, squashed pelvis). But that doesn’t stop me feeling a bit panicked about the effect this decision will have on our life. So many of the things we can currently just do – go for dinner, bugger off on holiday, dance into the night at 28 weddings a year – are going to be either off the table or a much more complex process.
Parenthood will undoubtedly bring a world of joy and discovery like we’ve never known before too, and I can’t wait. But you’re still allowed to have moments to think “WOAH WE DID NOT FULL CONSIDER THE IMPACT THIS WOULD HAVE ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF COOL EATERIES,” too, I feel.
“It would be great if I could just not be pregnant for this hour/day/moment”
I am incredibly happy to be pregnant and grateful for the opportunity to have a child. That being said, the total takeover of your body is no small deal. Heartburn is a daily occurrence. My back hates me. My lower regions sometimes feel like they’re all just going to fall out. So it’s a bit tough and therefore inevitable that every now and then you wish you could have a brief break. That you had the option to pop your tummy and the baby down somewhere safe while you do the big shop or mop the floor without getting puffed out.
It’s worth every second of discomfort, of course, but it’s also OK to wish for the occasional bit of time off.
“What if my child thinks I’m a loser?”
I’m not scared that my baby won’t think I’m cool, I know they won’t think I’m cool. That’s the deal when you’re a parent, as I understand it. I just keep wondering what they’ll think about what I’ve done with my life. I have a terrifying vision of them being asked what their mother does and them saying “Well, she dicks about on the internet and talks a lot about writing, but I’m not sure if she’s really ever done anything.”
Every milestone makes us feel the need to assess whether we’ve lived a worthwhile life, so I guess it’s inevitable that pregnancy would do the same thing.
“But… we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing”
We didn’t have to take an exam to establish our abilities to look after another human being. We were free to get pregnant and then deal with the consequences. And it dawns on me a good few times a day – particularly at night when I’m definitely at my most rational – that we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. If parenting was just cuddles and saying “HELLO SAUSAGE!” into a baby’s face every few minutes, we’d have it nailed, but I hear there’s more to it than that.
Everybody I’ve spoken to about this says that everyone feels the same way, which is reassuring. Perhaps if every parent wore a badge that said “I am making all of this up as I go along” we’d all feel better.
“If I’m not careful, one of these days I’m just going to wet myself”
Our baby can now put more pressure on my bladder than I’m comfortable with. With one kick or punch, they’re able to test my pelvic floor more than any yoga or pilates class ever could. He or she enjoys challenging me at the most inconvenient times – in the middle of wedding ceremonies, in meetings, during my commute. I’ve managed to stay on top of it so far, but the risk of a sudden damp incident has never been so real.
“Perhaps it won’t hurt that much after all?”
At prenatal yoga, the teacher gets us into positions that’ll be particularly ‘helpful’ when giving birth. The problem is, I’m in such denial about ever having to give birth that I tell myself this doesn’t really apply to me. I know the baby’s in there – the sight of my slowly expanding stomach is a handy reminder – but their exit isn’t something I’ve faced up to yet.
I think it’s human nature when faced with a major feat to either catastrophise or naively assume it’ll be OK. And although I do not believe for a second that it’ll be anything other than the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, I can’t face that thought yet. Not properly. So, to help protect me from the truth, my brain keeps suggesting that maybe it’ll be all right. You know, not as bad as EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN THE WORLD says.
Could happen, guys. Could happen.
“Life would be so much easier if it was socially acceptable to just make whatever noise you need to, when you need to”
I can no longer put on shoes, sit in a chair, get out of bed, or lift anything whatsoever without groaning. My chest and throat are home to such levels of acid reflux that I could burp or hiccup or both at any moment. And what pregnancy does to an already fragile digestive system, well, let’s just say, it doesn’t make it more predictable.
So, for those of us juggling a world of unexpected occurrences within our bodies, life would be a lot simpler if we could just let all the sounds happen, without fear of funny looks/social exclusion. But alas, we do not live in such a society, so I save as many groans and throat-based surprises as I can for the comfort of my own home.
“I just don’t want to let anybody down”
Although you know you’re not doing it on your own, there’s no denying that physically being pregnant is very much a one person job. So it’s normal to feel the weight of that responsibility. And with that comes a fear that you’re somehow going to ‘do it wrong’ or let people down.
There’s only so much you can control, of course. You can look after yourself, read all the advice, and ask for help when you need it. But you’re just going to have to take it day by day and expect the unexpected.
Nonetheless, it’s only normal to be afraid and it’s healthy to admit how you feel. Acknowledging that something this life changing puts as much pressure on your mind as it does your womb can only help to make us all feel less alone.