Before getting pregnant, I looked forward to pregnancy. The images I saw on social media were glamorous: fancy photo shoots with stunning gowns and a makeup and hair crew, images taken on film gorgeous enough for blogs and Pinterest, all smiles, people in love, and cute bumps. What I didn’t see was the behind the scenes — the reality that pregnancy can be hard on your body, that I had an intense first trimester ahead of me, that gaining weight can be challenging, and that the emotional roller coaster is real.
Through week five, I had almost no symptoms. I wasn’t sick once and I felt great. My husband asked me at one point, “So, when does morning sickness start?” And I naively responded,
A few days later, the most violent case of nausea I’d ever experienced in my life hit, leaving me shocked and disoriented. My days were rough and on top of it all hardly anyone knew our news. I had to make excuse after excuse for not taking on work or attending events. It was awful, I grew to have a new level of empathy and understanding for anyone going through chemotherapy or any other treatment where the side effect was nausea. I could think of no greater punishment.
I heard the second trimester was usually better than the first, and while the nausea subsided and I gained some of my energy back, I also gained the entire recommended weight gain for my pregnancy in the duration of 8 weeks. The amount and speed of this was another big physical and emotional adjustment for me. Add to that the long list of the typical pregnancy symptoms (insomnia, heartburn, acid reflux, etc.) and I was officially over it.
The realization that I don’t like pregnancy took me a long time to come to terms with. For awhile, I couldn’t even entertain the idea because I thought that it made me a bad mom. I felt guilty because I knew that not everyone who wants a baby is able to have one.
What a freeing thought that is, for me or anyone else struggling through a hard pregnancy and feeling guilty for not enjoying it. I know that I’m not the only one who’s had a rough go, and truthfully, my experience probably falls somewhere in the middle; while some of my friends have had easier pregnancies than me, some have also had a harder set of symptoms, like being hospitalized for nausea, or on bed rest.
The writer Glennon Doyle Melton coined the term “brutiful” as a way to describe something that’s both brutal and beautiful, and I think that word perfectly sums up pregnancy. It’s been hard, but it’s also been so good, and I would willingly go through another debilitating first trimester and nine months of physical exhaustion and emotional adjustment for this baby. I don’t love pregnancy, but I love our child. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that this doesn’t make me a bad mom, and I can recognize that it’s simply my experience. I now appreciate and hold both; one doesn’t discount the other. Pregnancy is so very brutiful.