Throughout my pregnancy I experienced all the predictable highs and lows. From feeling my baby’s first kicks, to feeling like I wasn’t feeling her kick enough. From the delight of “eating for two”, to panicking about accidentally consuming raw cheese. I enjoyed buying baby clothes, taking belly pics and relaxing through meditation and yoga, but I could have gone without the swelling, the tiny bladder, shortness of breath and the restless nights spent trying to get comfy with my body pillow.
While I loved connecting with the life growing inside of me what really helped get me through the tough days were the unexpected joys that gave me a whole new appreciation for being a mother-to-be.
At 28 weeks along I was heading home for the holidays. For the first time I really felt pregnant, especially as I squeezed my way through the airport and onto the crowded plane. After struggling to pull a book out of my bag from under the seat in front of me, I was surprised at how easy it was to prop the book up on my “bump” to read. Over the days that followed it also served as a convenient snack shelf and coffee cup holder. Soon I was using it to balance giant kombucha bottles while texting and wondering how I would manage without it after giving birth. Though I eventually learned that I would continue to have a shelf for several weeks afterwards…
Once I started to “pop” – grocery clerks would turn to me and ask “Do you need any help out today, Miss?” First, my 42 year old self is still a sucker for anyone that still refers to me as “Miss” and second, I felt like I’d been transported back to the golden age of Hollywood. I didn’t know this was still a thing. My feminist self resisted until I realized that I really DID need help out with my groceries so I finally said YES, and it was lovely. I would pull out of the parking lot feeling like Betty Draper (on a good day).
Athletic? Really? Really.
Physically, I slowed way down during my pregnancy. As a former marathon runner who could easily spend 90 minutes on a treadmill, I wasn’t used to doing so little. But no matter. Because when you’re pregnant people treat you like an Olympian if you climb a flight of stairs. So the fact that I was holding a squat for a minute or two, balancing in a tree pose in yoga and hiking during my third trimester made me feel like I could do anything. Which, it turns out, was a good mental preparation for childbirth…
I knew I would be tired. I knew I needed to rest. But I didn’t realize how easy it would be to whip this out as an excuse all the time. Gone were the days of suffering through obligatory awkward social gatherings. When you are pregnant and you don’t feel like doing something you just don’t go and everyone “gets it.” I would love to give specific examples, but that would blow my cover…
One week after my due date I was still pregnant. My doctor started floating around the idea of an induction (ok, maybe more than “float”) which I wanted to avoid. I picked up the phone and called an acupuncturist, who specialized in treating pregnant women. She had me come in immediately, squeezing me into her very tight schedule. For the next week she and her staff provided unwavering physical and emotional support as I struggled with the anxieties of being past my due date. They instilled in me the confidence to stand up for myself and my baby, while encouraging my body to let go.
During this time it hit me how many talented women I had met throughout my pregnancy who were nurturing and instructive as they instilled in me the ability to be strong, yet supple. From the childbirth educators who shared their vast knowledge, to prenatal yoga instructors who led me through hundreds of squats (but also extra long savasanas), to my doula who was by my side reminding me to move and breathe during what ended up being a 31 hour (but not induced!) labor. All of these women taught me to believe in myself, honor my intuition and to keep going. In short, they taught me so much about what it is to be a mother as they welcomed me into a tribe where the work never stops, and the unexpected joys are endless.
Using my belly as a shelf.
Learning chivalry is not dead.
Feeling very athletic.
Athletic? Really? Really.
Holding a golden ticket to get out of everything.
Being welcomed into a tribe of strong, nurturing, and supportive women.
Are you pregnant or new to motherhood?
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