From the moment I found out I was expecting to being 23 weeks today – my pregnancy has been a whirlwind of emotions and surprises. Nowadays, we have movies, our mothers, books and the media telling us what our pregnancy should feel like/ will feel like. It’s not until you’re expecting yourself that you realize how different everyone’s is. Here are the top 5 things that have caught me by surprise thus far during this journey:
1. Your body isn’t yours anymore… externally or internally.
The moment I announced my pregnancy, that invisible barrier I surround myself with, my “personal space” broke down. For some reason, strangers at Kroger are now suddenly compelled to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be eating, their terrifying birth stories and almost always have prying questions. Unsolicited advice goes viral surrounding me everywhere I go. And then there’s the touching. Something about a cute baby bump makes complete strangers feel like it’s acceptable to touch you.
2. Your little one owns you.
Pregnancy, for me, has been the ultimate tug of war between self-sacrifice and self-maintenance. When I had first told my mother she was going to be a grandma, she told me “Your body won’t be yours anymore”. I was sick in bed with a horrible cold two weeks ago, and refrained from taking any medication not wanting to risk anything with the baby. Struggling when sick? Sacrifice. Frustrated when nothing fits and you have 10 minutes to get ready? Sacrifice. You want to sleep on your right side, but your baby prefers left? Sacrifice. Another surprise: I’m wearing all these sacrifices like a badge. I’m going to be mother and this is what mothers do – they sacrifice.
3. You really don’t know how it feels unless you’ve been pregnant yourself.
In my opinion, unless you’ve been pregnant yourself, you will never truly understand what it feels like. I often run out of words and find it hard to describe some of the things I feel such as why I’m uncomfortable sitting in an otherwise normal position or what’s going on inside me. When I first felt my nugget’s movements, I struggled with describing the mini flutters to my husband. “It’s like popcorn popping or a goldfish swimming through me”, I said. He looked at me like I was clueless. The stretching pains I often feel with my muscles and ribs tearing and stretching, the constant need to go to the bathroom due to the enormous amount of pressure on my bladder and how the baby will kick me in places I didn’t know he could reach yet are all tough to describe unless you’ve been in this position.
4. How excited my husband is!
My husband isn’t the most expressive person. I always knew he would be excited to be a dad. I just didn’t realize HOW excited. When he first felt the baby kick, he was amazed. Like he suddenly and finally believed me when I was telling him I had been feeling these movements internally for the past few weeks. The smile that lights up his face every time he catches me looking at my belly in the mirror or rubbing it while laying down is priceless. He wanted to be very much involved in picking out baby gear and making our registry. He had an opinion about the theme for our little guy’s nursery. He tries to go to every single appointment with me and is excited to take our newborn care classes together so he can better support me as a parent. It’s beautiful seeing your unemotional husband love and care for you while his excitement grows every day for our little one.
5. The love starts so soon.
Lastly, the best surprise I’ve felt thus far is how soon the love starts. Everyone talks about the outpouring of love a woman feels when she holds her newborn for the first time; little did I know, that love actually starts a lot sooner than that. I know nothing about my baby boy, but the maternal instinct has already kicked in. The eternal need to protect this little being is overwhelming. I’ve never considered myself much of a baby person - I could hold someone’s baby for about twenty minutes before I needed to give it back. Now I find myself oohing and aahing over babies, gazing at naughty kids in grocery stores, smiling at their innocence and staring at my belly dreaming of what it will be like when I finally get to hold my sweet pea.
The human body is amazing. I was floored when I first felt my little nugget’s tiny movements. Even as I’m writing this, he’s got his little fists and knees moving about inside me and a rump rising to my ribs. I can’t believe I made all of him - the little hands, feet and …brain! We are miraculous human beings. I can’t wait to see what comes next.