Pregnancy: a study in ambivalence

Even though approximately half of the pregnancies in this country are unplanned, the vast majority of the pregnant women I see for counseling very much want to be pregnant. But I think that most pregnant women do the rest of us a disservice, since people aren’t necessarily all that honest about how they feel. Most of my patients feel incredibly embarrassed about complaining about their symptoms, and perceive that they won’t get much sympathy from others, since after all, they conceived purposefully.

But I am here to trumpet the fact that no matter how much you may have wanted to conceive, that doesn’t guarantee that you will feel fabulous for nine months. People do talk about morning sickness, and among close friends, the need to pee all the time. But most women don’t feel comfortable talking openly about how they are really feeling, except maybe to their partner. Even their mother may not provide all that much sympathy. I remember telling my mom how tired I was of being nauseous all the time, about 12 weeks into my first pregnancy. Her response? That she was nauseous for the whole nine months with me, so I didn’t have all that much to complain about. Yet.

There are many women who feel great during their pregnancies, and some who say it is the best they ever feel. I am envious. But for most women, the fatigue and nausea and bloating and gas and constant trips to the bathroom and hemorrhoids and vomiting are the norm. Temporary for sure, but still harder than most women were led to expect. So if you are feeling yuckier than you expected, please don’t feel guilty or odd or worry that this means you aren’t going to be a happy mother. There is some research which says that the harder you have to work for something, the more you enjoy it when you achieve it (which is why I think that lobster and ribs are my favorite foods).  So if that is the case, if you are feeling less than wonderful, perhaps it means you will enjoy or appreciate motherhood even more.