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November 16, 2016
Everyone imagines their pregnancy will be a happy time. From a young age, we are taught to picture a perfect partner, a supportive family, plenty of money and the only concerns being over things like how to decorate the nursery. I don’t know anyone who had it this easy. In fact, life during pregnancy remains just as unpredictable and crazy as ever.
Four days before my husband and I were set to move from North Carolina to Ohio, I found out I was pregnant. It was a big shock and it required some major life adjustments. I had recently enrolled in graduate school and I knew I didn’t I want to have a baby during my first year of a rigorous PhD program. I decided to withdraw and suddenly the path I saw for my life was dramatically altered. Arriving in Ohio without a plan or any friends or family was difficult, to say the least. I had my husband, but it was unrealistic to expect he would be able to support me in the same way a whole community could. His family lived in the area, but they weren’t very welcoming toward me and due to strained relationships, we chose not to even reveal my pregnancy until I was almost seven months.
My husband worked a lot and I started waiting tables most nights of the week. Great Lakes winter weather set in and soon I had less of a desire to go out and socialize. There were nights that were snowy, dark and lonely. I would watch Netflix instead of drinking tea with a good friend. I would order baby stuff online and organize and reorganize the tiny little outfits, bottles and blankets in my closet. Calling my mom on the phone was a poor substitute for seeing her in person. I didn’t know it would turn out that I wouldn’t see her in person at all until a few months after my daughter was born. It wasn’t what I expected. None of it was how I imagined. It was hard. So how did I get by? Here is the part I want to share with you. I know pregnancy can be incredibly lonely and alienating for people. In fact, I believe this is way more common than we let on. These are some practical steps I took to help myself cope.
My community came in the form of Facebook group for local moms interested in attachment parenting. The moms in that group were afraid of nothing, they were non-judgemental and kept my spirits alive. When I was having a hard time, I could go post on there and share my thoughts. It helped me realize that what I was experiencing was totally normal and that many of them could relate. Because the group was for moms in the area, I eventually met many of them in real life and formed some great friendships after my daughter was born.
Part of the difficulty in accepting things hadn’t gone the way I expected was not getting angry at myself. It is easy to blame oneself for everything, but it won’t help the situation. I gave myself permission to be angry or sad. I gave myself permission to eat lots of sour candy and ice cream, which is pretty much all I ever craved. I took naps and long baths. I watched movies and made art. I tried not to dwell or let negativity take over.
Talking to a counselor was how I was able to realize that there were aspects of my life that I had no control over. It was tremendously helpful for me to make positive choices and rebuild goals. I made a dedication to focus on myself and who I wanted to be as a parent. Always remember, there is no shame in seeking professional help.
Having my cat around helped me feel not so lonely, especially on the cold winter nights. He would sit with me while I watched repeats of my favorite shows and try to lay on the laundry as I folded it. He asked me for food and would brush against my legs with loving affection. Okay, this might seem like a stretch, but I really like cats and I consider them essential to my well-being. My cat was an instant source of comfort for me. With all these tools, I forged ahead to the end of my pregnancy and the inevitable changes that waited for me when my daughter arrived. Within 24 hours of giving birth, my entire outlook on life had changed and along with it, my plans, concerns and feelings about myself. There is nothing so earth-shattering as having a child and once the pressure to have a perfect pregnancy disappeared, I was able to refocus on my life — which was suddenly centered around my daughter’s health and happiness. Pregnancy eventually ends... being a parent never does. This blog was written and shared by Meghan Bausone, a member of the Aeroflow team and the mother of an outgoing toddler. Meghan has an education in midwifery and has attended birth doula training through DONA International. She was the Creative Director of a birth and parenting focused magazine for six years.
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