A close friend of mine, and another mamma-to-be, recently posted on social media the truth about her pregnancy and she inspired me to think back on the last 6 months and take stock of my own experience.
In her own words "Don't listen to social media; it's not glowy skin, happy hair and the occasional bouts of gas". It may be the experience for some, but for me, it certainly has not been.
Excitement and gratitude (and nausea!!) have filled every single one of the days from when I first found out I was pregnant, until this very moment, six months later. Ok so this all sounds glowy and happy you must be thinking, apart from the nausea of course. Well the truth is, along with those wonderful feelings came none other than fear.
It is only really a couple weeks ago, while I was reading Brene Brown's book "Daring Greatly" that it hit home. We all know that fear has a sneaky way of injecting itself into our lives. And when we're not really paying attention, it can disguise itself and unconsciously can show up in our actions and the decisions we make on a daily basis. Let me explain.
In her post, my friend said it so powerfully: "You're going to wake up and go to sleep crying on some nights and it's not just because of the hormones; it's because you're human and growing one inside; and every single fear you've had until now is going to show its ugly face, whether you like it or not"
Here is what came up for me. And now that I have more clarity looking back, it should have come as no surprise.
Perfectionism. Those of you that know me know that a lot of the work and inquiry I have done on myself is directly or indirectly related to perfectionism, not "being enough", bla bla bla. So why in the world did this come up now?
I have struggled, I have been unhappy, I have developed a certain amount of self-hate in the past, but I have made peace with all of that and I am ok with my past struggle. More importantly, I have moved so far past it, that I have found self-worth, joy, contentment and peace of mind.
However, here is what has hit me, and what has been underlying my fears of being a new mamma. I am no longer just responsible for rebuilding my own story with worthiness; I will soon be responsible for hers. Brene Brown says it simply and beautifully
"Our stories of worthiness, of being enough, begin in our first families. The narrative certainly doesn't end there, but what we learn about ourselves and how we learn to engage with the world as children sets a course that either will require us to spend a significant part of our life fighting to reclaim our self-worth or will give us hope, courage, and resilience for our journey" Brene Brown
So as soon as I found out I was pregnant, my mind leaned back into its old habitual behaviours, 'How can I make everything perfect, so she grows up feeling loved and worthy?'
And in the first few months, emotions were of course flying all over the place. With perfectionism sneaking back into my daily world and decisions, I found myself fighting with my husband, who of course was dealing with his own "stuff" no less. I did a fair bit of crying of course, certain days for no "specific" reason at all.
Am I grateful, hell yes. Am I ashamed for the tears and pain, hell no. Do the tears take away the gratitude, of course not. Having a child is a big deal. Every single one of our emotions are a big deal. ALL of our feelings and emotions have value, no matter our situation or circumstances. You can always find someone that has it worse off than you, and that's why it's important to practice gratitude. However, YOU matter, your feelings matter. It only matters what we end up doing with them. Feel them, even wallow in them for a short time if you must, but ultimately take responsibility for them and say no to shame.
To finish, I wanted to share with you something I read in Brene Brown's book that, at least for now, has helped ease my fears of parenting. Also to be clear, when I bought "Daring Greatly" I had no idea she would include a short section on parenting. In fact, I haven't yet been compelled to read anything on parenting; my current motto "follow your intuition, it has brought you this far". It was a wonderful surprise to stumble upon it, and although I am sure I will eventually pick up a parenting book in future, this has greatly satisfied me for now
"Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting. In terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the 'never enough' culture, the question isn't so much 'Are you parenting the right way?' as it is: 'Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?' Brene Brown
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