I am now 37 weeks pregnant and although my husband and I are so looking forward to meeting our little girl, I realised that I am very quickly drawing to the end of what has possibly been one of the most exciting yet challenging journeys of my life so far.
It’s funny to think that despite knowing so many wonderful women who are also mothers—my mother, my sister, mother and sisters-in-law, cousins, friends, work colleagues—I still felt completely unprepared when I found out I was pregnant.
So now having walked (almost) the whole nine yards of pregnancy, what would I tell my early pregnant self to make the journey to term a little easier?
Firstly, there is no way of knowing how you’ll react emotionally when you find out you’re going to be a mummy for the first time. After trying for a few months without success, when that little plus sign appeared on a stick I’d just so delicately peed on, I was beside myself. It wasn’t so much as “What have I done?’, more a feeling of “What have I signed up for?”
Now I understand that most women, regardless of what stage they are in their lives, realise upon finding out that they are pregnant that they now have a new purpose; that their lives will never be the same and there is no way of knowing just what is in store for them. This can be a daunting prospect. In fact, about two weeks after finding out, I spontaneously burst into tears in mourning for the life I was about to leave behind.
What I’ve learned over the following months, however, was that what I wasn’t saying goodbye to my old life. I was welcoming a new one; one that would bring my husband and I closer than ever before and that would learn more about each other and ourselves in just a few months than we had in the last ten years.
Secondly, there is no way of knowing how your body will react physically when carrying your first child. After thinking I would breeze through the early stages of pregnancy, continuing with my six-day-a-week body attack gym schedule, you can imagine my surprise when at the beginning of my second trimester, I threw up for the first time. For the next eight weeks, I was a mess. I carried doggy poop bags everywhere I went, however often having used up my supply, a t-shirt or towel would have to suffice. I felt weak. I felt like I was failing. This was when I turned to a friend who I knew had experienced extreme morning sickness.
To weak to talk, my text message read, “How do I get through this? I feel like I’m falling apart.” Her response was one of the simplest and most inspiring things I have ever heard. “Unless you are a pregnancy unicorn, it’s not a particularly awesome experience. What I can tell you is that it will get better. I can’t promise that you will be a bubble of energy, but when you feel your little one kick for the first time, your perspective shifts from this sucks, to this sucks but wow there’s a little person growing inside me.”
From such plainly spoken words, I drew the energy to carry on with hope for better days.
So to the slightly younger, definitely thinner, pre-pregnancy me, I say be kind to yourself and appreciate that the unknown is the most exciting part. It’s what makes this journey so unique. And the best is always yet to come…
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