Whether you’re pregnant with your first or a seasoned vet, you already know that your life is different with a child in the picture. So here are five things I realized I needed to get over (quickly!) in order to have a healthy, less stressful life.
5. Saying No
Whether you’re a social butterfly or a people-pleaser, you’re going to need to add this word to your vocabulary: NO. In the beginning, your life as a mother might not have changed that much. But soon, you’re probably going to need to get used to turning down party invitations, not volunteering for projects, and no longer being a pillar of strength for everyone but you. Don’t feel guilty if you have to say no to a girls night out with your best friend. The people who love you won’t be offended and will understand that you are going through a crazy tough time emotionally and physically. Don’t be afraid to say no at work, either. The laws in most states are pretty good at protecting pregnant women from unfair treatment in the workplace. So if your boss orders you to pull multiple all-nighters or do something physically demanding, be unafraid and unashamed to say NO.
4. Superficial Things
Nothing puts things in perspective like bringing a life into the world. All of a sudden, the little things seem comically small and you wonder why you ever worried about those things at all. But we, as emotional women, will sometimes put a magnifying glass to trivial concerns and work ourselves into a tizzy over them. Don’t fall prey to stressing over the superficial things. First thing to go for me was caring about my appearance. Once, I opened my door and the UPS man made a joke about me wearing pajamas in the afternoon. I responded with, “I’m sick and I’m pregnant.” He paused and replied with, “Did I mention those are very nice pajamas?” Wise man. You learn to not only get over caring about how you look, but about what people think. You’re caring for and raising a human. So remember that everything else comes second to that. You need to take care of yourself and be healthy in order to be able to take care of your little one.
3. Mistaking Pride for Bravery
I’ve brought this issue up before and continue to do so because it was such an important realization for me. When my Lupus and Ehlers-Danlos were in full swing (pre-pregnancy), I was bound and determined to still live a normal, active life. I wasn’t going to use my illnesses as a crutch and be dependent on others. However, this kind of bull-headed approach can be quite dangerous when you enter motherhood. You are not doing your baby any favors by trying to be “tough” and putting yourself in potentially harmful situations. If you need help lifting something, ask. If you can’t work anymore, don’t. If something hurts, stop. This was incredibly hard for me to do, but if you won’t accept support for yourself, do it for you baby’s sake. Even the strongest people need help sometimes.
2. Being Easily Intimidated
Some of you ladies may already have a strong, mama bear instinct, but some of us just need a little extra encouragement. Outsiders also underestimate how frightening the whole experience of going through a high-risk pregnancy can be for a woman. Not only are you getting opinions and advice from family and friends, but you’re getting news and orders from your doctors, too. Whether you’re making decisions about your child’s health while you’re pregnant or while you’re in the pediatrician’s office, you need to stand firm in your right to protect your child. When every decision you make has the potential to impact your baby’s health, it can be very easy to let anxiety take over and for your instinct to take the back seat. A dear friend of mine – through no fault of her own – is dealing with the consequences of neglect and abuse of authority on the part of the medical staff that was supposed to be keeping her baby’s best interest at heart. Though she doesn’t have a weak bone in her body, the doctors still made mistakes that changed the life of her baby forever. Remember, you have the right to tell the doctors what you do/don’t consent to and you also have the right to be informed every step of the way. You have to dig deep, listen to what your gut is telling you, and be outspoken about the issue.
1. Being Embarrassed
Fact: when pregnant, strangers will be examining your downstairs. Fact: you will not always have time to prepare for said examinations. Fact: sometimes you will accidentally snart (sneeze+fart) on your doctor. These things happen. The only reason I put this on my list of things to get over, is that your well-intentioned preservation of dignity can actually be a bad thing. I’m unfortunately speaking from experience. Early on in pregnancy, I let my shyness, modesty, and embarrassment override my better sense of judgement. I wrote off my pain and bleeding as possible hemorrhoid issues. I also told myself that I was probably overreacting and that the blood was barely more than what I would call spotting. As it turned out, I had a ruptured uterine cyst and a subsequent infection that led to a pre-term labor scare. Thank the good Lord that everything worked in the end, but boy did I learn my lesson! From then on out, I didn’t care if I grew a second anus and I didn’t care how many doctors would like to see my mutant sphincter. (For the record I only have one anus, thankyouverymuch.) Point being, get over any hang ups you have about embarrassment or weird body issues. Your baby’s health is top priority.
All joking aside, this was a very personal post to me. I hope it lets women know they’re not alone in this struggle, there is support, and, now more than ever, it is necessary to have (and use) your strong voice!