Updated: Aug 11, 2019
You may hear of (or be) the type of woman who just glows throughout her pregnancy and enjoys every minute of it. Some say they've never felt more connected to their body as in pregnancy.
I'm not one of those women.
Now in my third trimester with my second child, I can safely say: I have not been and will never be someone who "enjoys" pregnancy. I endure the process because I love my kids and I enjoy getting to show them our wild, messy, magnificent world in hopes that they will do better by it than I have or my parents' generation or the ones before them. But the process of actually growing a human I find utterly disconnecting and terrifying.
I thought it would get better the second time around since I had some experience, but that has not been the case.
And you know what? That's ok.
I don't have to pretend and spend inordinate amounts of time trying to recite mantras about how beautiful my body is and how wonderful this time is if it just doesn't feel like it right now.
My story may be unique, but then again, it might not be...
I had an eating disorder in late high school and early college years. I struggled with accepting my body and opted for trying to control it at every aspect from what came in to what came out and how many ways I could decrease the former and increase the latter.
Then I spent years, almost a decade, recovering trust with my body and developing a relationship rather than forcing it to obey me like some kind of rouge pet.
I had finally reached a place I could call "home" in my body. I stopped weighing myself. I learned the difference between calorie dense and nutrient dense and how to fuel my dynamic integrated body in this dynamic integrated universe (read: both have needs and requirements that are constantly changing from day to day and moment to moment).
Then I got pregnant with my first child. And everything I thought I could trust about my body seemed to betray me.
I wasn't thirsty or hungry, I was just nauseous all day. Every day. I had to force myself to eat (in an ironic turn of events from my eating disordered past) and take a multitude of vitamins (something which I had recently been backing off of in favor of a varied diet).
I didn't feel like myself. And I didn't feel like my body was my own. It left me for taking care of this tiny human and I was just being dragged along in the process. While it is an incredible miracle to grow and birth a human, it is also an incredibly foreign process.
We know SO much about pregnancy and health. And yet, we can't predict what your experience will be like.
As pregnancy progressed, I read all the latest research and signed up with birth midwives. I did all the exercises/stretches, drank all the teas, ate all the nutrients, meditated, and took my prenatal vitamins religiously. Even when I was puking daily.
And you know what happened? With my first, I had a 36 hour labor that ended in a C section with me on antibiotics because of an infection that I acquired during labor.
You can do everything exactly as the text books say and you can still end up on an ultrasound table waiting with bated breath to hear if you still have a baby after a terrifying hemorrhage experience. You can do everything we know to do, and you can still end up with an infection and emergency C section. You can take all the probiotics and eat all the fiber, and still not poop for a week because of the pain killers and trauma your body went through. You can do scar tissue rolling every day for a year and a half and still have gnarly scar with heavy scar tissue. You can do everything "right" and still not be guaranteed a "quick," "easy" conception, pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
Pregnancy disconnects everything I thought to be true about my body and my health previously.
I thought I was in control.
That what I put in and how I treated my body would guarantee to make the difference in outcomes.
But you know what? We aren't in complete control.
We don't know how your exact body in this exact season of life with these exact nutrients, or exercise, or sleep, or what have you, will respond. It is much like planting a garden: you plant with the best of intentions: giving the essentials necessary to create the desired outcome, and then you wait. watch. make slight adjustments as the days go along. but ultimately, you won't know for some time if the effort you put forth works with the current climate, soil, local animal, and environmental conditions.
You are only in charge of the inputs. You cannot control the outputs of your health.
That is not to discount what we do know. And of what we do know, we can definitely put into practice: eat plants. drink water. move. sleep. But you are a dynamic human being in a dynamic universe. Change in the only constant. So rather than fight it. Hate it. And fear it. We can embrace it.
All we can do is take the basic concepts and learn how to apply them in varying and dynamic contexts.
You do the best you can with the tools you have at the time. And you learn to love the dynamic of change because it means you're growing. learning. and becoming.