How I learned to Manage An Emotional Pregnancy
It has been quite some time since I posted on MANNA and I have a good reason. I am pregnant with my second child and I underestimated how exhausting it would be chasing a toddler while waddling around with an expanding bump like a duck and trying to carve out time to write. (See update at the end of this post.) A few months ago, I shared my less than pleasant feelings about being pregnant and to be honest not much has changed—sort of. I am still not really enjoying maternity, but I did take a few trips and made a few changes to relieve some of my emotional and physical stress.
All I Can Do Is Keep Breathing
Remember that episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Burke no shows for his wedding to Christina Yang and she completely breaks down crying while clawing at her wedding dress to get it off. She starts mumbling something and you realize she is saying that she is finally free. She felt suffocated and needed to get that dress off to breathe again. All the while Ingrid Michaelson’s song Keep Breathing is playing.
I really identify with that moment. Not that I feel like I want to rip my baby bump off, but sometimes I feel totally suffocated by life and all the thoughts in my head. I worry, I stress, I cry, I feel guilt, I feel insecure, and I just kind of feel like a hot mess of a mom, wife, and human. After torturing myself a bit, I cue up Michaelson’s song and I remember:
All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
After receiving such positive encouragement and feedback on my post about not loving pregnancy from other women, I realized that I needed to just take a deep breath, keep breathing, and try to live in my present. By breathing and being present in each moment is the only way to get me through these times. There are so many things out of my control and all my worry and stress is not actually bringing me closer to any solutions or alleviating my feelings. The only thing I can do is take each day as it comes.
Throughout pregnancy with yoga and in labor all anyone tells you is to breathe! We anxiously wait for our new baby to take that first breath. Everything comes back to breathing. Maybe life is like yoga and we have to breathe to ease ourselves from one position or moment to the next. Or perhaps life is like contraction pains and we have to breathe through the pain to get us to the ultimate goal. When my baby takes his first breath he will be free from my womb and able to live—just like when I actually relax and breathe, I will start to feel a bit free from depression and my dark thoughts. It seems like I could go on making these (maybe cheesy?) metaphors but they all seem to work!
I tried looking for a psychiatrist or therapist who could help me through my rough patch, but was not successful finding the perfect match. (It’s not easy to find an English speaking therapist and then make sure you gel with them.) I haven’t given up that search as I believe talking to someone is very helpful. However as I decided to keep breathing and trying to live in the moment, I also took a few other steps to help me feel less suffocated by myself and my situation.
At the beginning of the summer, I took a solo family-free trip to Le Perche, which is a beautiful small area in Normandy an hour away from Paris. I spent three glorious days alone to read, take walks, and just be. I look forward to sharing more about that trip soon here on MANNA. All mothers should find some time alone to relax and rejuvenate because I learned it is so refreshing and necessary.
After Normandy, instead of worrying about plugging into Paris, making/maintaining friends, keeping up with the “blog mom” Joneses, exercise and preparing for the new baby, we packed some bags and rented a beautiful house with a pool in Provence for 6 weeks. I took this time to really be present with my daughter and invited a few of my old dear friends from my New York City life to come visit. It was so easy to forget about how being pregnant made me feel when I was taking adventures almost every day to little towns with Noomi, laying by the pool, and laughing with friends who have known me long before I was an expat mom trying to find my place. Most importantly I really got to be present with my child and spend quality time with her. It was in that joy of sunshine and being present that I was able to remember to keep breathing and slow down. Which brings me to my next realization.
Turn! Turn! Turn!: To Everything There Is A Season
Part of my frustration with being pregnant is the lack of control over my body and my days. I lack energy and motivation most days and battle fatigue and Pelvic Girdle Pain (Syndrome de Lacomme) every day. In my previous post I also shared with you guys how annoyed I feel looking at my long “to-do” list go unchecked. I had so many post ideas and projects I want/wanted to launch for MANNA. I was just tumbling into self-doubt and sadness at feeling like a failure that I was letting this beautiful thing I started here on this site crash.
After chatting with some wonderful girlfriends I remembered something I learned a long time ago: for everything there is a season. It’s like that 1956 song Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds, which comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. This is my season to be pregnant and that means it might not be the time for prolific writing and building a business or advancing my career. This might not be the time for getting up at the crack of dawn to start my day, running around Paris to get the best images, or enjoying swathes of time for creating content. This might not be my time for a crazy active social life, networking all around town and a long “to-do” list. When that baby boy comes, it will be another season and then it might still not be my season to be career girl or super mom either. I will have to see when that time comes.
Everyone is different and has different seasons and stages they go through. Whether you want to look at it as stages or seasons, it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes we need to be reminded that life moves through these different times when we take on other roles and life looks a bit different than it did before or will after. One of my best friends recently shared a wonderful quote by Theodore Roosevelt with me: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This couldn’t be more true! We have to stop comparing ourselves to other women because nothing good ever comes out of doing that.
Believe me, I am really preaching to myself here because right now this is super challenging thanks to social media and FOMO. It is better for me to embrace this place I am in until my season turns. I just need to keep cueing up that song and thinking: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose in my life.
There you have it. I decided to take a deep breath and embrace my life in the place it is. This is not my time for daily blog and social media posts and growing my business to what I hope it will become. I applaud the other mothers who can do this, but for me that time will come later. For now I am “leaning in” to #slowmotherhood, #slowliving and #mindfulmotherhood . So I am putting my feet up some days, taking naps when I am tired, sleeping in when I can, reading books, and writing a lighter to-do list.
Since I will post less frequently for right now, you can subscribe to the newsletter to know when new posts are up and follow along on Instagram.
A big thank you to all my friends and readers for encouraging comments and messages about my feelings of prenatal depression. Going through a hard time feels less lonely with kind words.
Update: I wrote this article and planned to post it a little over two weeks ago. Then a little surprise shook things up and my son was born a month early. Luckily we took these pregnancy pics the very day before he arrived. I still think it’s important to share how I pushed through the final months of prenatal depression in hopes it helps another mother out there. I am starting a new season of motherhood and look forward to sharing more.
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