In preparation for launching my Conscious Motherhood eCourse (Your Transition Into Motherhood), I’ve been immersed in my journal entries from my preconception stage through my first year of motherhood. Many of these entries appear in the eCourse, but some of them didn’t make the cut. I’m posting one here today as it speaks not only to the fantasies that shatter for many women during pregnancy, but also the fantasies that shatter during all transitions (at least in this culture, which promotes a unilaterally blissful image and consequent expectation of transitions like getting engaged and pregnancy.
March 30, 2004
“I loved being pregnant!” I heard my mother saying throughout my growing up years. Hearing this statement left me with the expectation that I, too, would love being pregnant. Well, surprise surprise… I don’t! When I said this to M. tonight she said, “I don’t know anyone who has loved being pregnant.”
I seem to remember hearing about these women my whole life. Or maybe I’ve just seen them in advertisements and on television: the perfect woman with the perfect belly who gained just the right amount of weight, gorgeous and glowing. I sure would like to meet that person! I hear about her indirectly, but I’ve never actually met someone who loved it from beginning to end. Is this another myth that’s propagated by our culture, like the myth that an engaged woman is supposed to be blissfully happy for the rest of her life?
My expectation prior to getting pregnant was that I would love it from start to finish. I thought I would follow directly in my mother’s footsteps. I must have come across stories of women who had heartburn or gained a lot of weight or had terrible morning sickness, but I always thought (arrogantly, I see now), “That will never be me. I’m too healthy for any of those things to hit me.” Now I know that most of the physical pitfalls of pregnancy have nothing to do with one’s prepregnant state of health. Why did I have terrible morning sickness but other don’t? Who knows? There hasn’t been enough research to know. (And maybe we’re not meant to know.) But I do know that this has been another humbling experience for me, and that it has been nothing, absolutely nothing, like I expected.
What I realized tonight is that being pregnant is like a condensed version of adolescence, or PMS. We have intensified hormones shooting through our bodies, hormones that during adolescence were spread out over several years, and during PMS is isolated to a period of 7-10 days. But this is a constant dose of hormones being pumped into my body for nine months straight, and then who knows how I’ll feel at the end of this when I’m breastfeeding? So why wouldn’t I feel challenged by this experience!? Hormones are powerful little things, and they can surely wreak havoc at times.
This is hard. It’s not fun. I feel depressed one minute and fine the next. After nine weeks of nausea I had to deal with four weeks of intense back pain, and now I feel like I’m carrying around a 25 pound piece of luggage on my body every second. Lumbering into bed. Lumbering out of bed. Sidling into and out of my car. I don’t have the fluidity and grace that I’ve always had, and that feels hard.
There have been wonderful moments as well, of course. My sense of smell, so heightened those first nine weeks to a fault, now gives me great pleasure. The smell of almond dishwashing detergent can make me swoon, as can Lever soap and Clorox bleach. (I even detected a hint of cherry in the dishwashing soap and confirmed my suspicion when I read the ingredients.) My sense of taste, also heightened to the point of nausea in the beginning, now gives me intense pleasure at times. The flesh of a sweet, homegrown orange tastes divine. Sometimes even water will make eyes roll into the back of my head with satisfaction. I’ve also been more sensual than I’ve ever been. I feel open to Daev in a new way, which feels wonderful. So it’s important for me to remember the positive aspects of being pregnant.
My recurring realization with each new transition is that life is not one-dimensional. I can say I’ve loved aspects of being pregnant, but I’ve found other aspects incredible challenging, uncomfortable, and even hellish. And I expect that having a baby will be a similar experience. So, once again, there is no pie in the sky. Life is multi-faceted; there is not one experience that will bring me weeks, months, or years of unending bliss. The the bliss comes when I accept the experience as it is, and realize that it’s okay that I’m not loving every aspect of being pregnant.
What I do love, what never changes, is that I’m growing a new life inside me. We’re beginning our family, and welcoming the mystery that arrives, whoever that may be. That is extraordinary. Do I think that becoming a mother will bring be unending joy? No, quite the contrary. And I’m doing my best to break down whatever illusions and fantasies still remain so that I can welcome this experience for the learning process that it is.