When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of things no one talks about because they're taboo — experiences that can be embarrassing, feelings of guilt or shame for admitting various truths, or simply the desire to buck the conventional perception that bringing new life into this world must feel like a pure blessing the whole way through and nothing else.
But the truth is that there are many moments during pregnancy where I didn't feel like I was glowing. And that's OK.
From discovering the first trimester (or much longer) can feel like longest and worst hangover you've ever had to only wanting junk food for awhile to being woken by warped dreams every night, I found myself regularly asking friends, "Why doesn't anyone talk about this?!"
Other moms would respond, "Because you forget. The moment you hold that baby in your hands, all the pain feels worth it."
While those assertions may be true, I believe it's important to create an open dialogue about the realities of pregnancy, so those of us having an experience far from pleasant won't feel badly when we can't always place our hands on our belly and beam positivity from every pore.
Here are a few things I wish I had known prior to conceiving. My hope is that if you're having a pregnancy that's truly testing your limits, you'll know you're not alone.
1. It is hard to surrender, and that's OK.
It's hard to surrender to another soul, and to circumstances beyond your control. I went from being a completely independent active surfer and entrepreneur to becoming absolutely bedridden due to all-day sickness. I couldn't even get out of bed to feed myself.
This was tough: I had no idea that pregnancy would bring me to my knees, often literally in front of a toilet or, if I couldn't get to one in time, into a sink or out of my car window. I had to redefine everything I knew about myself, at least within the present moment.
I discovered that pregnancy is a very real opportunity to learn how to surrender because, quite honestly, a lot of things were now out of my control. (I couldn't even prevent myself from tinkling a little when I coughed, sneezed, or laughed because of the relaxin hormone now coursing through my body!)
By practicing saying "yes" when people offered help, I witnessed my community grow. And, letting myself receive rather than give led to profound and beneficial shifts in my relationships, even ones that were once challenging, as I experienced how willing others were to offer support, compassion, and love.
2. You're doing MORE than a full-time job.
Remember: you're creating a new human 24/7.
Given how sick I was, I could no longer work my job. Suddenly, I had to rely upon my savings and my husband to support us. While I am indeed very grateful he was both willing and able to do this, relying upon him challenged my sense of self-worth, especially since I've taken care of myself since I was 15 ½. Thankfully, he helped put things in perspective by saying, "You ARE working! You're creating a human 24/7!"
When I still worried that my career goals were slipping farther out of reach, my coach emphasized my husband's point: "You're being the most creative and productive you've ever been in your life right now!"
My career will always be there for me to pursue, but the experience of being pregnant, of creating life, is really temporary. Plus, as a giver and a go-getter, I was now in the midst of a great seva (being of service) by allowing a growing soul's needs to take precedence over mine. With patience and practice, I reframed my mind to move into my heart and discovered humility in a whole new way.
3. Sometimes "advice" from others can feel more hurtful than helpful.
While yogi friends suggested that I could manifest a different reality when I expressed the depths of mental and physical anguish I was suffering through, a nurse practitioner friend brought me to a sensible and comforting reality to complement my yogi friends' advice : "You can 'om' all you want honey, but your hormones are changing right now. That's a very real thing."
I knew all of the people in my life were simply trying to be as supportive, but sometimes feedback I got would create feelings of frustration. Sometimes I felt people were insinuating that I wasn't doing enough to care for myself or my baby (especially if the person giving advice hadn't been through pregnancy themselves).
And yet this reaction ultimately made me more accepting, both of myself and of others. I began to give myself permission to know that what I was going through was legitimate no matter what and that there were certain factors I simply couldn't pray or meditate my way out of. Pregnancy taught me that every human being truly has their own unique experience. By becoming more accepting of myself, I became more tolerant of others.
What I've written is simply from my personal experience, though many women have echoed similarities. Your pregnancy will be beautifully your own in whatever way that might look. If you have thoughts you'd like to share, please keep the conversation going in the comments below!