I was never going to post a photo of my pregnancy.
I was never going to write a single word about it, at least not until I had a healthy baby in my arms.
I asked myself why.
I’m not the reserved type. I share a lot on Social Media because that’s the kind of person I am. I love expressing myself with photos and words and stories because they keep me connected and grounded. It definitely wasn’t the fact that I’m reserved therefore, which kept me back from sharing anything at first. Until I realised what it was.
So I wouldn’t have to share the bad news if it comes. So no one would know.
And I get that – truly. Because I’ve been through something close enough to hit home. Because it’s easy to open up about the good news, but it’s incredibly hard to share the bad.
1. Being pregnant is the most fragile sort of happiness I have ever been blessed to experience.
And that’s the first lesson, the first feeling, the first realisation that hit home as soon as I saw that little plus line on the test.
Just this morning, I read that beyond week 32, feeling baby hiccupping daily might be a sign of fetal distress. I’m on week 34, and my baby hiccups pretty much every day. It took;
- a good cry
- a good hug
- a baby heart rate check using our fetal doppler
- messages from my sister-in-law, a doctor and mother of three who my husband contacted
- a message to my gynae
- a few forum checks on my pregnancy app
to reassure me that it was normal, that plenty of babies hiccup regularly and as my friend put it, it will just mean you’ll have a baby who hiccups very often.
You flit from one state of being to another so easily and so quickly, that you barely have time to reflect on what you’re doing or feeling.
It’s the sort of happiness that threads lightly on thin ice, never knowing whether the ground is going to break beneath your feet. Naturally, I can only speak for myself – I’m sure it’s not the same for every woman and I’m happy for the mothers who breeze through confidently. There were many of those days for me too. But it takes very little to test how fragile the feeling is. A silly search on Google, for example, made it crack.
2. Being pregnant means knowing we are not in control.
I was flipping through a magazine last year and this stylised, pretty quote jumped up at me. It said: “Relax. Nothing is ever under control anyway.” And it’s true, tested beyond a doubt by this wonderful state of being.
Sure, you can control the food you eat, the sugar you consume, the workouts you manage to fit in. But outside of that, and inside of you, there’s very, VERY little you can control. For someone who thrives on knowing everything as much as possible, this was a bit hard to come to terms with.
Thing is, you have to learn to. Unless you want to spend nine months biting your nails, counting the hours to your next ultrasound visit (been there, done that), giving free rein to your darkest fears, and consequently not enjoying a single minute of these precious moments, then you learn to ride the wave.
We are not in control – and some times, no scratch that, many times – that is a good thing. It allows you instances where you can just be, without worrying on what you have to do. Be at one with yourself, with your baby, with the beauty of what is happening. Because make no mistake – we are lucky to be here. We are lucky because every time it happens, it’s a little miracle and miracles are very rare.
3. Being pregnant is learning to trust in what your body can do.
Because I couldn’t actively control the beast of a machine that I am, I needed to trust it knows what it’s doing.
Everyday, especially in the first trimester, I would stand in the shower as water dripped over and around me. I would hold my belly and say, I trust in you. I trust you know what to do. It was liberating in a sense, to be able to connect with myself this way. It helped me move on from the crippling anxiety that assailed me in those first few months. When I thought about what the alternatives were there really are none. Trusting is the first step to finding the happiness I believed I deserved.
4. Being pregnant tests the old adage “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and finds it true.
No one pregnancy is like another. Not a single one. Some people are sick throughout, some aren’t. Some get big, some don’t. Some experience the ABC of symptoms and some experience the XYZ. So how, when there’s so much diversity, could you ever hope to compare yourself, and actually get any meaning out of it?
I am doing the best I can, with the challenges my body is teaching me to accept, and I’ll carry this life lesson with me always, well beyond these nine months.
5. Being pregnant is finding out you’re capable of a lot more than you thought.
And I’m not talking about birth (not there yet!) or the way your body can really take a beating, stretch beyond limits that shouldn’t be allowed, experience pain in places you had never even thought of, etc etc – though that too!
I’m talking about emotions, feelings, the strength that comes from mentally accepting everything that’s happening to you and around you. When hormones are literally on fire and you have no idea why you’re crying or laughing, while still juggling a 9 – 6 job, running a household, being there for people because life hasn’t really been put on pause, you realise at the end of every day, how much you’ve already accomplished. Even if you don’t really see it. It’s there. I’m stronger because I’m aware of what I’m capable of, and that’s a beautiful feeling.
6. Being pregnant is witnessing how love can take limitless forms.
My mother offered to wash all my baby clothes because, in the absence of spacious laundry hanging areas, it would take me forever to get everything clean and ready.
Someone I’ve never talked to before reached out on Instagram to offer me some things she never used, just in case I might need them.
I’ve never experienced such a close bond with so many people who are going through the same time as me, as we share joys and sorrows, tips and advice.
My family would go to the ends of the Earth, do a back flip, and come back if I asked them to, just to make me happy.
My husband and I are closer than we’ve ever been. The expectation is electric, the excitement helps us bond in ways we’ve never had the opportunity to before.
And the love I feel for someone I’ve never met, but just feel, through the rolling and the punching and the kicking and, yes, the hiccups I feel somewhere close to my bum (weirdest feeling EVER)… is just something. I wonder if I’ll ever manage to put it into words. Maybe some day. Maybe some day I’ll write that story. But not just yet.
Being pregnant is beautiful, painful, stressful, miraculous, bewildering, incredible, overwhelming, scary, the kind you want to get over with and one you won’t on certain days. Every single emotion is valid, even though you’ll feel like a walking contradiction. Like you shouldn’t grieve the pain and discomfort because you’re lucky to be here at all, but not accepting the lows that come with it, means not accepting what you’re feeling. And that is never the right approach.
Being pregnant to me is being constantly FULL. Full physically, sure, but full emotionally and mentally and spiritually too. It’s being full with feeling until the tears spill and the laughter makes itself heard. Full of thoughts and dreams and dread and hopes and plans. A kaleidoscope of fear and wonder.
Nine months, a birth and a rebirth – it’s not only your baby who’s getting a fresh start. It’s also You. Nine months of learning, of being taught by your own self, will bring you here.
There’s beauty in knowing that before you teach baby anything, baby will have taught you so much.