(Note: this is not my bump. Just a random stock photo bump!)
I never really expected to feel low during pregnancy. After all, we’d wanted a baby for a long time, and surely everything would just be wonderful as soon as the second line turned up, right?
However, it’s not quite been rainbows and unicorns and plain sailing.
I’m very pleased to be having this baby. We have wanted a baby for a long time and I’m excited to see who this little person is. But my emotions have been all over the place. I have cried a lot. I think I might have been a bit depressed, actually, but saying “I was a bit low during pregnancy” feels less scary.
If you think about it, it makes sense.
Regardless of the extra hormones surging around, there are lots of reasons that it’s actually completely logical that you might feel insecure and unhappy and anxious during pregnancy.
Responsibility is scary.
Particularly if it’s your first pregnancy, isn’t it a weird concept? Up until now, I’ve only really been responsible for myself. (Well, and the rabbits!) Now there will be someone depending on me and my husband for everything. If I make a mistake, this tiny new person might be affected. I’ve changed a grand total of two nappies in my life before, so this is going to be a pretty steep learning curve!
It’s also a huge financial commitment. We should be okay (fingers crossed!), but my not working for a year will obviously make a big dent in our savings.
And of course we’ve had to spend money before baby even arrives. Even though we’re taking the cheap way out a lot of the time (yeah, eBay!) and have very generous family, the cost of the basics does add up. I’m very hopeful that breastfeeding and cloth nappying will work out because that will save us a lot.
Physical changes hurt!
This is going to sound silly, but adjusting to a whole new body and a whole new wardrobe has been hard. I was fairly secure in my fashion sense – I knew what I liked and I liked what I wore. Now I look in the mirror and it’s my head on another body. I’m getting used to it, but it’s strange!
I used to be really active. I took two or three dance classes a week and loved them. I could touch my toes easily. Now sometimes I have to catch my breath after going up the stairs too fast. I’m constantly asking my husband if he could walk a bit slower, please.
There are more aches and pains than I expected. Baby is in an okay place right now, but the week before last was agonisingly painful at times!
Are you sleeping well? Because I’m not! I’ve had one successful night of sleeping through all week. It’s preparation for when baby arrives, I suppose, but I’ve never been good at staying level-headed when I’m sleep deprived.
There’s also the terrifying anticipation of the birth. I’m usually pretty anxious about medical-related things – partly because I’ve been rather blessed not to need medical intervention for most of my life. It’s all new to me. The thought of willingly going to a hospital and putting myself through something that’s going to be very very painful – well, that just scares me. I don’t like to think about it too much. (However, I’m also not thinking of a homebirth for my first either – that scares me even more!)
Other people suck.
Oh goodness, I think this has been the worst part, for me. It’s to be expected, though. Other people were the worst part of wedding planning for me as well, so it’s not surprising that they’d contribute to my feeling low during pregnancy as well.
“You must be so happy! This should be the happiest time of your life!”
“Hm, you look very small. Are you sure baby’s growing properly?”
“I don’t think you should be feeling this sick – I never felt that bad when I was pregnant. Are you sure nothing’s wrong?”
“It’s not normal to be that tired. I know your midwife said it’s okay, but I’ve had three children and never felt tired!”
Argh just be quiet now! I’m already so incredibly anxious, but sure, you go ahead and worry me even further.
Everyone has a view, don’t they? Everyone wants to share their terrifying tale of childbirth and they use words like “tearing” and “excruciating” and why the hell would you say this to a pregnant lady? What do they think my response is going to be? Am I going to change my mind and say I’d rather not go through with it now? No. I’m having this baby and you’re scaring me, so shut up.
Will I ever stop feeling low during pregnancy? What helps?
It’s getting a lot better for me. I think weeks 22-26 were some of the worst in terms of emotions, for me. By the time I got to my 28 week midwife appointment, I didn’t feel like I necessarily needed to mention that I’d been feeling low during pregnancy as I was feeling so much better. So it can get better!
I’d advise talking to someone, though, if you’re struggling. Those worst weeks were pretty rough and I wish I’d spoken out to someone, rather than just laying the entire burden on my poor husband.
I was so afraid that I’d be judged for feeling out of my depth or anxious, but I’m not sure why – I know I wouldn’t judge a friend who came to me and said she was feeling like that. I know people who are currently pregnant and on antidepressants and I think, good for them. They’re doing the right thing for themselves and their babies.
And yet I’m so nervous even writing this blog post, which is crazy. We women are too hard on ourselves.
For me, the big things that helped were:
- Doing things that had nothing to do with pregnancy whatsoever. One day my husband and I took a trip to a local Roman fort and then went out and had a pub lunch. It was lovely and the kind of thing we used to do. I’d not realised how much I missed just doing fun things.
- Taking some time off work when I really couldn’t do it any more. I booked a few days off at the very last minute, and it really did help.
- Reading about mindfulness. I started reading Mindful Hypnobirthing and some of the affirmations in there made me feel more like I could handle childbirth. I still don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park, but knowing that other women have coped with it does help. Look around you at all the women who have had children and survived. Most of them aren’t scarred for life! (I’ve written a bit more about the books that I’ve been reading during pregnancy here.)
- Waiting it out. I know in some cases this isn’t possible, and there were days that I’m not actually sure this was the wisest course of action because I spent the entire day crying. But in the end, I am feeling happy now.
I’m now at about the point where I can say I’m actually enjoying the experience of pregnancy. It’s going way too fast, though – I’m so not ready for this yet! I’m 30 weeks now. I can’t believe that baby could be here next month.