Pregnancy has brought me more joy, humility and perspective that I'd ever imagined possible. I wouldn't change one minute of my experience for the world. Below is my list of life lessons pregnancy has allowed me to embrace.
1. Enjoy each and every meal.
These days, we spend so much time worrying about what's on our plates, we often forget to truly enjoy a meal. Was that lunch too many calories? Did I get enough omega-6 fatty acids? Many of us have transformed mealtime into “stress time." I too used to count grams of protein in my head, write down how many servings of greens I had each day, and note that perhaps I added too many walnuts to my salad. This act of preoccupation with our meals lessens our gratitude, enjoyment, and nourishment taken from this simple pleasure. What to do? To take a note from Michael Pollan: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.
2. Your body is smarter than you think it is.
Your body will tell you what it wants and needs. Listen to it when you need a quiet night in, a walk in the sun or an entire box of strawberries. (Or some dark chocolate!)
There are only so many hours in a day and pregnancy has a strange way of adding things to your to-do list. Paint the nursery, set up the crib that was shipped in 1,000 pieces, read week-by-week books on pregnancy and attend as many childbirth and parenting classes as possible. Don’t forget to email your friends and family pictures of your belly each month — oh and Grandma wants a copy of all of the sonogram pictures!
If you don’t take a step back and prioritize, you could feel overwhelmed. Remember that stress is unhealthy for both you and your baby. What to do? Pick what is truly important you to and let the rest go (really, it's OK).
4. It is OK to admit you that you just don’t have the energy.
If you're like me, you never want to admit that you're too tired to do X, Y or Z. Sleep is for the weak! Well, not so fast. Pregnancy has taught me that it's OK to be tired, to say no, to take a nap and to revise my to-do list according to what my body tells me. After all, what's the stress and sleep deprivation worth? Sometimes it's hard to admit to ourselves, but the truth is that we can only do so much in a day and taking care of ourselves should be our first priority, especially while pregnant.
5. You probably don’t love coffee as much as you think you do.
At many points in my life, I have decided to temporarily remove caffeine from my diet. I would make it one week before convincing myself that I would fail if I didn't get my hands on an Americano immediately. I was sure that I was hopelessly addicted. Then, I was given a rude awakening when I was diagnosed with PCOS.
As part of my journey through the management and reversal of this condition, I gave up coffee. Guess what? It was one of the easiest things I've ever done. It's funny how we convince ourselves that we can’t live without a certain vice, but when the situation is put into perspective, we don’t think twice about leaving it behind.
6. Your body fears will become welcome signs of your strength.
At 18 weeks, my belly “popped” and I went from wearing my favorite jeans to a very noticeable baby bump that demanded maternity pants. What I did not anticipate, however, was that it would also appear as if my backside was also growing a baby.
Not long ago, my new body would have prompted me to complete high intensity workouts on repeat all evening. Now, I love my new figure. I also don’t mind the swelling of my hands or the sore feet at the end of the day. Why? It reminds me that my body is preparing to give me the best gift I have ever received. And I don’t cringe at the sight of my emerging stretch marks. They'll be little tattoos that forever remind me of the most beautiful 9 months of my life.
7. Spend time with your partner, family and friends.
Even if you see those you love and enjoy the most all the time, embrace the opportunity to relax with good company. Remember, in a few short months, you won’t have this opportunity for quite a while. Savor it and do not, for one second, feel guilty for skipping the gym or leaving the vacuum in the closet.
8. Give your amazing body the credit it deserves.
In the span of 9 short months, you grow a human. Before delivery, your blood volume has increased 40%, your uterus is hundreds of times larger than preconception, you have grown a new organ, and the entire time, you haven’t even had to think about it! Your body literally creates miracles as you sleep.
Once I became pregnant and realized what my body was capable of, I gained respect for myself that no words could do justice. I wish I could take back all those times I looked in the mirror and wished something about my body was different. It is amazing just the way it is.
9. Set aside time to do whatever you want to do.
Stay in pajamas for a day and watch movies? Sit in the sun and read a book all afternoon? Bake cookies for nobody but yourself? Don’t think twice, just do it.
10. You're beautiful.
No explanation needed.
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