Have you ever felt out of control, lost, stuck, self-conscious? Have your emotions been on a roller coaster, had constant heart burn, the inability to use your abs or move the way that makes you feel good, and the inability to eat normal meals due to your stomach feeling squished?
These are just some of the things that have come up during my pregnancy. You are probably thinking to yourself, “how fun!” For those of you who are reading this who loved being pregnant I truly am happy for you, that is a gift. If I said that I am in love with being pregnant…well, I would be lying. Going through pregnancy has been one of the most challenging internal struggles I have had in a long time. While I am excited about the outcome, I feel a bit out of control which is a very vulnerable place for me.
You see I am a go getter, a breaking the glass ceiling kind of woman, doing her own thing, who suffered with body dysmorphia and an eating disorder called bulimia for many years in her 20’s. Thankfully I had reached a place of self- love, a healthy eating pattern, and a healthy body. I had developed a rhythm of life that kept me healthy.
Then pregnancy hit. At 35 after trying for 1.5 years, my husband and I did get pregnant, but ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks. While this was a challenging experience, I knew deep down that I COULD get pregnant which was a really nice feeling and a total blessing. 3 months later, I was pregnant again.
While my husband and I were so excited and thankful, the challenging journey of pregnancy began for me. Changes happened that were not all comfortable. In the first trimester I was hungrier than I ever had been in many years. It was a kind of hunger that could not be satisfied, and this was uncomfortable for me as a former food addict. I had felt this kind of hunger and craving for food as a suffering bulimic. However, this time it was different. I knew that I needed to eat, and that I was keeping my food in, not letting it go. I knew I was feeling this way not because I was seeking a release (purge), but had a growing being inside me that needed nourishment too.
As you can probably imagine, I also started gaining weight rapidly from eating more which did not help my feeling of being out of control. When I would throw hints at friends or colleagues about the eating, most of the advice was simply, “just let yourself eat Theresa; this is the time you are free to do what you want; don’t worry about it.” While I appreciate this advice, this is tough for a recovering food addict. I do not want to just eat whatever or let myself go. I want to be healthy.
In my 2nd trimester my appetite returned to normal, at which point the food fears were replaced by a different obstacle. During our 20-week ultrasound, the sonographer and physician could not see a number of necessary brain structures. The prognosis was a strong likelihood of significant development disabilities, and we were then shepherded to a room where our termination opens were presented to us.
I wanted to kick myself because going into this ultrasound I was almost cocky, just as I would be going into a game that I was over prepared for and knew I would win. Knowing how healthy I was I felt nothing could be wrong with my child. Needless to say, this news threw both my husband and I for a loop and caused great sadness. While we held hope, there was so much varying medical information out there to read; it was overwhelming. I often didn’t want to get out of bed. Feeling that a loss may happen, or may not, left me feeling very low. I had already lost both parents and a lot of my extended family, I was not sure what another loss would do to me.
Thankfully the next set of tests we requested at 23 weeks were deemed normal and the chances our child was healthy improved significantly. The cloud of stress and sadness was nearly lifted. A level of anxiety persisted, and we forged onward.
My 3rd trimester rolled around and my belly got big, the clothes much tighter, and my maternity wardrobe grew. My movement slowed, I could not eat very much due to limited space, and my mind scattered. The demands on me at work have not slowed, but have increased due to some exciting opportunities that add to my anxiety. In a time that I need to be preparing for birth, I am not. When asked in my birthing class how I bond with my baby, I made up my answer. Because besides random pokes or rubbing of the belly, I had not been spending ample time on this, which was in stark contrast to all the other Moms in the room.
As a new Mom with an unborn child, I realize that even with not feeling as prepared as other Moms, struggling with the highs and lows of mood, the discomfort of eating at times, the weight gain, the anxiety…this is an amazing time and opportunity in my life that is a gift. Despite all the struggles, what is happening is a gift. While I do not LOVE the process of pregnancy, I love the opportunity and the end product – a child. I love what this child will offer the world and to my husband and me, and what we can offer it unconditionally.
While loving the process of my pregnancy is not realistic, loving the purpose behind it is!!
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