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I’m in the last days before my due date I wanted to give one final update! Those of you who have been pregnant might remember the very special mental workings of being 39+ weeks pregnant. I swing between “baby will come when he’s ready!” and “I’ll be pregnant forever” on a regular basis (like, seriously, about ever 5 minutes or so). I feel lucky that we haven’t had the need to schedule an induction or c-section (yet), but also jealous of friends and clients that know the last possible day they’ll be pregnant.

While in some moments I fear I may be pregnant forever, the rational part of my brain knows that eventually this little dude will come out (or be kicked out), and I won’t be pregnant any longer (even just typing that makes me want to set off fireworks and do back flips!). But while I’ve got the chance, before the baby madness sets in, I wanted to write some of what I think I’ve learned from this pregnancy. When people find out what I do for a living and that this is my first pregnancy they almost always ask, “Do you feel like you’re better able to relate to your clients? What have you learned?” I think it will actually take some time for me to process all that this pregnancy has taught me, but for now I know that I’m ending this nine months in a very different place than where I started.

Working with pregnant women for the last eight and a half years meant that I was coming into pregnancy with all the information, all the resources, and all the support. I literally could not have had a better set up: a flexible, supportive job, tons of clients turned friends with experience and advice,  an encouraging, interested spouse, to say nothing of being an expert in the science and psychology of a normal pregnancy.  I felt (and feel) so lucky to have had all of this at my disposal- I could not have felt more supported, cared for, and informed. And…yet.

The thing that being pregnant that my 10,000 pregnant clients couldn’t teach me is that being pregnant is…grueling. Even though I’d see some clients many times a week, I didn’t understand that it’s a long, long marathon with no breaks (and really, THIS is why I missed drinking- it would have at least felt like a tiny break). There is no way to just NOT be pregnant for an hour or two. This is true for all pregnant women, but it’s especially brutal for someone having a difficult pregnancy.  And for that person who is having a hard time the relentlessness of pregnancy often overwhelms all the support and resources and information a woman might have.

I’ve written some about it here and I want to be clear: being pregnant was very very hard for me. It was difficult physically—nine months of nausea and vomiting — and also (or perhaps, because of that),  difficult psychologically. Difficult might not even be a strong enough word.  It’s not that I expected to be an “ I ADORE being pregnant! “ type of person, but I also didn’t expect to feel so….defeated by it. A hard pregnancy can come in many different varieties- it can be bad or scary test results, debilitating SI pain, prenatal depression, or any other number of conditions. Mine took a specific form, but I think the specifics are less important than the experience of finding the whole thing very tough. And so when friends ask if I can relate better to clients now that I’ve been pregnant, it makes me laugh some. I think I can relate to so much better to women for whom pregnancy is a slog, or a hard experience. As for the women who love being pregnant, I feel farther away (and more envious)  than ever. Mostly, when I now see a pregnant woman, rather than being a font of advice for her (like I was for years), I mostly want to give her hug.

So now, I wait. My days being pregnant are limited (despite my middle of the night fears that I’ll be pregnant forever), and I know there’s a whole world that’s about to open up to me. I’m left thinking of the advice I’ve given to clients who don’t enjoy being pregnant: “How you experience and feel about pregnancy has nothing to do with how you experience and feel about motherhood.”  I’m certain that advice will stand. The only thing that’s more exciting than knowing soon I won’t be pregnant is that soon I get to be a mom. I’m so thankful that I got pregnant, and was able to carry to term, as hard as the experience was. I’m so so excited. But also? I’m humbled. Pregnancy has humbled me. And from what I’ve heard, I’m sure motherhood will too.

 

Kathleen Donahoe is co-owner and senior instructor of Oh Baby! Fitness.

Photo by Stacey Bode Photography.

 

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9 thoughts on “What being pregnant taught me that 10,000 pregnant women couldn’t

  • December 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm
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    Great post K! I agree, I really hated being pregnant! Both times! Being bed rested was no fun but I think even if I hadn’t been I would have disliked it just as much. It is a long ride that feels like FOREVER but I’m sure the one common theme you here from every mom is, ‘It’s all worth it’. After you get through the ‘new mom’ stuff I promise there will be a day in your near future when you’ll look back at it all and say those words. Good luck! I can’t wait to meet the little munchkin!

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    • December 17, 2013 at 11:41 am
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      I heard that phrase so much, and can’t wait to become that person that says it to others! Thanks for all the good thoughts!

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  • December 16, 2013 at 9:24 pm
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    Only a few more days…. This time is hard, but you and your son are blessed to know that your lives were formed from love. Your grandparents, your mom and dad, you and jon, and all your extended family have given your son the foundation on which he will grow to be an amazing young man to be proud of! Love to you, and remember… this will all be a distance memory when you lay eyes upon your child for the first time.

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  • December 17, 2013 at 1:25 am
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    Erin Kathleen – you are such a wonderful writer. I think many women would relate to the terms ‘grueling’ & ‘marathon.’ Your honesty about your journey is refreshing and we are all holding you in our thoughts as you make this last lap to the finish line. Love, the Stedman, Ogden, Dickey cheering section.

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    • December 17, 2013 at 11:40 am
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      Thanks Lynn– I can feel all the good thoughts! And can’t wait to introduce the little guy to all his friends all over America!

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  • December 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm
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    Congratulations Kathleen! You’re almost there! Pregnancy was incredibly rough for me as well. You are right, I don’t think there is a word in the english language to define how difficult a difficult pregnant truly is. I am still in awe of mom’s who had easy breezy pregnancies and it’s incredibly hard to relate to that experience. I remember in those last days I just wish I knew the time when she was going to come, exactly what it would feel like and exactly how I would know it was about to happen. You will get there, he will come, you won’t be pregnant forever I promise (I’ve got my money on a Christmas baby!) Big hugs to you and your husband. I’ve been there, you will be a PHENOMENAL mother, I can’t wait for you to experience motherhood.

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  • December 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm
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    Thank you Alicia! It’s such a weird in-between state- knowing he’ll be here soon but having no idea what is about to hit us! Thanks for all the good thoughts. Can’t wait to join you on the other side!

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  • December 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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    Well said Kathleen!! Its funny how this whole process changes us in ways we never could have foreseen 🙂 I wish you all the best in the coming months!

    Reply

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