Finding out you are expecting, does not always look like 2 people jumping from joy to the news. Whether your pregnancy was unplanned or planned, it does not necessitate experiencing feelings of excitement or intense joy. You might not feel like sharing the news with your loved ones immediately.
Maybe, in your case the discovery of expecting sets your mind into an intense effort to plan for the future. Maybe, your mind cannot sit with the fact that you are expecting as of yet. That is OK, that is absolutely fine. There is nothing wrong with you, nor is this an indication of that your subsequent bond with your child will be in any way weak. Instead, you might notice that you sing along loudly to happy songs and that your body wants to follow the beat of the tune, as if wanting to dance. There is no right or wrong way of relating to becoming a parent.
Our lives and relevant human narrative are tinted with expectations regarding what one “must feel” to be “normal”. As such, these expectations, make themselves known when you include any number of “should-s” in your thoughts.
All these expectations hinder:
- Going through your own process to come to terms with becoming a parent.
- Accepting your own experience as it is, not as it should be.
- Trying to make things work for you, rather than needing to fit into a box made of preconceived notions.
These components, essentially push to reshape your experiences. It is a futile and problematic process.
It is futile because wanting to have a different experience from the one you are currently having is the equivalent of pointing a leaf blower on the apple tree’s leaves that are just now sprouting from their buds. Just because you want it to be autumn, does not mean that it will occur to the fresh leaves to allow themselves to fall from their branches. The leaves are oblivious to your efforts and intentions. The same applies to pushing yourself into feeling something different than you actually are. The push and pull between your experiences and expectations, is formed by many components including but not limited to cultural and social constructs of womanhood, parenthood, pregnancies, and biases in how research was once interpretated.
As such, these dynamics are problematic primarily because they hinder reflecting on components that are of importance to you, and thereby problem solve to find solutions and ways of handling things in a way that it suits you and your family structure. Pregnancies cannot be seen as a one size fits all experience. A solution that applies to one, might not be an option for another.
Pregnancies look and feel different for all of us:
- For example, because of your personal history you might be risk or loss averse. You might be finding it especially careless to sit with the thought that you will soon be a parent, prior to your 1st trimester.
- Alternatively, you might be someone who might not be able to imagine yourself pregnant, but you can imagine yourself as a parent.
- You might be someone who feels like your role as a partner still holds priority over being a parent- in this case you might be anxious of whether a change in the type of connection infers a lowering of quality. You might also be wanting to develop new ways of assessing the quality and methods of connecting with your partner.
In another scenario, you might have a strained relationship with food. A pregnancy might cause concerns regarding your ability to cope with the changes the pregnancy might cause on your body. The common narrative is that you shouldn’t mind, its normal, your main goal should be to bring this child into this world.
Pushing yourself into not caring brings on the ignoring and dismissal of your experience, the idealisation of self-sacrifice, and ensures that whatever your needs are, will not be met. This ultimately puts you in a position of vulnerability. There are many options available to you, through mutli-disciplinary practice (the cooperation of different professionals belonging to a range of disciplines) can help attending to your biological, psychological, and social needs. Bearing this in mind, the above example could have been successfully managed by relying on different professionals to attend to the different dynamics, while cooperating to streamline the plan of care.
For example, a dietician could recommend a nutritional plan that would ensure that all necessary nutrients are consumed, deal with cravings, avoid “unnecessary” weight gain, and normalise the weight gain which is the by-product of necessary components i.e., placenta formation, amniotic fluid etc. A psychologist can work with you to address the psychological difficulties that your changing body creates, help you establish a healthier relationship with food and your body, work to address the thin ideals and change the lenses you use to look at your body. Your GP and your gynaecologist will monitor your own and the baby’s health, and feedback on whether anything needs adjusting from a biological perspective.
Being pregnant is surrounded by a lot of outside noise. It is of great importance to tune in and listen to your own experiences. At times it might be difficult to tune in to your inner experience because of all that noise. A psychologist can help you answer questions like “What do you need?”, “What will help you meet that need safely for all involved?”.
Try tailoring these to suit yourself, your family structure, who you are as a person. The things that come up for you showcase your own soft spots. They probably need your consideration and above all a lot of self-compassion in how you choose to deal with them.