With each passing week of this pregnancy (can you believe it’s already 18 weeks?!), I feel like there are some themes that continue to come up for me. Some lessons I’ve known, but promptly forgotten. Others have become crystal clear in new ways. And a small few I’m learning for the very first time.
Just because it took pregnancy to knock me over the head with these lessons, doesn’t mean you have to be knocked up to take them in.
Except for the bit about pregnancy brain. That one requires a life growing inside of you to fully understand (and appreciate) those who manage to stay organized and on top of things.
So, without further ado, here are 10 life lessons I’ve learned…so far.
1. There is no shame in asking for help.
I like to think that I am a very self-sufficient and capable woman. The Hubster likes to think I’m just plain stubborn. Either way, it’s always been difficult for me to ask for help.
Pregnancy has a way of changing that. Particularly if you want to get up from the couch or the floor, have food in your belly, or have a clean house. As hard as it was in the beginning, I am definitely learning that I need help. And that’s okay.
I’m still a self-sufficient and capable women. I also know when I need help, and am able to ask for it. (Thank goodness.)
2. Listen to your body.
It took me 20+ years to learn this one the first time around. And listen I did; changing up me entire diet, lifestyle, career, and mindset.
Enter pregnancy, and holy shit does this lesson get taken to a new level. When your body says it’s hungry, you better eat. And not 2 hours later. When your body says it’s tired, that doesn’t mean visit 4 more stores before going home (unless you want to end up sobbing hysterically in your car for an hour because you’re too tired to move). It means listen to your body.
3. Taking care of yourself isn’t optional.
A lot of women (and men, too) have a tendency to put themselves last on the list of priorities. I’d like to think that I am immune to this…but, alas, I am no exception. Particularly when busy, stressed out, and working long hours. Which, is pretty much all the time.
When you’re growing a life inside of you, self care isn’t optional. It’s necessary.
Eating healthy food just plain feels better. Doing yoga and stretching feels amazing, even if it requires a 2 hour nap post-class. Taking regular naps or going to bed at 9pm every night isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s just the way it goes.
4. Embrace the transitions.
You may find this hard to believe, but I’m a total planner. I like clear goals and direction. I like knowing what my life (and business) is going to look like 1, 3, and 5 years from now. And I go a bit stir crazy when I have to wait for things to “take shape”.
Enter pregnancy and goodbye planning and knowing.
Which is to say, pregnancy is a transition. A transition to motherhood, a period of growth (literally) and grey areas. Even if you have been pregnant before, there is no way of knowing what the next 9 months (and beyond) have in store for you.
I have had to learn to embrace the transitions, to live in the grey, and to appreciate exactly where I am in life. I only wish I could have learned this a bit earlier.
5. Love and kindness are two of the most powerful emotions, period.
I cannot begin to tell you how much love and kindness has been directed towards me, The Hubster, and this baby. It has been humbling, overwhelming at times, and an incredible honor.
I wish every single person on this planet had a chance to feel that kind of love and kindness. I sincerely believe it would change the world.
6. When you share your story, it’s transformative for you and those around you.
Being open and honest about my journey to get pregnant has been incredibly healing and transformative for me. Before sharing my story and opening up about our struggles, I was slipping into a very dark place. I was crying myself to sleep most nights, saying things like “if I can’t have a baby, my life isn’t worth living,” and isolating myself from friends and family.
Once I started to open up, I found that I wasn’t alone. There were women all around me going through similar things. And others who weren’t, but cared enough about me to listen and let me cry.
I’ve also come to realize (through countless emails, comments, and coffee dates) that sharing my story has been cathartic and healing for those around me as well. It’s a true honor to be able to hold the space for other women, to let them know that they too aren’t alone, and that things do get better.
7. Sleep is precious.
I used to take sleep for granted. I could sleep through just about anything, including a massive thunderstorm, the cat whining for hours outside our door, or garbage trucks going past our house at 6am. You name it, I could sleep through it.
Now that I have to sleep on my side, I have a newfound respect for sleep. I wake up every 2 hours; sometimes due to aching hips and shoulders, others because I have to pee (again). And I have trouble falling back asleep. Mostly because I can’t get comfortable. And when I do fall back asleep, I have the craziest dreams. Not always the most restful thing…
8. Pregnancy brain is no joke.
I used to laugh and joke with my friends about pregnancy brain anytime they forgot something or would lose their train of thought. Same went for new moms. Clearly the joke is on me, considering how badly pregnancy brain has hit me.
I can honestly say that this has been the worst part of pregnancy for me (which makes me incredibly grateful). I have completely missed appointments, added appointments on the wrong day and time, and confuse things easily. I also forgot whether I’ve had lunch, to reply to an important email, or a conversation I had 30 minutes prior.
If you’ve been at the receiving end of this, I am sorry. Also, please remind me of what it is I didn’t do (ahem).
9. Every body is different.
This is a funny one, considering I talk with my food testing clients about this each and every week. The same can be said for exercise, diet, nutrition, health, wellness, happiness, and pretty much everything else in this world.
Pregnancy is no exception. And yet, I find myself comparing my body and my symptoms to those around me. The Hubster is great about (lovingly) reminding me to focus on myself, on how I’m feeling compared to yesterday, and that every body is different.
10. Take breaks! And take them often.
Pre-pregnancy me used to be able to sit at the computer for 10+ hours without a break. I could work an entire day and forget to eat. I could go a full week without seeing outside for more than 5 minutes at a time (the dog has to pee).
Now, if I sit at a desk for more than 2 hours at a time, my hips ache, my back hurts, my legs start to get super stiff, and I get hungrier than I’ve ever been in my life. I also get exhausted (and winded) pretty easily from things like talking or walking up and down the stairs.
Getting up and walking around for 10-15 minutes at a time means being able to go back to work and be productive. I also allow myself to take longer breaks during the week. If I’m feeling particularly worn out or burned out, I take the morning off. I make sure to have a leisurely lunch, and watch some of my favorite trashy television.
What would happen if…
What would happen if you asked for help, listened to your body more, took better care of yourself, embraced the transitions in your life, felt more love and kindness all around you, shared your story (whatever that is), slept better, appreciated your body and what it does for you, and took breaks more often?
Would you be happier?
Would you enjoy things more?
Would you be better equipped to reach your goals?
Would you feel more comfortable in your own skin?
Would you be more productive?
Would you feel more at peace?
Would you be more creative?
Would your relationships improve?