Mother Sider Kelly is due her second baby any day now. The excitement of her impending new arrival has been overshadowed by the fact she hasn’t enjoyed her pregnancy at all. The fact that she and her baby are both healthy has made her feel terribly guilty.
Pregnancy is a physical and emotional rollercoaster. Your baby isn’t even here yet and your hormones are just OUT OF CONTROL. As Kelly makes clear, it’s OK to feel this way, and we agree. Yes, there are always those who are going through difficult pregnancies, facing uncertain futures… the list goes on. But that doesn’t make the way you’re feeling any less valid, so let’s stop with the guilt!
Over to Kelly…
‘So, you’ve got your two lines. You’re pregnant! Now what? What can you expect over the next nine magical months? Well you’ve got the ‘glow’ to look forward to; expect thick glossy hair like you’ve never had before; you’ll have fun planning your baby shower and sharing memes along the lines of ‘I’m so crafty I make people’; your boobs will grow and look amazing; you’ll adopt womanly curves as your beautiful belly grows; and you will love your bump and everything that comes with it because you, pretty lady, are growing a miracle. Oh how you’ll bloom…
Wait, just wait a minute. I’m raising the bullsh*t flag on this one. Sure, most of us know that with pregnancy comes some drawbacks. Most of us are aware of the likely nausea, sickness and tiredness in the first trimester, there are
hormones to contend with that will make you cry at dog food commercials. And we are not daft enough to think that by the time we get to the last trimester life will be as it was and we will still be doing boxercise in our lycra. But it’s ok, because we are growing a person, we will get a baby at the end of it which is all that matters and we couldn’t be happier…right? Let me raise that flag again, just a little bit higher this time.
Can I just say pregnancy sucks? There, I said it. I’m currently pregnant with baby number two, a much wanted (although earlier than planned) second baby. But HOLY COW, I’d rather go through labour than pregnancy any day of the week. The only ‘glow’ I have is from the perpetual cycle of colds that destroy my nose. I never realised just how much snot one person can have and now I have a permanent Rudolph-esque glow. My hair is already thick, thank you very much, and now my hair styling time has infringed on my sleep time because pregnancy thinks I need even thicker locks (I must be the only one who looks forward to losing hair post-partum). And the only thing that is blooming is my mood: blooming miserable!
Hold on a minute, I’m pregnant with a healthy baby and I’m complaining. Am I not aware of others who struggle to conceive? Who can’t have children? Clearly I’m ungrateful. And so it begins…
Yes it is a thing, but no one talks about the psychological pitfalls of pregnancy, just the physical ones (except varicose veins, no one talks about those either, but that’s another blog). I had it with my first pregnancy, I have it worse with my second, possibly because, as a direct result of this pregnancy, we have decided that our family is complete. I can’t put myself, or my children, through another pregnancy, physically or emotionally.
I struggled for over a year to conceive my first. Coupled with (as I call them) dodgy chromosomes which may hinder any pregnancy I have, it hasn’t been the easiest of journeys. But I’m lucky; I’m incredibly grateful. I’ve had two healthy pregnancies. I chose to have an invasive procedure at twelve weeks to determine the chromosomal status of both babies as there is a chance I can carry an unhealthy baby to term. From the results, my husband and I could make an informed decision on whether or not to continue with the pregnancy. We are lucky that both babies have been chromosomally ‘normal’, although one is a carrier, but the stress of waiting almost three weeks for the results took its toll and pretty much set the scene for the remainder of the pregnancy. I know of many in my situation (via the wonder of Facebook groups) who have had losses that have reached double digits, some of whom remain childless. A family member with the exact same ‘dodgy chromosomes’ as me had five losses in between her two children.
So why can’t I just be happy and grateful and leave it at that? Cue that mumma guilt AGAIN. The truth is, I am incredibly grateful, but I just can’t help but feel that statistically I shouldn’t be as lucky as I have been. There are so many women I know struggling to have a family, some for no obvious reason, and they deserve to be parents because they are good people. So the fact that I don’t enjoy pregnancy plays heavily on my mind, almost every single day. Coupled with the anxiety of having a second baby: will my relationship with my first born ever be the same; will my son like his new baby sister; can I love another as much as I love my son; some days I struggle to handle one, how will I cope with two. The list goes on. Being pregnant brings me nothing but stress and tears. And the guilt cycle repeats itself over and over again. Nothing will break it because I continually think that I should be happy, but I’m not. This has gone on for eight long months. Eight months of cyclical anxiety and guilt trips. Obviously I can’t talk to people, because, you know, I should Just. Be. Grateful. So I’m alone with the guilt.
Are you reading this thinking, ‘that’s me!’? Well, here’s the thing…you’re not alone! IT’S OK NOT TO ENJOY PREGNANCY! It’s normal. It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful, it means you’re human; you’re growing a mini human and it’s bloody hard work. It’s also perfectly ok to enjoy every minute of pregnancy and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that either (I’m just secretly jealous and want to be you).
Kelly’s ‘Top Tips’ for looking after your prenatal mental health:
Whatever your reasons for not enjoying pregnancy, it’s OK. It’s OK not to be OK. What’s not OK is allowing those feelings to go unchecked.
It’s time to break the stigma. Many parents-to-be are aware of postnatal mental health disorders and what to look out for. But your mental health whilst pregnant is equally important. If you feel like to need to talk to someone, find someone to talk to! It could be face to face with someone impartial like a Health Visitor or GP, or perhaps a close friend or family member who will listen and not imply that you should ‘just be happy’. Alternatively, find support groups online and have a vent. You are not alone in perinatal anxiety or depression. You are not ungrateful for not enjoying pregnancy and whatever feelings you’re feeling just know they are normal.
In Buckinghamshire: http://www.healthymindsbucks.nhs.uk/
For those in the Milton Keynes area, the Facebook group ‘Maternal Mental Health in Milton Keynes’ is excellent.’
Kelly, writing for The Mother Side x