I don’t love being pregnant. Admitting that doesn’t make me callous; it just makes me willing to be open about something that other people are quick to pass judgment on.
Pregnancy is hard. Full stop. It’s hard on our bodies, our hormones, as well as our emotional and mental health. It can make getting through our daily routine a challenge, even during the easiest of pregnancies.
Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t expect that creating human life would be a walk in the park. My baby has fingers, eyeballs and a central nervous system…all of which he developed while living inside me. That is some superhero sh*t right there, and I can assure you that Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent had some tough days too. However, I didn’t expect them to be this tough.
As I type, I am 33 weeks into my second pregnancy and I’m pretty damn near my tipping point. I spent much of my first trimester on bed rest with a subchorionic hematoma. An SCH is basically a blood blister living alongside your baby, and, like with any injury, you don't want to risk it growing or being further aggravated, which could pose serious risk to the pregnancy. Therefore, I said bon voyage to any muscle definition that may have helped me get through these later months. I’m currently rocking an oh-so glamorous boot on my left foot because of a stress fracture (the perfect way to round out the last few weeks) caused by chasing around a toddler after being relieved from bed rest. I’ve also managed to experience every cold-season ailment courtesy of my preschool-aged first born, and have been seeing a prenatal chiropractor regularly because my knees feel like they’re about to give out and I’m pretty sure my vagina is going to pop off. Oh, I also ended up in the Obstetrics ER a few weeks ago because I tripped over my own feet, and now my entire body is one, large muscle knot.
So like I said, I don’t love pregnancy, but, to be fair, I’m an equal opportunist when it comes to disliking these 40 weeks. My first pregnancy was textbook; not a single complication or hiccup. I stayed active and healthy while managing to avoid the usual suspects (nausea, heartburn, reflux, swelling, etc.) and I still didn’t enjoy feeling so out of control of my own body. I distinctly remember spending most of my third trimester sobbing because my husband had to “spot me” while I walked up our stairs. I wasn’t myself, and that was a hard thing to grapple with as a woman who spent her whole life developing her identity.
I know some people may read this and feel like I’m ungrateful for the miracle of life happening within me; they might feel like I should appreciate this blessing and quit bemoaning my own aches and pains because I’m doing it for my child. And for many of women, conceiving children is a painful struggle and my flippant attitude can be seen as disrespectful or without compassion.
I see you, ladies. I really do; however, I don’t understand how my struggle with pregnancy in any way means that I’m not incredibly humbled and grateful for my child. I don’t believe one begets the other. I can thank God every day for my son while not necessarily loving the fact that I had to shove daily progesterone suppositories up my lady business for the first few months. I’m capable of experiencing two contrasting feelings at once. (I am woman, hear me roar!)
My being honest about my feelings doesn’t mean I’m going out of my way to be insensitive to women who struggle with pregnancy…because I was one of them. We tried for quite a while before seeking the help of an infertility doctor where I was poked, prodded and pricked daily. After I discovered I was pregnant, I spent weeks hemorrhaging and still had a 50 percent shot of losing the child we had hoped and prayed for. I am more in love with my son than anyone reading this could ever know; however, that doesn’t mean I have to love the fact that my jawline lacks any definition and it feels like my bones are about to explode out of my feet.
Mom shaming is such an unfortunate epidemic in today’s culture, and berating women who are honest about the challenges of pregnancy is just another form of it. “Congratulations, ladies! You can feel like a crap parent before your child is even born! Welcome to motherhood!”
Every pregnancy is different, and every woman is allowed to experience it differently. If you’re one of those lovely unicorn women who adore pregnancy, that’s sincerely amazing. You’re stronger than I am, and deserve all the praise emojis. But I’m also entitled to my feelings as much as you are to yours. I’m allowed to dislike pregnancy just as much as you’re allowed to enjoy it. Look, I’m not asking to not be pregnant. I’m here, I’m doing it and I pray to see this thing through to full-term. All I’m doing is asking for the right to bitch and moan about the fact that I’m hosting another human being in my body.
I don’t feel like that’s asking for much.
Leslie Bruce is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning entertainment journalist. She launched her parenting platform Unpacified as a place for like-minded women to come together on relatable ground, no matter how shaky, to discuss motherhood through an unfiltered, judgment-free lens of honesty and humor. Her motto is: ‘Being a mom is everything, but it's not all there is.’ Leslie lives in Laguna Beach, California with her husband, Yashaar, their 3-year-old daughter, Tallulah, and looks forward to welcoming a baby boy this spring.
Published April 2018