When you’re pregnant, especially with your first, your emotions are changing weekly, possibly daily. I believe it’s important to be aware of these feelings and even try to understand where they come from, not necessarily to control them but to learn from them.
I completely understand that everyone is different and every experience, every pregnancy is just as different as our individuality. It’s still nice knowing that what you’re feeling and going through is normal.
Here’s my own story, if you’re interested in hearing about it. Maybe you want to pour yourself a cup of tea? It’s going to be a long one. Thomas, I won’t be offended if you don’t read this.
When I first found out I was pregnant I was filled with a large variety of emotions. I was scared (that I would have a miscarriage), protective (over the growing fetus), happy (to be pregnant), terrified (of the unknown), numb (from the nausea), unhappy (to hear the Fernie hospital O.R. closes every other weekend). I wasn’t sure what was normal or typical because I’ve never spent much time around other people that were pregnant and when you do you typically get the “I’m good. Everything’s going well.” story. You never get the behind the curtain secrets, which is fair. In the movies and on various TV programs you see pregnant women get irrational or angry over what seems like very trivial things and they may cry at the drop of a hat..or just throw up randomly. This is what I expected. Later I came to realize that there is no such thing as normal or typical and movies are just entertainment. Big surprise.
Maybe it’s the Taurus in me or, possibly, I was in survival mode. On the outside I was feeling stubbornly strong and ready for anything. On the inside I was remembering the video from high school about childbirth and how I swore I would never get pregnant because it looked like the most horrifying experience ever. The first three months were the hardest. I was so drained of energy, sick, in denial and my motivation level was at all time low. Some days I was feeling nothing at all because it was probably easier that way. I was pushing down, into my toes, all my fears and doubts and wondering why I was occasionally waking up in the middle of the night feeling hot and sweaty and finding it hard to breathe.
In my second trimester things started to change, both in body and mind. My nausea went away and my energy came back. I felt like myself again. I also started to gain a lot of weight, which made me feel like I was losing the weight game, and I began to realize my due date was getting closer and will most likely become a reality. During a conversation with an old friend in Ontario I was asked what I was so scared of (I was starting to open up with friends and family about how I was feeling) and I told her that I didn’t really know. After a bit of contemplation I narrowed it down to being scared that I may not be as strong as I thought I was. I was also terrified of pain, the unknown, not being a good mother, letting Rodney down and so on.
It may seem as though I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy at all, and in the beginning I think that was probably true, but one special day in May I decided to head to the library to find something that was comforting. I was pretty sick of all the anxiety and really wanted to start enjoying this so called “amazing experience”.
It’s only natural
The only book I read at the library that day was The Official Lamaze Guide, most likely because the subtitle was “Giving Birth With Confidence.” There was a lot of discussion about hospital vs home births, midwife vs doctor, natural pain coping methods vs medical pain relief but what I kept reading and focusing on was the important fact that we, as women, are born with the ability to give birth. This is what our bodies were built to do. There’s nothing more natural and empowering than having a baby. HOLY. That was huge for me! I actually went home feeling good about myself and this pregnancy for the first time in over five months. Of course, I wasn’t cured of all my fears in one library session but over the next few weeks I took some important steps in turning this frown upside down.
Talk it out
One of the most important steps I took was talking to Rod about how I was feeling and he did the best thing he could have done, he listened. We decided together, knowing and understanding who we are (me: I need someone to reassure me that everything is fine and that I’m doing well, rod: he has no clue as to what is going to happen and would go fly a kite if I tell him to), that we needed a bit of help. The stars and planets were all aligned when Rod sent me to Rebecca Vaughan for a prenatal massage in May. Rebecca and I got to talking a little about how she was in training to be a doula and how I was feeling during the pregnancy and I noticed how relaxed I felt with her. She wasn’t judgmental or telling me how I should be doing things but was understanding and completely in love with the birthing process. This was a person I needed to be around.
Rebecca sat with Rod and I for an hour and took us through a few ways she can help us cope with the different stages of labour and what’s actually happening in my body at those times. Knowing the stages of labour and how the body is preparing itself, rather than just ignoring it all and being scared of it, helped me understand the nature of the pain. It was really important for me to hear that it’s pain with a purpose and it will not be beyond what I can handle. Rebecca also gave us a couple videos to watch. With the DVDs in my hand and not even a little desire to watch them, I knew I still had some anxiety over the birthing process. Surprisingly, Rod did want to watch them and so we did. Again, just seeing other couples cope with the various stages of labour and all the different positions etc, it helped me face my fears and even change my perception of birth as pain and misery to amazing, possible and beautiful.
An Open Concept Plan – Loft Styles
It’s encouraged by almost everyone (books, online resources, doctors, BC government, friends, our doula) to have a birth plan. In the beginning I thought this was pretty silly and I wasn’t ready to think about it but now I see the benefits in writing down how you see your ideal birth experience. It allowed me to think about options, such as, how I think I want to deal with pain (naturally or medically), where to give birth, who I want involved, and it also forced me to think about who I am and how I deal with stress. A friend recently said to me: how you deal with stressful situations in life is most likely how you’ll deal with stress in labour and if you know you don’t handle stress well, it’s best to meditate/focus on how you wish you could deal with it. I thought that was pretty cool and helpful.
With no regrets of writing out a birth plan, because I made some important decisions in the process, I still think that (for me) a birth plan is just some lovely words on a piece of paper. The reality is I don’t know how I will want to cope with child birth. I have never been in this situation before so what I really want to plan for is to trust my body and mind to just know what it needs at the time and for Rebecca and Rod to be open to whatever that ends up being. Go with the flow!
My plan is to go into this with excitement, trust in the people around me and myself, strength, love and an insane amount of positivity that I can do it. And I will.
Another thing, I keep hearing how there are no medals given out to moms who go through a natural birth but, for me, the medal isn’t the prize I would want – the pride and confidence in yourself that you can attain for even just trying to achieve something that is difficult is something to be cherished, if that is your goal.
Another thing I did was start to enjoy the changes in my body – to be ok and even find beauty in my new figure, to take time to sleep and rest, to enjoy all the little pokes and connections I feel with my growing child. In a strange way I believe my little girl, Rod and I are a team. We’re helping each other through these nine months and ever since I started believing in the power of our unity, things did get easier and more enjoyable.
it’s a bit grey
It’s interesting how quickly we (the preggers) can be influenced by what other people are saying, in good and bad ways. You get a lot of tips and advice, do’s and don’ts, whether you like it or not, and what I learned to do was listen but remember that I need to trust myself and my own intuition. Nothing is black and white.
Chocolate covered reasons
All the fear, anxiety, doubt that I felt and still feel are all part of the process. Everything I experience is for a reason and I don’t regret a single moment of panic. When I talk to various mothers (new and old), it was always nice to know that what I feel is normal and experienced by almost every expecting mom. Maybe this is comforting to you too.
I still have approximately 8 weeks to go and I know I’ll have new and stronger emotions with each passing week. Right now I’m in excitement mode. The anticipation is sometimes hard to deal with. Who is this person that is about to change our lives forever?