It’s Okay to NOT be Happy About Your Pregnancy!
I’m 6 months pregnant with our second baby and I recently finally announced my pregnancy to majority of my friends and on my social media. Prior to that, only our parents and very few friends knew about it. With my first pregnancy, we started telling people after the first trimester was over but this time, I just didn’t feel like it.
Why you ask? I didn’t want to listen to “Congratulations” and “Wow! You must be so excited!“… Because I wasn’t excited! In fact, for the first few months, I didn’t want to discuss it with anyone at all. I didn’t feel like it was a cause for celebration. I didn’t feel happy about it. On top of that, I felt guilty for not feeling happy about it.
If you’re pregnant and feeling the same way, here’s what you need to know – It’s perfectly normal!
My Pregnancy Woes
Both my first and second pregnancy were planned ones. I remember when I found out the first time, I started crying. They weren’t tears of joy or unhappiness. It was simply the surprise of finding out that overwhelmed me. I’m not someone who’s very naturally maternal so I didn’t get happy tears during my ultrasounds but I was overall happy during my first pregnancy despite constant chest burn and throwing-up all 9 months. I went to work, styled my pregnancy outfits, went out with friends and fulfilled my food cravings despite the aches, pains and mood swings that come with being pregnant.
But the second time was very different emotionally. I got pregnant on our first try and when I suddenly started throwing up 3 times a day, I kept telling myself that it’s food poisoning. My husband Karan remarked that maybe I’m pregnant but I kept insisting it can’t be this fast. When I finally missed by period date by 2-3 days, he bought a home pregnancy test and as it turns out, he was right! I was pregnant!
My heart just sank into the ground when I saw those two ticks! I can’t explain it! One would think I’d be happy I got pregnant so quickly. People try for so long sometimes, especially in our mid thirties. But I just couldn’t get myself to feel happy or excited. I thought it’ll get okay in a few days but it only got worse. I was in denial and now finally, 6 months into my pregnancy, it’s finally getting better.
This is a story of a lot of mothers-to-be. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, many can’t openly talk about it. But the truth is, it’s actually common enough for women to not be excited about being pregnant, even in cases of planned pregnancies. It doesn’t make you a bad mother-to-be and it certainly doesn’t mean you will not love your baby. Please read on and don’t let the guilt take over you.
Why you might be unhappy about your pregnancy?
1. You Were Not Ready!
This is true for planned and unplanned pregnancies. Let’s face it – None of us are ever 100% ready for it! Most of us take that decision while being semi-sure. But when it actually happens, the unready side takes over. I wasn’t ready the first time either but overall, I was fine. I didn’t feel overly maternal during my first pregnancy but the ferocity of love that hit me when I had my daughter was fierce. So I knew from experience that it will be okay. But despite knowing all that, I still couldn’t pull myself together during the first 3-4 months of my second pregnancy. I just couldn’t handle everything pregnancy would bring.
2. Pregnancy Is Hard!
That brings me to my second point. Pregnancy can be a bitch and it’s one of the hardest things a woman’s body goes through. There are hormonal imbalances, nausea, chest-burn, vomiting, aches and pains, weight gain and the list goes on. It’s easy to say that all of this is temporary but it’s also easier said that done! Being constantly physically uncomfortable can take a bigger toll on your mental health than one assumes. Allow yourself to acknowledge that it’s not easy and give yourself credit for going through it, happily or unhappily. Whatever works!
3. Feeling Left Out
From the day you find out you’re pregnant, there are things you can’t do or eat or drink. Again, it’s easy for people to say – Oh it’s just for a few months! Well, those few months are actually 40 whole weeks and for quite a long time after delivery too. You feel left out at gatherings, parties or dinners. The smell of someone else’s food might make you nauseous. Seeing another person drink or smoke or eat something that you can’t might make you crave it. On paper, it’s a small sacrifice and moms-to-be do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy!
4. Work/Career Slowdown
Everyone has a different pregnancy. Most women do face severe exhaustion in the first trimester. It’s actually one of the first signs of being pregnant. I remember I would pass out by 730 PM every night and wake up the next morning during the first trimester of my first pregnancy. During my second too, I just felt so tired! That meant I couldn’t finish as much work as I wanted to and had to give up assignments or opportunities. I had already taken a break before and restarted a whole new career after my first baby. I was finally at a stage where it had built up to a stable level and I could grow my portfolio even more. But physically, I just did not have the energy and I knew this slowdown will continue for a bit. It’s not fair to expect women to be happy or even okay with the hit their career takes or the compromises they have to make because they’re pregnant.
