I am now one month from my due date (23/10/2018) and it would be foolish to think that I would be able to get through this month without feeling nervous, scared, upset and panicky. There are also other emotions that I can expect too and I think they’re ones I have neglected throughout this pregnancy so far. I feel excitement, joy, eager anticipation and the all important overwhelming need to nest.
After experiencing the trauma of my birth with Eloise I entered into this pregnancy with quite a high level of anxiety and an expectation that it would be extremely emotionally draining. I think I was so aware of this that it stopped me from allowing any or many positive emotions from rushing in.
Women are told that pregnancy is supposed to be this wonderful time where you will be glowing with positive energy. In my experience, even before the trauma, pregnancy is full of feeling tired, sick, suffering with heartburn, getting big, bloated and swollen and constantly being talked about in terms of your size. Towards the end of pregnancy comes feelings of impatience, being pummelled from the inside and even worse heart burn. So all the comments about how amazing you should feel just add to the emotional turmoil. ‘Why don’t I feel good?’ ‘Does this mean I’ll be a bad mum?’ ‘Does this mean I’m not meant to be a mum?’ ‘Am I bad at this?’ ‘What’s wrong with me?’
I have friends who have struggled with fertility and those who have managed to get pregnant often experience these questions to a much greater degree. They’ve wanted the baby for so long, experienced true heartbreak on a monthly basis and probably promised themselves that if they ever did succeed they would cherish every moment. But then the morning sickness comes, the swollen feet and everything else that makes pregnancy the least glamorous time of a woman’s life. What can we say to these women? Here’s what I say:
‘Yes you want this’, ‘yes you’ll be a fantastic mum’ and ‘yes pregnancy sucks really bad and you have every right to whine and complain like the rest of us.’
So why can’t I be as kind and supportive towards myself? Probably because compassion for myself is not something that comes easily. For some reason I seem to want to hold myself to a higher standard than I would ever expect of someone else. A standard which is impossible to meet. I don’t know when this started. Perhaps it was when I was run over as a child, saw my mum crying in the hospital and thought to myself that I never wanted to make her cry again? Perhaps it was when I was at high school and no matter what I did I just did not fit in? I wasn’t pretty, clever, funny or extroverted enough to gain the attention of teenage girls. Perhaps it was when I ‘allowed’ myself to be sexually assaulted and controlled by a boyfriend in my early 20s? Whenever it was it was a twisted reaction to the things that have happened me. It stemmed from an unhealthy sense of responsibility for everyone else’s behaviour and emotions when really the only person I can control is myself. I guess that’s the word, control. I want to control how people and the world responds to me and I do that by behaving in certain ways and beating myself up when things don’t go the way I intended.
I am almost 36 weeks pregnant, I am probably not going to have another pregnancy so in my final month of pregnancy I have decided to change my attitude. I am going to feel bad at times, I am going to be uncomfortable and lose sleep and I am going to allow myself to be a little b**ch when I feel those things but I am also going to find moments of joy. My mum and sister in law have decided to plan a baby shower for me. In both my previous pregnancies I had baby showers but I didn’t feel happy enough or excited enough to do it this time. I also felt like I didn’t deserve one this time but I was wrong. I have struggled through this pregnancy and even wished it away at times but I do love this baby, I will be a good mum to her and I am already making the right choices for child birth and the months after that will ensure I give new parenthood the best shot I can. So this month I will celebrate, I will laugh and I will allow myself to be excited.
So here we go – the final countdown.