My unexpected journey through parenthood changed my perspective
No two pregnancy journeys are the same. Everyone’s desire for & experience of pregnancy and parenthood is different. I feel as though we don’t discuss the doubtful, confusion-filled portions of parenthood enough. My story includes a great mixture of highs & lows, of backs & forths, but it has ultimately led me to find the greatest level of satisfaction & contentment I’ve ever felt. I hope you can relate to some portion of what I am about to share and know that your story and experience are valid, worthwhile, and important.
My pregnancy was a complete shock. In fact, I initially did not want children and was completely at peace with this choice. Due to the nature of our society, I felt this pressure, as a woman, to have to choose between a career and having children. I started my business at a young age, 19 years old to be precise, and was comfortably set on the idea that my career was my baby. My husband had previously struggled with fertility issues so when we met, we both agreed that children would not be a part of our future. We, therefore, allowed ourselves the freedom to travel, work, go out & live life to the fullest in our own way.
Then…the unexpected happened; I got pregnant. I was shocked, scared & confused. After taking time to reflect & process what I was experiencing, something just clicked…I thought to myself, “I am having this baby.”
I won’t lie, I didn’t love being pregnant. I don’t like out-of-body experiences and I felt as though that’s what I was experiencing during pregnancy. I love being in control of my situation, my surroundings, and my body and that just wasn’t my reality.
Although the birth of my daughter went by smoothly, my postpartum experience was a challenge. We often hear about the joys of newborn life and how although challenges arise, ultimately, everything seems to fall into place for many, but we don’t often hear about the rather subtle, but very REAL postpartum struggles.
No one told me it’s OKAY and NORMAL to feel the way I felt after birth and I think that kind of reassurance is what I needed most of all. I remember looking in the mirror the day after I gave birth and wondering why I still looked pregnant, why my body hadn’t snapped back yet. I had insecurities in regards to my postpartum appearance which in turn caused emotional anxiety & distress, affecting all facets of my life. I struggled with my appearance for MONTHS after having given birth. I initially hadn’t realized how much this insecurity was crippling me. It’s only when my husband confronted me about it that I realized I needed to find techniques to snap out of that negative mindset that was preventing me from enjoying everything & everyone I had around me.
I also didn’t immediately connect with my daughter. It actually took a couple of months to not only ease into a routine but to actually feel as though my daughter and I were connecting, sharing, and growing together. It’s only much later on that I found out that MANY mothers experience this. I also want to take this moment to tell you that although this is difficult to live, it’s NORMAL & OKAY. The connection does come eventually, just like it did with my daughter (she’s my world).
The blend of hardships was weighing increasingly on my emotional state. My husband has always been an extremely present father and partner but I just was not able to appreciate this with everything I was struggling with internally at the time.
Everything I experienced throughout my pregnancy and postpartum experience allowed me to truly determine what my lifelong priorities are; family, my mental health, and work. As long as these three elements of my life are set & healthy, then everything else just seems to fall into place. But it took the struggles, the joys, the confusion, the questions, the hardships & the triumphs of the past few years to realize what truly matters to me.
I now see myself and everything that surrounds me in a completely different light. I understand that my health is about my overall wellbeing, not simply my physical appearance and I take the necessary steps to ensure I am present, grounded, and sane overall. I’ve set out a morning routine for myself that offers me an opportunity to remind myself of my three core values & take care of MYSELF before I begin my day.
I want to take this time to tell you that your parental challenges are VALID. Finding what is truly important to you may be difficult and it may take time and that’s OKAY. We’re not meant to have everything figured out.
Finding and accepting your own pace, letting the good and the bad come and go, and having supportive people that surround & encourage you through thick & thin will place you on the right path to finding your values.
Let’s be real, over half the population worldwide goes through the challenges I described above to some degree or another. It’s time we remove our anxiety-filled filter & share freely & openly for an easier, more fulfilling process. You are ever changing. Your pre-baby self is never coming back, but this NEW you is even better. Cherish her.