5. Feeling Ugly
Before you bombard me for using a superficial word like ugly and tell me how all pregnant women look super cute, let me explain that feeling ugly during pregnancy has to do with a lot more than just weight gain. We are quite prepared for the weight gain to be honest. But most women will experience at least few of the following symptoms during their pregnancy – nausea, vomiting, bloating, leg cramps, bleeding gums, nose bleeds, acne or pigmentation, varicose veins, lower back or hip aches, exhaustion and so on. That combined with the weight gain does lead to some fall in your self-image regardless of how fashionable a mom-to-be you might be. In fact, I’m one of those who gains weight mostly only on my belly & I love styling my clothes too. But most days, I feel so yucky in my body because I’m still throwing up once or twice a day, have pressure on my sciatica nerve that makes my legs & hips hurt and the burning sensation in my chest is non-stop.
6. What Lies Ahead…
Many of us second time moms-to-be also already know what’s gonna happen during delivery and the first 3-6 months thereafter. Be it a natural or a C-section delivery, going through either is difficult. The recovery post that is difficult. Whether you breastfeed or formula feed or mix; the sleepless nights, colic stage, baby blues etc are difficult. The struggle of getting your body back is tedious. Those 1-2 years from pregnancy to baby’s first year is physically and mentally draining. Even the stress of check-ups and hoping everything is okay during pregnancy is difficult. There’s always that fear and worry about something going wrong. You want to stop overthinking, yet you can’t!
7. Unsolicited Advice
It’s one thing to ask for help and advice. But unfortunately, being pregnant means you will get constant and over-bearing advice and hints from everyone. Families honestly are the worst sometimes. I got so much of it along with indirect hints and comments on what I should and should not do during and after pregnancy. When I found out about my second pregnancy, those memories came flooding back. As a second time pregnant mom-to-be, it’s easier for me to tell people to back off when needed. But that might not be the case for first time moms. Take your stand in whatever way you can. And to everyone shelling out advice without being asked, please leave the pregnant woman alone. She has her doctor. She has online resources. If she needs your help, she will ask for it.
8. Pre-Natal Or Ante-Natal Depression
It’s not as commonly talked about as post-natal depression but it is actually equally common. Many women get pre-natal depression and those who get it are at a higher risk of post-natal depression too. It is also not your fault! Your body is going through a million physical, hormonal and emotional changes. If you are feeling very sad or depressed during pregnancy, please read up on pre-natal depression or speak to your doctor about it. Get help in whichever form works for you.
What to do about depression during pregnancy?
1. Read Up
After feeling like shit for weeks, I finally opened Google and searched – not happy about my pregnancy. I can’t even count the number of articles and chat threads that popped up. Stories and stories by other moms who felt exactly how I was feeling. This included unplanned and planned pregnancies, moms who got pregnant after a lot of difficulty but still felt unhappy, moms who had multiple miscarriages before they got pregnant but still weren’t excited about the prospect of having baby… It was endless! My body felt lighter instantly because I realised I’m not alone. It’s not just me! Even though I didn’t know these women personally, reading their stories made me feel like I had a support structure.
2. Speak to a friend
Everyone needs a different type of outlet and sometimes, just having a space to freely share your feelings without any judgements helps more than actual solutions. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t even feel like talking about my pregnancy to anyone. And I definitely didn’t wanna hear “Oh it’ll be all fine later!“. I’ve been through this before and I already know it’ll be fine later. But I was going through it now! So I reached out to a couple of friends who I knew will lend an ear and happily let me bitch about how this pregnancy felt like I’m giving up too much of myself. They understood, they agreed and they didn’t judge me. That validation helped! That’s what I needed. Try to figure out what will help you and speak to a friend or family member about it.
3. Get Professional Help
If your depression during pregnancy is severe, please don’t ignore it and tell your doctor or speak to a therapist. Pre-natal depression is no joke and can get worse over time. There is no shame in it! We all need help and there is courage in seeking that help. Even if you don’t think your sad or irritated mood is at the level of being called depression, I still recommend letting your doctor know what you’re feeling. I did that and those tiny chats and considerations with her helped.
4. Whatever Works!
Let yourself feel what you’re feeling. If you feel like crying, do it! A good cry is extremely healing. Explain to your partner what you’re going through and tell them that sometimes you’re gonna need them to be understanding when you just lash out because you’re overwhelmed. Give them material to read so they understand how to help you get through this. Bottling it up won’t help!
It will get easier…
This blogpost turned out to be a lot longer than I had planned but I wanted to be as honest as possible and if it helps even a single pregnant woman out there struggling with her feelings during a supposed joyous time, then I will consider penning this down worth it. I am finally doing better now… much better than before.
Physically, both my pregnancies are very similar but emotionally, the second one took me by surprise. It’s taken me a few months to get out of that dark shadow but I can feel myself getting better and happier. If you know anyone who’s pregnant but seems to be struggling, reach out to them and say – Hang in there! You are not alone. You don’t deserve any shame or blame. I’m here to help.
Wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy!