There are so many joys during pregnancy. Aside from the vomiting, leg spasms, back pain, digestive discomfort, tiredness, general discomfort…… etc., feeling the baby move, having a husband who is totally enamoured of you, your belly and your “glow” and preparing for such an emotionally-fuelled and beautiful experience, somehow make it all worth it. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t days when the crap, physical and emotional can get you down.
I have spoken to women who claim total bliss and unending positivity around their pregnancies. I have met those who hated pregnancy and were thrilled when it was finally done. I have met couples who find it blissful and those who are highly anticipating the birth, ignoring the process of gestation all together. We all deal with this crazy transition, the biggest change of a person’s life, in different ways. But there are few of us who don’t go through some version of mourning and in its own way, it can be an empowering and beautiful thing.
At the beginning of my pregnancy I was already mourning the end of an era. The end of freedom and nights out on the town. The end of the lifestyle we always knew and the relationship we were familiar with. Before you start showing but while the morning sickness is at its worst, it is especially hard to see the beauty or feel the love, but it is very easy to cry through the overwhelming feelings associated with hormones and change.
Then I entered an amazing stage when, despite big changes and occasional feelings of mild panic, I was excited and in love. My husband and I have had months of rubbing my belly and dreaming of what the baby will be like. We have spent countless hours talking about the way our lives will change, how to manage our finances, our privacy, our social lives, travel, family, cleaning, child care, intimacy… you name it. I embraced and loved my body despite the growth and changes and then we hit eight months.
There is a lot I have anticipated. I have taken a doula certification course, I have done tons of research and have loads of support from family, my doula and maternal support practitioners back in Canada. I like to consider myself mindful of my emotions and I tend to anticipate times of stress and change. But mourning, as much as it is anticipated, can be hard.
The final weeks of my pregnancy are approaching and as this happens I can see myself mourning it. I can’t wait to meet this little guy. I could not be more excited to see what he is like and even to experience labour for myself. But pregnancy has been life changing in itself and when he comes, screaming into this world, I know I will be overwhelmed. Not just with love but also with change.
I will become a mom. My identity as I know it will be forever altered. Even now as the “pregnant lady”, I have experienced a shift in how I perceived myself and most certainly how others perceive me. I see stretch marks and cellulite. My belly has expanded beyond what feels natural and I wonder if I will ever be attractive again. So again, I face a form of mourning. Mourning my body and my identity as I know it.
My husband and I can’t wait to be parents. I have no doubt that he will be a spectacular father. We love family time and mini adventures, we love spending time at home just the two of us and being able to welcome a third mini-us into it all is exciting as all hell. And scary. We are mourning our youth and the freedom we have enjoyed to live on a whim and be whoever, whatever, whenever.
This is where the blissful sense of renewal must enter. I don’t pretend to be someone who is mega positive all the time, or unrealistically joyful over everything that pregnancy offers. But I also haven’t hated pregnancy. I have felt it all. I have gotten in touch with my deepest self and tried to anticipate my emotional responses. This feeling of mourning being just one of them. But rather than holding onto unrealistic positivity or a negative response to this whole big change, I am choosing to experience renewal.
In whatever form that happens to take, I am choosing to be empowered by this change and I am choosing to remind myself that despite all that I perceive to be losing, I am gaining the most amazing thing in the world. The experience of being a mother, a partner, a new person with a new journey and I know that I am sure as hell strong enough to be whatever it is I happen to be growing into. So I accept the mourning period and might allow myself a little cry or weepy day of mild hormonal distress. But I will enjoy every flutter (and jab), I will now downplay the discomfort, but find joy in a nightly back rub from my husband. I will be sad about my changing body and work hard to feel great about it whenever I can. I will be excited as hell for this birth and understand that I have no idea what I am in for.