Lately, almost every day I reach a point in the evening where I throw up my hands and wail in despair “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” To which my husband replies “I do”, and points to my round protruding belly.
Now that might sound like he’s being mean, but really he’s not. My poor husband has been trying to convince me for months of the obvious fact that I am pregnant. More than that really, he’s been trying to convince me that it’s OK to be pregnant.
You see, I hate being limited. I refuse to admit it when I’m on the verge of passing out after church on Sunday, and even when my husband suggests that I go take a nap while he watches the kids, I feel guilty for “wasting time” napping. I feel guilty all the way up the stairs to my room until I pass out for 2 hours straight and wake up thinking “wow, I guess I really did need that nap.”
My hips ache, so it’s not as easy to pick up the toys off the floor, but wouldn’t I be a failure if I left them there? So I crawl around trying to collect all the toys, and I find myself shouting directions to my kids from the couch, and getting frustrated when we can’t achieve everything I wanted to get done.
Instead of being OK with some extra toys on the floor, or realizing that some of my parenting will change as I get closer to my due date and eventually have a newborn baby that I am looking after, I get fed up with myself. All the little things I am “failing” to keep up with through each day add up to frustration, which in turn makes me more impatient as a parent. My perfectionism kicks in again, and nothing I do is good enough.
And in my mind it’s all because I am pregnant!
This is the first pregnancy that I’ve allowed myself to face the fact that for me, pregnancy triggers shame.
It took some time for me to be OK with my body during pregnancy, but (other than a few insecurities here and there) I’ve been doing better with body image. I’ve learned to embrace how my body can carry and provide for the little life inside, even if that means weight gain and stretch marks.
However, I am still battling negative self-image in other ways.
Instead of embracing what my body can do in this stage of pregnancy, I resent every little ache and pain because it slows me down. If I take the rest I need and try to relax about my to-do list, I hear the old tapes playing in my head, telling me that I am lazy and selfish. But when I push myself to try to keep up with what I am capable of when I’m not pregnant, I end up paying for it later when I am aching and contracting on the couch.
For some reason, being pregnant brings back old insecurities. I remember my mom being pregnant, exhausted and emotional, always after us kids for all the work we were making. I remember running the house while she tried to sleep or was confined to bed with infections or back pain. I was never quite able to do it all correctly, I was always behind, it was never good enough. I always told myself that I would not do that to my kids, and most of the time I am confident that I am not my mother. But when my body lets me down, all the old fears of letting my kids down despite my best efforts come rushing back.
So I fight it. I try to fix the old messages by falling into the old patterns.
And it never works. It just ends with me wailing “what is wrong with me?”
Whether I want to admit it or not, I am 7 months pregnant. It takes effort to get off the couch, and even more to get off of the floor. Sometimes I have to change my outfit 3 times before I find a shirt that still covers my belly. I can’t lie on the floor and wrestle with my kids anymore. Sometimes I can’t get comfortable at night (despite my 3 pillows) and sometimes I can’t keep my eyes open during the day.
I may be more limited in my physical abilities that I would like, but being pregnant does not mean I am a different person, a worse mommy, or an undesirable spouse.
I can remember to accept my limitations and appreciate what I CAN do.
I’m pregnant, and that’s OK.