What began as two faint pink lines transformed into a lima bean shadow in an ultrasound picture, and then to a wriggling little fetus.
Now there’s a strong, bladder-kicking baby boy who is restricting my bending motion and keeping me from seeing my own feet.
And me, I changed a lot as well. Here are 8 things I learned from my pregnant self:
1) How to lose control for the right reasons and be okay with it.
Throughout my life I have progressed in my abilities to change myself for the better and have control over my successes. When pregnant, from the moment of conception, you must learn to say goodbye to your self-priorities and dedicate your energy to the tiny living being who is feeding off of your life in order to sustain its own.
From my sleep schedule to planning the rest of my new life, I have had to change and adapt to this person who is now in control of my every move because he depends on me.
I surrender to this new adventure in the form of a newborn human being. He will be my greatest accomplishment.
I am not referring to the typical responsibilities we are all familiar with: paying rent, washing the dog, buying groceries, being on time to work, being kind, etc. I mean adjusting my diet to maintain proper nutrition for the helpless life inside me.
Managing my finances/health insurance plan/bills in a manner that ensures the well being of not only this tiny helpless being, but myself as well because he needs me. Heavy stuff.
3) Outward appearance isn’t everything.
Okay, so we all learn in our younger years that you should not judge a book by its cover, everyone is different and it’s beautiful. But then you become 20-something and tap into an inner urge to reflect on your ideal body image and project an attractive appearance.
When I began growing into my larger, full figured pregnant self, it was hard to look in the mirror. My bum and child-bearing hips became a nuisance because I couldn’t fit into anything but stretchy pants, and my clothes were still tight even with all this elastic. My confidence went out the window when my perfectly proportioned boobies grew larger and sprouted dark purple and red stretch marks, while my nipples changed shape, to prepare for lactation. To top it all off, I didn’t even have time to prepare and adjust mentally in order to accept these huge changes, because it literally happened overnight. No joke.
So I cried, I hid behind layers of sweats and large T-shirts. I ate ice cream because “damn it, I might as well try something to soothe my sadness and discomfort” and then I cursed the names of every single person who reminded me how huge I had become and how different I look.
And then one day my husband came to my aid like he usually does (he’s really great at knowing I am hurting without me needing to say much). In the most honest and sincere manner, he took my hands in his, looked me in the eyes and said “You are beautiful.” I felt it.
I actually felt for the first time in my pregnancy that I really am beautiful. Without needing to exchange many words with each other as to why, I kissed him with tears streaming down my face, then walked away to our bathroom and shut the door behind me. I looked in the mirror another time and stared at my growing belly with relief and satisfaction because this is our “son.”
4) Meditation won’t always keep you from losing your mind.
I am great at keeping my cool. Not a whole lot of things tend to bother me and I live day to day without taking offense to things I see and hear.
I normally brush off any urge to dispute a point that may differ from my own opinions.
Add a large dose of uncontrollable female hormones, discomfort in just about every part of my body, sleep deprivation and a new found sense of agitation that came along with my baby making factory. Say the wrong thing to me on the wrong day, and hot damn, we have an atomic bomb of curse words spewing out of my emotional self.
Once I explode there is no containing the disaster. I don’t care who you are or how much yoga you practice, pregnancy hormones are a real thing and they will make you temporarily crazy. Thankfully I surround myself with patient and understanding human beings who accept these momentary lapses in my sanity and are hanging in there through the worst. This too shall pass, people, I love you and I am sorry!
5) Maternity clothes are awesome.
During the earlier months of my pregnancy when I was still in denial about gaining any weight (I thought I would be the girl who gains about 15 pounds all in her belly and we’d call it a day), I swore to myself I would never exchange my size two pants for a boring “basic wash,” tent-like pair of jeans with that weird fabric tummy support panel.
“I’ll just stick to my active wear,” I thought, “I will never spend money on those oddly designed pants.” But then as my tummy bulged and my butt resembled J-Lo’s I realized a part of my miserable discomfort was due to the elastic band around my mid section.
I realized the tight spandex on my butt wasn’t flattering or helping my self esteem very much as it resembled a busted can of biscuits.
