Before the holidays, my husband and I are found out we will be adding a fourth baby to our family. I am due this summer, and I am thrilled, elated, excited, overjoyed -- ecstatic, even. What I also am is exhausted. Completely and utterly, bone-achingly, base level exhausted.
The kind of exhausted you are when you wake up in the morning after like 10 hours of sleep and can't believe how tired you still are or that you have to start your entire day feeling like that. The kind of exhausted where taking a shower saps you of that last tiny little reserve of energy you had. The kind of exhaustion that makes you wonder if you actually have mono or if this really is just that dreaded first trimester tiredness rearing it's unwelcome head. It is the kind of tired that brings tears to your eyes because you can't imagine one more day of getting through it all feeling this completely drained, and it can take an emotional toll as well. Lying on the couch like a limp nauseous noodle, especially when you have approximately 30 billion things to do and an energetic toddler tugging on your sleeve, can be guilt-inducing and anxiety-producing. Feeling like you are wallowing in a shallow pool of self-pity while you should be bursting with gratitude only serves to make you feel worse.
Now, before you jump all over me, let me just say how (again) entirely happy and grateful I am to be having another baby. Reminding me of this fact helps to buoy me up during the most difficult days (some of which were spent recently dealing with strep throat and morning sickness at the same time, so fun!). I wish I was one of those women who could walk around basking in the loveliness that can be pregnancy, glowing from within from the absolutely astonishing life-creating powers I possess, beaming with the pride of collective maternal contentment. But I'm not. And that's OK.
Just like parenting when the baby is outside of your body, it's OK to complain about the crappy parts, and that doesn't need to take away from the overall greatness of it. It doesn't make you a bad mom if you hated being pregnant, it doesn't make you a bad mom if you wish you could just speed up the whole nine months for the baby payoff at the end. Even if you aren't doing belly painting and maternity photo shoots, you are still a good mom.
As much as I am a supporter of the whole "gratefulness" movement, I feel like it has taken on an unnecessary fervor when it comes to parenting. Blog posts and Pinterest pins remind us to be grateful all the time. The little things and the big things, the small stuff like messy handprints on your wall and Play-Doh stuck in your carpet. Don't blink and miss these precious moments! Don't you dare be ungrateful for what you have! Sometimes, the idea of practicing gratefulness for every moment can make you feel like a horrible person if you really do not feel that great about cleaning puke off your bathroom floor after the stomach bug visited your house. Maybe the kids are being particularly loud and annoying that day, maybe you're just having a crappy day, maybe you aren't thrilled with having to pay an electric bill that is twice as high this month because of a lovely Polar Vortex, whatever it is, it is OK to think it sucks sometimes. And while I know that some of you might argue, "At least you have kids even if they are being loud," or "Be grateful that you even have a home to heat and money to pay that bill," and I respect that, I also respect the right to vent. That's right, vent away my friends.
Sometimes venting is just the pathway to gratefulness, after all. When people ask me how I am feeling about this pregnancy (depending on which level of mood swing I am on at that particular moment, levels vary wildly on some days) I sometimes answer with, "Well I spent my morning throwing up in the shower and then searching for the one pair of yoga pants that fit me comfortably and I flipped out on a beer commercial for making me cry, but after this nine months is over I will feel pretty great about having another baby." And usually, after getting a little of that out, I do actually feel better, and, dare I say it, maybe even a little grateful (especially if someone brings me buffalo chicken dip). And I think I even inspire others to feel grateful as well, some of them then feel grateful that they themselves aren't pregnant at that moment, so there's that too.
All I'm saying is, don't beat yourself up if you're not one of those women who loves every minute of being pregnant. If your experience is less glow and more blow, don't sweat it. It has zero impact on what your experience will be as a mom. Whether it is your first or fifth, don't feel guilty if pregnancy isn't the most beautiful experience of your life. Just grab some cheesecake and get through it.
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