8 Lessons I’ve Learned During My First Pregnancy
Now that I’m 24 weeks into my pregnancy and finally past the 18 weeks of the most brutal exhaustion I’ve ever felt, I thought it would be a good time to recap a few lessons I’ve learned the past 5+ months. I never want it to seem like I am coming across as ungrateful because that’s not the case at all. I know how lucky I am that I get to experience this, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Things have definitely gotten better the past 6 weeks but life feels so different, and I’ve learned (and changed) a lot. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned now that I’m over halfway through my pregnancy.
That you can’t control anything
I used to plan my workouts for the week and rarely ever missed one. I love when my home is clean and organized which it almost always used to be. Then I napped every day after work and most weekends and struggled to wake up every morning no matter how much sleep I got. My body was no longer my own and there was no option but to just slow down and let it go.
I went from working out 4-5 days a week to 4-5 days a month, and there was nothing I could do about it. My home was a lot messier than I’d normally be ok with. I stopped making the bed, guys. That’s something I’ve always done even when I was a teenager! I didn’t just let myself go by any means, but I had to hit the pause button on a few things because that’s what my body and baby needed. It was easier to let go than I would have imagined it to be, but I felt pretty lost there for a while.
Worry will get you nowhere
I’m type-A and a worrier. Great combo, right? I spent the first few weeks terrified something would go wrong, googling everything, so afraid that I’d lose the baby or that she wouldn’t be ok. Once I saw her heartbeat, I knew I had to stop – to let go of the worry and stress because it wasn’t getting me anywhere.
Everything will change
Ok so a very obvious “duh” to this one, but…in the past 5 months, I got married, found out we were expecting, hired 3 new employees, announced the launch of The Everymom, and we’re planning on moving before having a baby in July. It’s a lot at once and my life literally feels upside-down, but since life is going to change so much anyway, it almost makes sense to just change everything.
Work with me on this because I don’t mean it negatively at all, but my thinking has shifted because the life I’ve known is coming to an end. I know it’s going to be really difficult, but it’s also going to be incredible. My marriage, wants, and needs still matter, but it’s just not just about us anymore. It all comes down to letting go again because everything’s going to be so different and we have no idea what it will look like.
Your body is no longer your own
Most moms-to-be will have moments where they don’t love how their body changes throughout pregnancy. I’m already up 20 lbs. (at 24 weeks), and my boobs are so much bigger than I thought they’d be at this point (people love pointing that out which feels just fantastic, by the way). I hate to admit this, but I’ve shed a few tears over feeling really uncomfortable and not recognizing my own body. As grateful as I am for what my body is doing, the changes aren’t always easy.
My doctor said I’m measuring 24 weeks and isn’t at all concerned with my weight gain considering where I started, but it’s just hard to feel like your body isn’t your own, and the comparison game is a bad one to play because almost everyone who’s ahead of me has gained less weight than I have or has a smaller bump than I do.
People will point out how much your body has changed
You would never tell a woman she looked “huge” when she’s not pregnant (at least I really hope not), so maybe stop and think about what you should and shouldn’t say to someone who’s pregnant. It’s a really not fun having your body critiqued and even though it’s temporary and so worth it, hearing that your stomach or boobs are huge doesn’t feel great. I already don’t feel like myself and don’t anyone to point out how different I look.
You’ll learn how supportive your partner really is
I wasn’t much of a crier and never snapped at Conor (just not my communication style). Then those hormones sunk in I had so many feelings. There were days when I’m just so tired and felt down that I didn’t have the energy to leave the house (or put real pants on). I’ve cried because I’m sad about my family dynamics and going through pregnancy without parents sucks. I’ve cried because all my maternity jeans don’t fit well (why are they all so baggy?) and there was the time I cried because I couldn’t find my steamer. These behaviors were the opposite of how I’d normally handle things and Conor has been really sweet and either stops to give me a hug, offer me his favorite sweatshirt, run an errand, or do whatever he can to try to make me feel a little better. You will learn who your partner really is and how they handle stress. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you need when your hormones get the best of you.
Family issues will come to the surface in a whole new way
No family is perfect, but the majority of people I know seem to have one parent they’re relatively close to. Then there’s me. One of my parents was barely around and then disappeared 16 years ago, and the other one seemed to have had it in for me for as long as I can remember. At a certain point, I just couldn’t take being hurt over and over. I feel a very strong and real need to keep that negativity and hostility away from my baby – to protect her and myself because I need to heal and be strong for her. It’s so hard to think about the way I was raised and treated with my own child grows inside of me. I know I won’t be a perfect parent and that I’ll make my mistakes, but I would never try to hurt her (something that was done to me over and over) and I will always love and support her.
I miss my great aunt Rose more than ever. Her dementia has been awful for years, but I wish I could share all of this with her since she was the person who always loved and believed in me. I know she’d be so happy right now, and I’m just missing her. This part has felt really difficult – probably the biggest hurdle I’ve faced the past few months. Here I am, months away from becoming a mom without the support of my parents or the family member that meant the most to me. I’ve been working through this with my therapist but these losses are very real.
I am so lucky to have some really incredible friends who are like family to me, so turning to them has helped, but sometimes, you just need to cry it out. I’ve come home from baby showers in tears after hearing moms give the sweetest speeches, and even though I don’t have that, I’m hopeful that I’ll get to have that relationship with my daughter.
Your family is what you make it, but it’s so hard when the people who were supposed to love you unconditionally couldn’t, especially while you’re learning what that love feels like.
Your priorities will shift
We need to move out of our one bedroom condo, and what we’re looking for is so different now that it’s not just about us and the pups. We wanted to try to go to London this spring but with a baby coming, it just wasn’t in the budget. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult at all because it’s not, but it’s about so much more now. The way we think and how we spend has definitely changed. As someone who waited until 35 to get married, I had my time to live for myself and feel so ready for these changes but whoa – thinking about what kindergarten she’ll go to, saving for college, childcare, and what kind of life we want for our daughter is a huge, crazy, change from what life looked like a few months ago.
It’s important to stay in the moment – to remember that this is all temporary and that it’s happening for a very good reason, but it’s just so crazy how little anyone prepares you for the changes that come with pregnancy. So stop comparing yourself to others (a life lesson we’ve been working on for forever?), find people who will support you through it, and do your best to give yourself a break. It’s going to be ok.