When I reflect on my current pregnancy, the immortal words of Charles Dickens come to mind; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
For example, one morning I leave the house in my best maternity outfit, patting my adorable belly with pride and self-congratulations for “putting myself together.” The next day I’m chatting on the phone with a fork in the carton of Breyers when the doorbell rings and I realize I have not yet put on pants or a bra. And it’s already noon. The example is purely hypothetical, of course, but if that sounds like you, know that you are not the only one.
Some days I feel like a superhero because of everything I can accomplish with that “nesting instinct,” which injects me with Wonder Woman-like energy. The very next day I’m nearly paralyzed with fatigue, succumbing to the irresistible call from my comfy couch. You say you do the same thing? Oh, you’re normal.
If the food you ate yesterday looked like something from a Healthy Living magazine but by ten o’clock this morning you have finished the dwindling box of pop-tarts and you are eyeing that bag of chocolate chips – you are normal.
Most women are going to experience a lot of ups and downs while pregnant.
Life’s highs and lows become more pronounced when during pregnancy due to increased hormonal, physical and chemical stresses on your body and mind. This is normal. There is nothing wrong with you for having good days and bad days and for those feeling more intense than they did before you were pregnant. It’s all part of the wonderful package deal involved in bringing another person into this world. Know that you are doing a great job.
Maintaining my equilibrium when so much of my body and lifestyle is changing has proved challenging. But as I have made efforts to take some of the self-induced pressures off, I have found that I am better able to avoid discouragement and to feel good about my pregnant self. The following practices may prove helpful for you too.
Let go of your pre-pregnancy expectations of yourself.
This one is huge for me. I consistently find myself trying to do things the way I did before I was pregnant: wanting to work-out like I did before, squeeze a million errands into one day, or conquer all the household projects and tasks on a deadline. Holding myself to my pre-pregnancy standards leads me to feel consistently disappointed and discouraged. I am learning to let go and accept what I can do each day, feeling grateful that I can do it.
Tonight, after a long day running around town with the kids, I knew I needed to turn in early for the night. But there was so much on my to-do list for after the kids were in bed! I whined for a minute to my husband about how hard it is for me to slow down sometimes. He then put it to me plainly as he said with a smile, “Well, suck it up and slow down. You are six months pregnant. You need to rest.” I felt grateful for the reminder and chose to listen to my body that night.
Re-evaluating what is most important every day often requires that I look beyond my “to-do” list. I know that taking care of myself, the baby inside of me, and my two toddlers are my biggest priorities. Sometimes this means trading in busy-ness and check-lists for more regular naps and relax time. Slowing down allows me to tend to the most important things and feel more satisfied with my day, even when other tasks are postponed or left undone.
Embrace the yin and the yang.
A recent visit to a friend’s home taught me the importance of embracing the less than perfect parts of family life. When I arrived for our play date there were clothes strewn across the floor and dishes piled in her kitchen sink. She was visibly weary and exhausted and her kids were running around wildly. And you know what? Seeing her reality liberated me. She had not spent hours polishing her home and grooming her kids so that all would look perfect when I arrived. No, she allowed me to be a part of her real life – the raw, imperfect and glorious reality of family life. The genuine nature of the visit touched me.
I realized that lately I have felt embarrassed to have people come over because my house has often looked raw and lived-in. Since becoming pregnant I have struggled to maintain my home to a polished, presentable level that I feel comfortable letting others see. So I simply didn’t let others see it. The day after I visited my friend, a girlfriend who is also pregnant stopped by. While I may not have previously invited her in because of the messes lurking inside, I recalled my visit the day before and decided to embrace the situation.
When my friend entered and saw the messy reality of that day, she told me how validated she felt in her own struggles with housekeeping while pregnant. We found ourselves talking about the highs and lows of motherhood – embracing it, acknowledging both the struggle and the effort. It was an incredibly healing experience for both of us. So, while I still love the times I’ve managed to whip my house into shape, I accept the days when it is untidy despite my best efforts. I am learning to be ok with myself on those days.
We’ve got to remember that our bodies are doing an incredible work growing a human.
It’s no wonder we feel so exhausted. Thankfully neither you nor I will be pregnant forever. I like to remind myself that when this little one arrives, these beautiful and challenging nine months will have been 100% worth it.
Allison Maselli believes in pursuing lifelong learning and adventure. Her greatest adventure so far is building a world with her husband for her three energetic cherubs. Any day you might find her trying out a new ? sourdough recipe, flailing her limbs in a family dance party, or reading for herself or to her kiddos. Follow her on facebook to catch what she writes for different sites around the web.