The Oddity of Pregnancy

Guest Blogger, Desiree Hostettler (center)

Guest Blogger, Desiree Hostettler (center)

Every morning I wake up and look into the mirror saying: “OMG I’m pregnant!” While some women might be completely at ease with the thought of being pregnant, for me, even at 24 weeks pregnant, it still feels odd. My body is changing, my hair and nails are growing faster than the speed of Speedy Gonzales, and I still cannot wrap my head around the truth that I am pregnant. My husband and I thought about it, we wanted to try it, and voila it happened and we accepted it as a blessing. Yet everything has been surreal since then. Surreal, because I am pregnant but I do not feel it. I feel certain changes, but I do not connect the changes to my pregnancy. My first trimester went relatively smooth, I got nauseous and was tired, but never had to vomit or felt like I could not make it out of the house. Lucky me, I know.

Consequently, here I was in my first trimester, trying to feel motherly, which I did not, trying to be excited about it, which I was not. To this day it is still not obvious whether I am pregnant or have just gained a lot of weight. I have to say, I also hide it well under loose clothes. But it is frustrating. I was and am just as selfish and concerned with my personal matters as I was before, if not more. If you would have asked me when I was 16 years old where I saw myself in 15 years, being married and pregnant would not have been on my list. Being a successful, independent woman changing the world, would have been my common answer. While other friends of mine were dreaming about the white dress, the prince, and a lovely family of four or five, my dream was the exact opposite. I could not have cared less for any of that, I wanted and still want to convey change, and doing something with my education, so I thought, a baby would keep me from it. So when I did end up pregnant, I could not help but feel selfish and guilty, because now I would be a mother and my whole life would simply revolve around my child, like my mother before me and her mother before her. Not that it is a bad thing, but what about all my goals that are still left incomplete? Why did I go to college, work in different countries and get a Master’s if it will not lead me anywhere? I was and still am not at peace with that idea. Of course, anyone can choose to do as they please, but for me, it is impossible to give up on my dreams and goals, as bad as I feel about it. The thought that I might not be able to achieve my goals makes me very anxious. Another selfish thought I had as a woman who is not very comfortable with her body - I was worried about how my physique will change and how much weight I will gain, whether I would be able to accept myself after pregnancy. If my self-esteem is low how can I raise my child to be self-confident? A lot of selfish thoughts swirled through my head and I felt like I was caught in an inescapable maze. Researching and talking to women has shown me that my life does not need to be one or the other way and that there is never a perfect timing for a career or pregnancy. There is never a perfect timing for anything period. But I am not the only pregnant woman going through these emotional cataclysms.

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I realized that my pregnancy is affecting me more psychologically than physically. No one had ever told me that it would be a psychological battle, and for me, it has been. Live Science magazine wrote: “The physical changes in a woman's body during pregnancy receive plenty of attention, but less consideration is given to the emotional changes she could be experiencing.” I totally and utterly agree with that. So while I thought I was the only soon-to-be heartless mother feeling once excited and then depressed about being a mother, I found out that this is a very normal psychological cycle a pregnant woman can go through. Furthermore, I started to doubt myself more than before. Cari Nierenberg from Live Science made a point when she wrote: “Pregnancy can also bring up other emotionally charged issues, such as difficult family relationships, insecurities and unrealistic expectations, which may have previously been suppressed or ignored.” All of my ignored fears surfaced ten fold, and I had no idea how to control them. According to the International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy, it will get even worse during the third-trimester, when the anxiety of giving birth starts playing into the equation, but overall self-identity issues are high on the list of insecurities a pregnant woman deals with. An article in the Washington Post argues that pregnant women should seek psychological counseling to discuss the fears I have mentioned to lessen the anxiety about a life with a baby. The article raises a fair point: “[…] in many cases, the stigma associated with maternal mental health keeps pregnant women from seeking therapy, because there is added shame in thinking “this is supposed to be the happiest time in your life, which creates the concept that you only go if something really bad happens,” Zucker says.” The reason I am writing this article is to express that there is no shame in feeling what you feel. I felt the shame, and sometimes still feel it, but overall this is very normal and you are not the only one feeling what you feel. If psychological therapy will help to accept that, one should seek out that option. I sought out people to talk to and decided to read about it in order to turn my negative thoughts into more reasonable “positive” thoughts. To have selfish thoughts as a mother-to-be is not a crime, it is human.

This has been my experience so far, and with time it is becoming more real as I am becoming more visible and have started to feel movements and kicks. Every woman is different and there is no one way to feel during a pregnancy and there is no right way of going through a pregnancy. For me, it was more of a psychological challenge than a physical one thus far, but the physical will come and the psychological aspect might get a bit more challenging. I have no doubt about it. What I came to realize is that I do not have to give up on my dreams just because I am becoming a mother, it will just take more organizing and might be more challenging. But now I have someone to impress, who will look up to me as she grows, so I can show my daughter that being a mother, married, and fulfilling your dreams is all possible. Due to some odd miracle it became even easier for me to get my priorities sorted after finding out I am pregnant. I have been told, with a new child comes a new blessing. My little miracle already brought a blessing with her, providing me with wonderful new opportunities, helping me to push forward with my goals. But the biggest blessing is yet to come, which is meeting her.

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Can a mother have it all? Career, family, and time for herself? I believe it is possible, just not as easy as it is for men, we are unfortunately not equal in the biological sense. It takes a lot of hard work for women, but with a good support system (family, husband, and friends) it can be managed. That I am sure of, but we shall see.

To conclude, everything is happening at once and all of it makes the fact that I am pregnant even more ineffable. Actually, for me being pregnant has been an ineffable experience overall.

Sources:

https://www.onlymyhealth.com/psychological-symptoms-during-pregnancy-1310622202

https://www.ifwip.org/psychological-changes-during-pregnancy/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/10/13/why-psychotherapy-should-be-part-of-routine-prenatal-care/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.01746497b734

Desiree Hostettler