Tomorrow marks 17 weeks pregnant for me! And next week, I’ll be finding out the gender of our little one. If you have any guesses, write them in the comments below and stay tuned!
Honestly, I never thought I’d get to this point for two reasons. The first being that after a miscarriage this past summer I’ve caught myself expecting the worst at the doctor appointments rather than the best. Every time I go in and still hear a healthy heartbeat feels like a huge win…although the feelings of doubt around this pregnancy are beginning to fade as my tummy continues to grow!
Second, it hasn’t been easy. As long as I can remember I’ve been excited about the pregnancy stage of my life. Wrapping my head around being a mom is a different story, but the idea of being pregnant always seemed like a blast. I envisioned myself eating lots of peanut butter and ice cream, wearing long flowy dresses with a baby bump and looking more beautiful than ever. I just had this knowing that I’d be one of those women who felt amazing during pregnancy and it’d be one of the happiest times of my life.
My experience so far has been nothing like this.
I almost feel guilty for saying it, but I haven’t really enjoyed being pregnant yet. It’s brought on a lot of anxiety, my first trimester was plagued with morning sickness and extreme fatigue, and I barely had the energy to put decent clothes on let alone write a blog post or put in a full day’s work. While I’m grateful for the blessing of pregnancy, it’s been hard to comprehend that my body is changing in ways I can’t control and don’t always understand.
I am happy to say that each day now I continue to feel better and better, I’m thrilled to be enjoying the spring weather and have let a lot of the anxiety go around worrying if the baby is healthy and if my body is healthy. New strange symptoms still bring up some “oh no, what is that?!” moments, but I’m dealing with it by enjoying the present moment, making the most out of my days and no longer allowing myself to get hung up on researching symptoms or listening to scary pregnancy or birth stories.
So here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about self-love during my pregnancy:
1. The best way I know to get out of the weeds of anxiety coming up is to focus on the outcome that you want to have.
I envision myself with a happy, healthy baby feeling relaxed, beautiful and calm. I literally create a vision of this, breathe deeply and let myself feel joyful as I bring it to light. This technique can work for pretty much anything in your life when you’re unsure how to get from point A to point B. Whether it’s wanting to be in a loving relationship, get a better job, or just feel more at ease….close your eyes and take a few minutes to envision yourself this way. This should change your feelings in the present moment and allow them to seep into your life. And don’t worry, the details will take care of themselves. Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees!
2. When going through a painful emotion or situation, it’s best to allow and deal with it head on.
I was personally dealing with some painful things and emotions, and with all the hormones flying around they came at me ten fold! Normally if I was feeling well I may have avoided these emotions in a number of ways. I could stay as busy as possible, I could drown myself in work, I could go out and have a glass of wine with my friends. But since I was physically feeling so crappy, I couldn’t do any of these things to avoid my emotions or problems.
Instead, I took the steps I needed to move through it. I sought out help from others, I did a ton of journaling, I re-connected to my spiritual self through meditation, and some days would just lay on the couch and allow the feelings to be there and flow through with some self-reflection and awareness. I also stopped fighting feeling sick, and rather just surrendered to the process and reminded myself that “this too shall pass”.
3. Your body really does know best.
Like I mentioned, I always thought pregnancy would be awesome because I could give into every craving! But I’ve been incredibly surprised to learn what my cravings actually are. I’ve bought ice cream and potato chips only to find myself sick of it after a few bites and noticing how they would make me feel worse than ever. Instead, I’m craving lots of healthy, plant-based foods, and when I started eating them I can’t get enough!
My body was rejecting all the processed stuff I was trying to give it and reminding me what it really needs. I’ve had to become hyper-aware of the importance of self-care during this time while also being realistic about it. Zumba class just isn’t going to happen right now (maybe one day), but at least I can get out for a 20 minute walk with the dogs or go to a gentle yoga class. We have to start somewhere, so start by focusing on the small wins!
4. The true meaning of unconditional love.
I was listening to a recording by Wayne Dyer and he was talking about unconditional love. He was saying how love is the force behind all things, the stuff that everything is made of, and that we can all heal through unconditional love. The definition here of unconditional love is that it is always patient, it is kind, it is filled with gratitude, it is forgiving, it does not anger and it does not hold onto resentments of past wrongs. He spoke of this and how to use it to improve relationships or to not anger even when you feel someone is misbehaving poorly towards you. If you’re feeling ambitious, try going on a 3-day program where you act towards everyone and everything with nothing but unconditional love.
However, it also got me thinking about self-love. What about when we feel we have done something wrong or behaved poorly? What if when that destructive guilt or anger is towards ourselves? I believe this is the true meaning of self-love. When we can take that unconditional love, often directed towards others, and direct it towards ourselves. To be more forgiving of our own emotions, actions, wrongdoings and suffering. To be compassionate and kind. To remember that life is a journey and our is growing and evolving if we allow it. That is where the healing begins.
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” – Gandhi
I reminded myself that part of this unconditional love is gratitude. Being grateful for the things that we want to show up in our lives, but also being grateful for the things that don’t, or even for the challenging times. You cannot be grateful and complain at the same time. So rather than complaining about not feeling well, or having unmet expectations of what I thought pregnancy would be like, I’ve decided instead to express overwhelming gratitude for the very fact that I get to participate in this miracle of life. That alone is something to celebrate.
Now in the comments below I want to hear from you! What does self-love mean to you and has it changed throughout your life? Is there a certain lesson from today’s blog that resonates with you the most?