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Brittney Harrison

What To Expect When You’re Expecting: Behind the Bump.

Pregnancy is beautiful…but let’s be real for a second. It is so much more than just carrying your offspring in your uterus for nine ten months. It’s more than gaining weight, odd food cravings, and crazy symptoms. It’s more than a cute sonogram picture stuck to your fridge and buying blue or pink clothes. It’s more than the perfect highlights that you see on TV and in movies. A lot of emotions come with taking on this job, and they’re not always easy to navigate when there’s nothing you can do to control them. Behind the growing belly is a person working hard to mentally keep it together. Sometimes there’s much more to it than just what people allow you to see.

I’m currently 5 months pregnant with our second child, and I couldn’t be more grateful for our feisty, karate kicking, baby girl. When I first saw that positive pregnancy test, I was on cloud 9. I can clearly remember how I jumped around excitedly and cried tears of joy. Shawn and I had been trying to conceive for a little while by that point, and we couldn’t have been more ecstatic. We had just bought and moved into our first house, and the timing was perfect for us. I couldn’t wait to share our big news with everyone we loved and complete our family with another perfect child.

Once that beloved first trimester started and the morning (and noon…and night) sickness took over my life, that excitement dwindled a little and got replaced with misery. I was sick every minute of the day, couldn’t get simple things done around the house, and lost countless hours with my boys due to sleeping as much as I could. To make things worse, the guilt of not being the mom I was used to being was overwhelming. I give my all to my son (or at least I try to) every single day. From morning snuggles to bedtime stories, we’re always together. We play, we learn, we bond…and suddenly I was trying to find the strength to make him a bowl of cereal and turning on the TV to keep him busy and quiet. When my husband was home, he took on the roles I was slacking in…but although I couldn’t have been more thankful for him, I felt like I was missing out on everything. I was failing.

Those first couple of months sucked, to put it simply. They drained me and made me feel like the worst mother and wife in the world. However, I would have taken all of that any day over what came next; the sickness, the exhaustion, the guilt – it all took a back seat one day to a new emotion that hit me like a truck. Fear.

I started noticing it in small waves, coming and going at random times. I began questioning every little thing. I would grow nervous every time I went to the bathroom, afraid that I would see something I didn’t want to. I started researching all the symptoms I hadn’t experienced before, and monitoring any and all changes. I would cry at any given moment, overcome with uneasiness and dread. I became completely and overly anxious and fearful about my pregnancy. I felt like at any moment, something was going to go horribly wrong. What would make me think that? Was my baby okay? Was my intuition trying to tell me something?

Don’t ask me why I felt this way. I suffer from other kinds of anxiety, but I never saw this coming. I loved being pregnant. I had no reason to believe that anything was (or would go) wrong, and I never once dealt with this feeling with my first. With Weston, everything was new. I was a rookie that was experiencing it all for the first time, and I was blind to the fact that although the chances were slim, complications could possibly occur. You just think to yourself “get pregnant, have a baby, live happily ever after.” Simple. Once he was born and I officially became a mom, and realized what loving someone like that entailed, I was thrown into the world of negative “what if” scenarios. You get reminded constantly of all the scary, unthinkable occurences that could happen to your defenseless little creations. All the different ways you could mess up as a parent, all the things that could happen to your child without warning or reason. The thought is paralyzing, and it makes you more cautious than you ever were pre-parenthood.

Knowing what I know now, I understood perfectly this time around. In just a few short years, I had heard it all. I had listened to the devastating stories. I had read the heartbreaking news articles. I witnessed loved ones suffer through traumatic experiences. I was so aware of all the bad that could take place. These terrible, unplanned things happen to women (and men) every day. Even though they’re good, kind people…even though they do everything right…things just happen. No one ever understands why.

I couldn’t help but worry that I would be next.

If I’m being honest, I was getting on my own nerves a little. One of my biggest pet peeves is people not appreciating what they’re given, and I didn’t want the universe (or anyone else) thinking that I was ungrateful by being so pessimistic. It was the exact opposite. I was so unbelievably grateful for what I had that I was terrified of losing it. I was scared that if I said or did one wrong thing, my gift would get taken away.

I didn’t breathe my first sigh of relief until we finally had our first check-up. We confirmed my pregnancy, had my exam done, and were told that everything looked normal so far. Although I felt better, the worries still didn’t go away. I needed to be sure. It wasn’t until our next appointment, where we had an ultrasound and got to see our precious baby with our own eyes, that the weight from my chest was finally lifted. I could see our little peanut floating around on the screen, see the strong beating heart…and for the first time since finding out our big news, was finally able to breathe and embrace the beginning of this new adventure for us. Our baby was safe, healthy, and on their way.

Since then, it’s been such a beautiful journey. I’ve been able to witness our son taking on his new role as big brother (he’s taken his job very seriously since the day we told him), and my heart wants to explode at the way he loves his sister already. Our little family has grown even closer and are cherishing our moments together, while also counting down the days until we transition from a party of 3 to 4. I’m also loving this time to get to know my daughter and create this bond with her that will continue to grow and flourish once she’s here.

I won’t lie. I still hold my breath sometimes in that exam room – in the silence right before my midwife finds a heartbeat. Then I hear my little girl, strong and healthy, reminding me that I need to exhale and let go…and I listen to her. Everything is okay.

No one can help how they feel. Our minds can’t be turned on and off like light switches. Sometimes we struggle through emotions we never planned to have to face, and it’s pointless to try ignoring them. All we can do is work through it and find ways to quiet those negative voices in our heads, and remember to count the blessings we’ve been given.

We have just a few short months to go, and although I can’t wait for May to get here, I will not waste another second worrying about things that are out of my control. I won’t let the anxiety and the fear ruin this magical, fleeting time in my life. I’m savoring every single moment of this journey with my unborn daughter, my body, and my awaiting family…all while trying my best to be a little kinder to myself. I’m embracing my days of being a walking basketball and a human food vacuum, with a bladder the size of a thimble. I’m taking it all in. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the special and the not-so-fun moments. Just like that little stick that made me jump for joy back in August, I’m being fully positive.

Give yourself a break. This is not easy for everyone. This process is not always black or white – sometimes it holds a gray area with fear and sadness; anguish and doubt. Realease those fears, breathe, and trust your body. Take care of yourself physically, but mentally as well. Nurture your mind and don’t forget to focus on what’s going on behind the bump.

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