So I asked my mom to take me to Target to go shopping. At least there, you have a variety of different departments which help ease the anxiety of walking into a maternity store, with huge posters of glowing pregnant women that I hardly resemble.
I tried on two or three pairs of size four-six-and finally size eight jeans with the fabric belly panel. Now that I had on bottom wear that was appropriate for my size and my little baby was comfortably tucked into his soft cotton fabric support belt, I looked and I felt just divine!
I walked out of the dressing room to show off to my mom, nervously standing with five or six alternative outfits she could encourage me to wear If I hated the pants, and I hugged her.
“That’s much better, honey” she said, “now you look like you’re ready to be a mommy.” And I did!
I let go of the image I had of myself at 110 lbs, cute and perky like I’ve always been, and I embraced the image of a maternity model like the ones in those stores and I looked awesome. All because of the glorious pants. And because of my mom. Who am I kidding—the title of this section should be “Mother knows best”. She is the one who had been telling me all the things to expect in the coming months and has been available to come to my rescue 24-7. Mom, I am so thankful for your knowledge and understanding exactly what I am going through.
7) How to trust again.
In my past life I have experienced things that have led me to trust no one. In my love life this barrier created friction in my marriage where two people must come together and work together equally. My forward-thinking and independence, pre-planning for myself, my husband and our unborn baby, had started creating turmoil.
While I was busy preparing on my own, he was being pushed out, not even allowed to have a part in our future because I was scared. He proved to me on many different occasions how he was ready to be a dad and take responsibility for his family and he did this during our hardest days and without me asking anything of him.
He sold his car-baby and bought us a four door family vehicle that was more functional for the carseat and the city. He took a job with maximum hours to start saving for my unpaid maternity leave. He committed to finishing school while working to provide for the three of us and still actively participate in being a dad. Every time I turned around he was doing things to help make my life easier and relieve the stress of becoming a new mommy and it was all natural to him, he loved making me smile and giving me a chance to finally breathe.
I know I married a great man, he’s been perfect for me since day one. However, the pregnancy shined new light on his natural ability to be wonderful and he consistently proved to me he will rise to the occasion for his family and work with me to take care of us.
This has shown me how to let go of my fears and trust again. Everything that has happened to me in my past has led me to the very moment I fell in love with this incredible man and we are doing awesome things together—this is how my life was meant to be.
8) It’s possible to split your heart into three.
Before the baby it was just him and me. We shared goals, our darkest secrets and grew love for each other that will last a lifetime and for this I am so grateful. We dreamed up the image of a family together without really understanding the impact it would have on our lives and how our hearts would still grow to have room for one more love.
And Son, that love is for you.
9) There will be heartache—I mean, heartburn.
Like a dragon attacking you from the inside or millions of hot chili peppers burning your esophagus, the struggle is real. I didn’t even know what heartburn was until that night I almost died chocking on my own fire breath. My husband, again coming to my rescue, rolled out of bed at three am and drove to the corner store to buy me tums—they are now my new best friends!
Nowadays, I am not surprised by any of my new and awkward bodily functions and I think this numbing happens to prepare you for the years of diaper changes and throw up that lie ahead.
10) How to grow up.
Not to say that anyone who hasn’t become a parent doesn’t know how to adult–it’s just that when it happened to me, absolutely everything changed in my existence and its wildly fantastic. I no longer have the option of living off of granola bars, having two jobs and an internship, going to the gym twice a day or function hungover.
I have now officially ditched one of my favorite pastimes: slamming shots of whiskey and dancing on bar counters to the “cupid shuffle.” I’ve switched into “mommy mode” by managing my time more cautiously, not drinking (of course) and finding more joy in folding tiny socks and washing nursing blankets in preparation for our little guy’s arrival and its awesome.
My kidneys are a lot happier these days too.
I knew that I would change as my transformation into motherhood was a new thing for me but nothing could have prepared me for these challenges I faced with my changing life. I have learned so much already and I know this is just preparation for learning even more.
I am ready.
Pregnancy isn’t Something to Complain About: 8 Empowering Reminders.
Author: Toni Duran
Volunteer Editor: Keeley Milne / Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: mahalie stackpole at Flickr