For those of us who have longed to be mothers since girlhood, we have pictured ourselves glowing with joy in our changed bodies, proudly carrying our perfectly round baby bumps. I was so excited to start my family, and being pregnant seemed like a wonderful adventure in preparation for motherhood. As newlyweds, my husband and I jumped in head first, thinking we were ready for what would happen next.
However, when the time came for maternity clothes and ultrasounds, I was experiencing something very different from how I had imagined pregnancy.
Many women have negative experiences with being pregnant due to different reasons. There are many severe complications that can turn those nine months into a period of pain and fear. For some, their pregnancy brought financial stress or strains on their marriage and other relationships. Pregnancy can be turned into a period of grief when some families learn their baby might not survive birth or spend the rest of their lives with severe challenges.
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Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can appear for the first time or become worse during this time of change and uncertainty. Even without any complications or other issues, there are many normal pregnancy symptoms that are anything but fun, such as nausea, body aches, heartburn, and many others.
I know what it’s like to not enjoy what should be one of the best times of our lives.
Complications in my pregnancy brought more visits to the hospital in the first trimester than I had ever anticipated. As I curled up in the fetal position on my bed, I longed for the dreamy pregnancies that so many other women seemed to enjoy. I was afraid the negative feelings I had toward this period of my life meant I wouldn’t enjoy motherhood.
While having kids definitely comes with challenges, I love this season of my life. I love my little people way more than I thought I would even before my illusions of pregnancy were shattered. I wish I could go back to the girl stuck in bed at only 9-weeks pregnant and promise her everything would be OK.
I felt guilty admitting that I didn’t enjoy pregnancy, especially while I was still in the thick of it. It seemed like such an awful thing for a pregnant woman to say, as though I regretted the life blooming inside of me. Only recently have I come to learn that I had no need to feel guilty. What matters is that I love my kids. When I’m pregnant, I long for the day I can hold that baby in my arms.
I understand now that I can appreciate pregnancy for what it is, the means by which I can bring my children into my life, without wishing that things had been different.
While the details of our challenges during pregnancy vary, I see you. I know that at times you may feel like you’re not qualified to be a mom if you can’t handle being pregnant. You feel cheated because nobody told you it could be this hard. I see you mourning something that was supposed to be beautiful but turned out messier than you expected.
You are not less of a woman or less of a mother.
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You still deserve this baby, who is so lucky to be coming home to you. Because you fought so hard for them, you will only cherish these babies more than you thought you ever could.
You are strong. Please don’t ever feel guilty for how you feel toward pregnancy. Instead, do your best to relish what you’re experiencing now—the beauty of motherhood.