As rewarding as motherhood is, it’s the journey that really sets up the story.
No matter how you receive your little blessing, through your own pregnancy or surrogacy, fostering or adoption; it is an incredible, stressful, tear jerking experience. Each experience different than the other. Each story with some sort of tumultuous twist but hopefully ending in a God strong moment. I know that I can’t speak for every mother in the world but from my own experience, I must say that the journey to motherhood was paved with lessons in pregnancy, purpose, prayer, and promises.
I hate to admit it but for me, pregnancy was hard. I want to use a better word than “hard” but that’s really the best way for me to put it.
No, it wasn’t difficult or intense, it was simply “hard”. Not in a physical way; it was 100% emotional. Now, bear with me as you read this… It does get a lot of better. I seriously hate to say all of the things that I’m about to say because they’re such “first world” problems but, it is what it is and I want to share my testimony.
As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I was in disbelief. Honestly, I was in disbelief up until my water broke. I had always planned on being a mother but never really had a time frame in mind. That’s clearly when God came in and decided for me. So immediately after discovering that I was pregnant, I was thrilled. Jonathan and I had a little secret that we carried around for 12 weeks and always spoke of the baby as if he or she was already there. It was cute. I was already experiencing some nausea and fatigue but nothing major. I, overall, felt like myself, just with a cute little seed planted in me. Jonathan was so eager to announce to everyone and I was excited as well (just not as excited as he was…). Once we made the announcement, we received a lot of support, love, and well wishes. Unfortunately, it was at this moment that everything became so different.
From my personal experience, once you announce that you are pregnant, you lose your identity in the eyes of society. I was no longer just Erica anymore. I was pregnant. I was no longer overlooked and now completely gawked upon. If I wanted to go unnoticed or be completely left alone, it wasn’t possible. When I found out that was I pregnant, I was barely discovering myself and my identity and instantly, I lost it. I know during motherhood, a lot of women say that they lose their identity. For me, this occurred during pregnancy.
After I announced it, I noticed that people barely looked at my face anymore. It was always directly at my stomach. Then, the questions came.
“How far along are you?”
“Is it a girl or a boy?”
“Have you had any morning sickness?”
“How much weight have you gained?”
I know that everyone had their best interest in mind but it was infuriating. No one ever actually asked me how I was doing. No one ever wanted to discuss me anymore; it was always small talk about the pregnancy. (Note: I’m not good at small talk…)
Once my body began transforming, that was the new topic of discussion. I was already insecure about it and completely disappointed in myself for not having the physical strength to continue working out. I can remember “hiking” throughout multiple parts of northern California, trying so hard to keep up and prove that I was pregnant and able. Then during a walk to beach, I felt a terrible pain in my lower abdomen that basically crippled me and I tried to push through it. Why did I try to push through it? Because that’s what the old, non-mom Erica would have done. After being on the verge of tears, I said that I couldn’t do it, went back to the house, laid in the bed and cried.
I felt bloated (obvi, I was pregnant… I know). I felt weak. I felt tired. I felt emotional. I felt insecure. I felt sad. Occasionally, I even felt lost.
(I literally have never felt any of those emotions in my life.)
Work also became especially hard for me. Not only was it physically demanding, it suddenly became an emotional battlefield. I watched so many women have babies. I saw their fight, their struggles, their aftermath. Around my last trimester, I saw a lot of grief; a lot of sad stories. I can remember, in particular, sitting with a patient, who had the exact same due date as me, and crying with her as her baby was life-flighted from our NICU to another hospital. She wept on my shoulder, with her hand on my stomach, asking what she did wrong to do this her child and I felt sick.
I felt guilty over something beyond my control. I felt afraid to go to work. I felt remorseful. I felt pretty damn bad.
I did not feel like myself.
These feelings terrified me and I began to feel unprepared for motherhood.
The more that people talked to me about motherhood and pregnancy, the more annoyed I felt about literally everything.
Basically, I always thought that pregnancy was easy. I thought that the hard part and the emotions came afterwards. I was young and naive, y’all. I always thought that I would only gain 25 lbs, work out every day, feel and look great. I thought that I would be “glowing” and would look like all of the other beautiful model like women during pregnancy. I thought that life would be exactly the same as it was before. I thought that I would love all of the attention. I had completely unrealistic ideas of what it was to be pregnant and I guess that’s because no one ever talks about the emotionally difficult journey that you must endure. This is why I’m doing it right now. Fortunately (because there is always a brighter side to everything, right?), I learned several life lessons along the way and they’ve made the mom that I am today.
