I had a great pregnancy. But I didn't love being pregnant.
I found out I was expecting on a Saturday night. I had friends in town, and we were out watching sports. I felt off that day -- tired and craving salty foods like never before. Somehow, I had a feeling. So I went home early and took a pregnancy test. Sure enough, it was positive! Though my husband and I had talked about having a baby, we weren’t planning it down to the day, so I was a little surprised.
I didn’t share the news with my husband for 6 days. I wanted to tell him when we had some downtime and could both celebrate. As I waited for the perfect time to make the announcement, I reflected a lot. I Thought about how happy I was to have a little human growing inside of me, yet about all the things that would inevitably have to change. Sure, life would be different, but would it be better?
I told my husband we were going to be a family with a baby hat and a cupcake with candles that spelled “baby” on it. It was just what we needed to both get teary and hug and kiss and dream of our life as a family of three.
I didn’t think I was very far along. But at my first prenatal appointment, which I attended alone, I learned that I was already 7 weeks along and was able to hear baby’s heartbeat. Somehow, I felt emotionless. I was sort of lost, and didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. I was excited, of course, but I also knew so many things still had to go right to end with a little baby cradled in my arms.
For the first 12 weeks, we (like many other couples) kept the joyous news to ourselves. I felt like I was living a lie, making excuses for saying no to that glass of wine I would otherwise cheerfully sip on; for choosing to sleep instead of going on my usual runs, and for overall being a person that I, myself, didn’t recognize. Though my first trimester was uneventful, I was struggling with the changes that my body was starting to go through and was frustrated by all the cravings I felt I had no control over. What’s more, not being able to talk about the pregnancy almost made it unreal. As we told more people, things became more tangible, and my excitement grew.
But still, I was apprehensive about telling people. I didn’t want them to treat me differently and wanted to talk about other things beside pregnancy and babies. I still wanted to be me: a wife, a friend, a nurse, a runner, a cook, a baker, and so much more.
20 weeks came and went. I tried really hard to embrace being pregnant, but I still couldn’t. My bump was too small for people to notice, and I felt I wasn’t reaping the benefits of a growing belly. Instead of being and staying frustrated though, I put a lot of energy towards feeling like my normal self: I remained as active as possible; I ordered a glass of wine with dinner, even if I only took one sip; I drank coffee and ate sushi; I did many other things that they tell you you can’t do, just with moderation. Every little bit of normalcy helped.
It was around the 30th week that a stranger noticed I was pregnant, and I started to get random belly rubs! Finally, I felt obviously pregnant, and it felt good! I was still running and jump roping and even ran a 5k at 32 weeks. I felt like a badass!
But the almost euphoric joy was short lived. At 33 weeks, I developed terrible hip pain -- a tugging pain that my sisters and friends experienced during their pregnancies but didn’t feel the need to tell me about. Why? I was so uncomfortable, I had to stop running. The pain and lack of activity was too much to handle. All I could do was sit and rest. It drove me crazy. I thought to myself, I can't do this for 7 more weeks. But then I realized, maybe this was probably my body's way of telling me to slow down. Clearly, I needed to accept and embrace the changes that my body was going through rather than resist them.
By 36 weeks, I was feeling good again. I couldn't run, but I walked often. The end was also in sight, and though I struggled with body image throughout the pregnancy, I finally looked at my bump and thought, "damn I look good!"
My water broke at 39 weeks, one week after a much-disputed trip to a friend’s wedding (it’s not every day that a 38-week pregnant woman hop on a plane). I was very laid back about labor. It was 10 pm, and my husband was at work, scheduled for an overnight shift. Though I wasn't having contractions yet, I told him he should probably look for someone to take over his shift. I showered, put on makeup, did laundry, read a book and had a glass of wine. Maybe even two. I was confident and chill and thought my body would do what it needed to do.
When my husband got home, we sat on the couch and and talked about how we were going to meet our baby the next day. We went to bed then headed to the hospital early the next morning. After a couple hours of pushing, our baby girl was born that evening. She was the best surprise, and she was well worth the 39-week wait!
Did you like being pregnant? Did you hate it? Give us the honest truth (we can take it!) in the comments below.
McKenzie lives in Chicago with her husband and 7 month old daughter. She enjoys traveling, running and healthy cooking. She is a nurse by trade and baby gear enthusiast!