15 October 2020

Things I've Learned From My Pregnancy So Far

As I am fast approaching my third trimester (it sounds surreal even saying it, eek!) I started to ponder about my journey so far. And more specifically, I was thinking about the lessons I’ve learned in the last 6 months. The things I’ve discovered about myself and maybe even a glimpse at the kind of mother I will be.

This slow and steady journey has left its mark on me and I feel like a different person. Mind you I’m only ⅔ of the way there so plenty more growing to do (both literally and metaphorically)

I mean sure, the impending reality of motherhood and knowing I will be responsible for another human does that to you, but I mean something else here. I feel changed on a level I didn’t quite expect to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

I’ve mastered the art of establishing boundaries

Any woman who’s been with a child will tell you that pregnancy is a magical time when suddenly you are bombarded with unsolicited advice left, right and centre. Family members from both sides, friends and even total strangers want to give you advice, pass down some wisdom and maybe even weigh in on important decisions (from what we’ll call the baby to whether or not they need a dummy). I have always been a people pleaser and have gone out of my way to make sure others are happy. This at times has meant not quite following my heart but rather going with options that I know the majority will be happy with.

Lately however, I have learned to stand my ground on issues concerning myself and my child. From putting my foot down on the issue of naming our kid (there are certain traditions that Bulgarians observe when naming a child) to who will see the baby when they are born. What Axl and I say goes and that’s the bloody law as far as I am concerned. Others can deal with it.

Surprisingly, I thought that being firm on these issues will be tricky but turns out it’s really not. My child and my peace of mind are at the forefront of every decision I make.

Particularly during this COVID situation, being firm has been the easiest thing. If you want to come visit me while I’m pregnant you have to be healthy and wear a face covering at all times. If you want to see the baby when he’s born again, you’d better show me a doctor’s note proving a clean bill of health or you can meet the baby on Zoom. No compromises.

Patience, patience, patience

I’ve always said that patience isn’t one of my virtues. 30 years on this earth have never taught me patience quite the way this pregnancy has in the last 6 months. I have always been an instant gratification kind of person. I hate waiting, I would do anything to get what I want right when I want it.

It turns out, that’s not quite how it works when it comes to child bearing. You have to wait for everything for absolute ages and there’s simply no way around it. It all starts with those first 3 minutes you wait to get a result on the pregnancy test. You can’t rush it and no matter how much you pee on the stick, it’s still going to take 3 minutes for the test to develop. Ever since then, it’s been one wait after the other. Waiting for the first scan, waiting for the fetus to grow big enough so that we can hear the heartbeat, waiting for the first kick, and then waiting for the baby to actually drop… These are the small milestones that mean the world to an expectant parent, the ones you wait for literally day and night. Yet these are the very same things you can’t rush.

It has been quite the lesson and I must admit that I have struggled at times but there’s virtually nothing I could do to make him grow quicker. All I can do is wait, and I am slowly making peace with that. So I’ve found out that patience is not a virtue, it's a skill you can learn without realising it

I appreciate the little things

This pregnancy has been one grand event consisting of a million little miracles. From the growing pains, to the gentle kicks I feel every day, I’ve learned to appreciate all those little things that are signs that the baby is okay. (PS. Those kicks have been getting progressively more aggressive and I love that)

And this appreciation isn’t only limited to the baby. It’s extended to everything in my life. For example the small changes in our marriage dynamic, like how Axl says goodnight to me and then to the bump.

It’s how my mom calls me nearly every day to make sure I am okay and to tell me a story from when I was a baby. It fascinates me how much she remembers with exact precision from the time she was pregnant with me.

It’s also a bitter sweet appreciation for the life I am about to leave behind. The long naps, the lie ins… I’ve learned to live in the moment and enjoy life as it is now knowing that for better or for worse it will never be the same. It will never be just me and Axl again, once the little one comes we will forever be a family of 3, even when he leaves us to go to university for example.

It’s appreciating this pregnancy as it is. We do want more kids in the future which means this is probably the only time when I can enjoy being pregnant without having to care for another child at the same time.

So yeah, I’ve learned to cherish the little moments trying to remember everything.

New found love for my body

Turns out I’ve been seeing my body all wrong all my life. Most of my 20’s were spent criticising and hating on my physic. Trying to lose weight, gain muscle, look taller and thinner… you name it.

This pregnancy has been the first time in my life where I have been well and truly amazed by my body. I wake up grateful every day and I celebrate the fact that I am fit and healthy. My body is growing a whole other human, sustaining 2 hearts, 4 kidneys, 2 brains… all of which without any conscious input from me. My God my body is freaking extraordinary!

The sheer fact that I got pregnant quickly when so many struggle to conceive for years, the fact that so far I’ve had a healthy and super boring pregnancy without complications means that my body is working perfectly. Who the hell cares if I don’t look like an Instagram model, my body is freaking incredible.

I have never in my life been so proud of my protruding belly, the same belly I was trying to conceal for most of my adult life. I feel such gratitude for my health and my body, that I’ve never even thought is possible. I would like to think that this new found awe will persist and this will be something I would love to pass to the little person growing inside of me. You are perfect the way you are.

I have a new found passion for social issues

I have always cared for the world around me, but now my senses are heightened. I listen to the news more. I sign (and start) petitions. I campaign and I learn. I’ve never thought more about right and wrong, about what my values are, or about what matters to me, because for the first time I’m realising how much what I do and say, and what’s happening in the world, is going to affect another person, and because I already love that person more than I’ve ever loved anything.

When George Floyd used his dying breath to call out for his momma, I felt emotions I’ve never felt before. When people were rioting and others were calling for peace all I could think about is the fact that if somebody ever did that to my baby, you can rest assured that I would set the fucking city on fire too. Knowing that I am bringing a mixed child that will automatically be a citizen of 2 countries into a racist and xenophobic world makes my blood boil.

Watching the latest David Attenborough documentary with his grim predictions of the future makes me both sad and afraid. We’re on a path where by the time my son is 10 the Amazon rainforest will degrade to a point where it can no longer produce enough moisture, transforming into a dry savanna. By the time he’s 30, the oceans would have become so acidic, coral reefs around the world will bleach and die.

I am beyond frustrated that in a world ravaged by a global pandemic, people still insist the virus is a hoax and refuse to stay home and wear face coverings when outside.

As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve never felt more passionate about creating a better world. So stop hating on people who look different. Stop using products with palm oil. And on a much smaller scale, wash your hands. Stop driving like a dickhead. Campaign for dads to get equal parental leave to mothers.

Only now do I realise how many things really matter.

So please stop being a dick to fellow humans and to animals. We’re all somebody’s baby.

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