Why was it a hard journey?
Why did I feel so emotional?
Why was it so hard for me to feel like myself?
Well, I believe that the journey into motherhood is difficult because it needs to me. Being a mother is so rewarding. And as many times as I’ve taken Ellie to the park, I can tell you that motherhood is actually NOT a walk in the park. It’s hard. It’s emotional. You will always question yourself. You will always worry. You will always try to do what is best for you, your child, your family. From the moment, that you find out that you are welcoming another life into your world, everything changes and so should you.
Pregnancy changed me and I’m okay with that. Currently, after a little over 6 months of being a mother, I’m still trying to find my identity. I know that it will take time and I’m okay with that as well. Jonathan likes to tell me that I can continue to do some of the things that I did before and that I don’t have to change.
For me, it was all intrinsic. It wasn’t about feeling like I had to change. I had no control over it, honestly. But, I know that I needed to change. I need to go through that emotional stress. I needed to be humbled by my body and forced to slow down. I needed to understand that as much as I want to plan things and control things, that I am not in control and I won’t always be. I needed to be reminded to open my hands and lay all of my problems out in His. I needed to let down my walls. I needed to be vulnerable. I needed to grow.
And I have grown.
I prayed constantly. Initially, I think that I was praying for strength. I was probably asking God to make me able to do physical things and to feel better. Something super shallow, I’m sure. Right before her anatomy scan, I began to pray for her development. I prayed for a healthy baby girl. I prayed for constant movement from her. I prayed for the Lord to watch over my overall well being every day. Pregnancy really helped me come back into my faith and I’m so thankful for that guidance.
One day, when I wasn’t having as many kicks around her usual “kick time”, I started to panic. Pregnancy can have moments of worry and fear. I waited a little bit, poked my stomach a couple of times and… nothing. I drank orange juice and still nothing. I wept and prayed for a sign that she was okay, then she kicked. Just one sweet little kick. hI don’t know if it was divine intervention, or if Ellie was like, “mom, chill…” but it was a moment of complete release to God. After a little prayer and a little kick, I felt connected to Him and to her. I felt good. I began to incorporate quiet time into my day to pray almost everyday. I was grew thankful for my journey. In that silence, I grew into an understanding of (my opinion of) pregnancy’s purpose. I asked for forgiveness for my attitude and for anytime that I seemed ungrateful. I had an incredibly healthy pregnancy and I wasn’t even paying attention to it because I was so focused on the past and the future, not the present. I asked for forgiveness in regards of my feelings towards others… I know that people ask because they care or want to be polite but I was still caught up in my own insecurities that I couldn’t see that. I prayed for growth. I prayed for continued health. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for all of the mothers; old and young, grieving and joyous, the ones who were constantly trying and the ones who were putting their child up for adoption, the adoptive, the foster, the surrogate. I prayed for all of the women who were enduring their journey to motherhood. I prayed for their journey to be watched over as well as mine. I prayed for my patients and especially, my NICU mom patients. I prayed for myself.
I prayed for open eyes, an open mind, and an open heart.
Clearly, I learned a lot! Now that I’ve been through that emotional roller coaster of pregnancy and have been a mother for a little bit now, I feel much more prepared for the next time around. With that revelation comes the promises… Promises to God, my family, society, my unborn child, and my self.
I promise to let go and understand that I’m not in control.
I promise to have an open mind.
I promise to be patient with myself and others.
Whenever strangers, friends, or family, make comments about my appearance or create small talk, I promise to remind myself of their good intentions.
I promise to try to find joy in every pregnancy difficulty that comes my way.
I promise to be strong and understand that it is only a season and that that season will pass.
I promise to come back and read this post for clarity.
I promise to stay true to myself. My identity is still a work in progress and will continue to mold as I grow and I know that now.
I promise not to have any expectations, to have open hands, and to go with the flow.
I promise to leave my expectations at the door and enjoy the moment.
I promise to be thankful and prayerful and love that future little peanut as much as I can.
I promise to be me.
Pregnancy was “something else” but I know that I was blessed so I don’t want to focus on my mild grievances. It was long and intense and emotional but the end result was incredible. After learning so much about myself and life and adulthood, I realized what is truly important to me. I’m so blessed. I’m happy. I’m a mother. But most importantly, I’m feeling like myself again… A newer, more understanding, wholesome version of myself. And for all of that, I am so thankful!