Over my bed hangs a curled-up ultrasound photo of my baby. I look at it every day, reminding myself that I am connected to this child and am responsible for her passage into this world. I’m about to give birth any day now and have been spending these last few weeks preparing myself mentally and emotionally for the unknown road ahead.
The other night, my husband asked me what I have learned from being pregnant. There was so much to say. So far, I’ve spent 269 days growing and carrying this child in me and every one of those days has revolved around her well-being. Every one of those days has also caused me to question and critique how I treat myself, as well as the people around me.
I learned quickly during my pregnancy that there was no way I could remain the same person I was before all of this. I have been altered from my head to my heart to my soul. One minute, I was just a night owl workaholic New York City kind of girl and the next minute, I became a lavender-smelling, protein-eating vessel and fortress for another life, for another girl. Instinctually, my life became about protection and nurturing and all that motherly ooey goodness.
A crazy transformation of sorts has occurred. I’ve been challenged on so many levels and have had to willingly surrender and share so much of myself with this baby and with my husband. There’s so much to say, and I’ve been hesitating to talk about my pregnancy experience because it is so personal and unique in a way that I don’t even know if it’s of interest to anyone else but myself. Yet, I figure, before I give birth, that it would be good to leave behind a few thoughts before my so-called “baby brain” steals my reflections all away.
1. Don’t get too serious. Have a good time and laugh and don’t be afraid to take a sip of your girlfriend’s mimosa, your husband’s beer, or the wine you used to cook that sauce for dinner.
2. Just because you are pregnant, remember that not everyone else around you is.
3. Each birth is unique and unpredictable. Sometimes, all you can do is let Mother Nature take its course.
4. There really is such a thing as motherly intuition. Welcome your new superpower.
5. Fear and insecurity should be addressed and not swept under the rug. Eat some ice cream or a juicy burger, cry it out and do some yoga. There is really no need to carry negative thoughts around.
6. Make new friends. Surround yourself with good people who support your pregnancy goals and put a hand in the face of people who don’t.
7. For all you independent ladies out there, accept help happily. Let strangers give you their seat, let your mothers cook you some fatty soul food and let the Trader Joe’s cashier put your groceries in your car.
8. You’re not in this to please anyone. Take care of yourself and your baby and protect your sacred space.
9. Don’t feel like you have to control everything. Surrender to the changes, accept that your favorite jeans won’t fit for a while and share your body with your child.
10. Pregnancy is not pretty and pristine. It’s beautiful and primal.
Although these reflections arose from my pregnancy, these are life lessons that can be applied in many contexts. I’ve learned about surrendering control, facing fears and rolling with Mother Nature. I’ve learned to be more confident and forgiving, and less judgmental. I’ve become more appreciative and observant. I have grown a stronger love for my husband and family. I feel, in some ways, more free to be myself.
By the time you hear from me next, I’ll be a mom. Motherhood, I know, is a whole other deal, a whole other unknown. It will come with its own package of evolving reflections I’m sure. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my last hours or days of pregnancy and not worry that I’ve never changed a single diaper in my life, not even on a doll. Wish me luck and see you on the other side!
Mari Nakano can be reached by email at [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.