Nobody warned me it would be ugly.
We spent five long years waiting for this chance. Five long years we spent praying, hoping, crying, giving up. Five years we waited for the day that the pregnancy test would be positive.
This year, it finally happened. Finally there was joy and excitement, anticipation and planning.
But nobody said there would also be loneliness, solitude, anxiety, anger.
How can I feel alone? I have a loving husband, who would carry this child if he could. I have devoted friends and family. I work in an incredibly supportive environment.
That doesn’t stop the loneliness from creeping in sometimes.
While I revel in the life growing inside me, I long for the life I used to live. I feel like I’m on a radically different path, and I have serious FOMO. My friends are climbing mountains, performing here and there, drinking and talking till sunrise. They’re exploring new lands, working on fascinating new projects, learning so many new things.
While I have so many friends who are pregnant, or have recently given birth, sometimes it still feels like nobody understands what I’m going through. The symptoms might be the same. Some conditions might be the same. Most pregnancies are nine months long, and result in a new life (or more). How different is one pregnancy from another, anyway?
But every pregnancy is different. Every journey towards pregnancy is different. And every woman experiences each pregnancy differently.
I had some symptoms but not others. My friends had this or that, and I didn’t. And though I could talk about my woes, my pains and discomforts, though Oneal exerted every effort to make me comfortable and to ease my distress, there weren’t enough words or emoji to express how upset I was. And I was upset over so many things: my aching back, asthma, my swelling feet, this constant fatigue, abstinence from some food and drink, the ebb and flow of my libido, restriction from physical activity. I detested the fact that there were so many things I couldn’t do, because either I just wasn’t capable, or because it was harmful somehow. Sometimes, the restrictions felt like chains on my freedom.
I talked to other women about these symptoms and feelings. I plowed through Google results. I scoured the pregnancy blogs and apps. I read about the causes and signs, and learned about remedies and relief. And I found advice and happy thoughts, “It’ll pass” or “It’s a good sign.” There was “It’s for the good of the baby,” and “Just hang in there, mama!” Oh, “It’s all worth it for your little one!” and “You’ll feel better once you look into your baby’s beautiful eyes.” But there wasn’t a whole lot on the frustration, anger and loneliness that came with these symptoms. Was I the only one who felt upset that I couldn’t wear my pretty shoes on my swollen feet? Was I the only one who was angry that I couldn’t fit in my snug skirts and pants? Did nobody else get frustrated that they couldn’t travel or go running?
Why did it feel like I was the only one who was so upset about these things? Why did it feel like everyone else’s pregnancy was all about food cravings and shopping for the most adorable clothes, while I was fixating on all the things I couldn’t do?
Perhaps the worst was the guilt that came with these feelings. I was supposed to be cheerful, hopeful, joyful, glowing, expectant, all the happy, positive things. And I was, fairly often. It’s just that I was also angry, upset, lonely, frustrated, confused, and a whole host of other not-so-happy things. And I knew that if I talked about these not-so-happy things, people would say things like, “Ganyan talaga,” or “But you wanted this”–things that aren’t really helpful or sympathetic.
And then there was the isolation. I couldn’t travel. I couldn’t go out and drink with my friends. I couldn’t eat at random places. My friends were performing, drinking, going on food trips and adventures, hiking up volcanoes. I had to stay home and rest. I didn’t bother going out, because traffic was bad, because I couldn’t drink anyway, because people were smoking there, because the event would end too late, because the venue was too far. And over the next few days I saw photos, and everyone seemed so happy, and I wondered, did they miss me at all? Did they realize I wasn’t there? Did they forget about me?
Nobody warned me about all that.
Nobody warned me about the crying fits I would have in the bathroom at work, in bed in the middle of the night. My chest was heaving as tears rolled down my cheeks and my breath became ragged. Nobody warned me about the anxiety attacks that would trigger the tears. Nobody warned me about the fears of being a terrible mother, of eating something bad or doing something wrong and endangering my child somehow. Nobody warned me about the fear that I was somehow losing myself, and the anger that people would forget who I was and what I could do because the ‘important thing’ was that I was going to be a mother and that takes precedence.
Nobody warned me about how angry I would be about other people imposing their beliefs and feelings on MY pregnancy.
The good thing was that it did pass. Eventually I felt the kicks come in. Between the mood swings, I felt joy and excitement over my growing belly. I made plans with friends, fixing my schedule so that I could go out and still have time to rest and recover. I stopped obsessing over how often and how drastically my body changed, and instead imagined how drastically life would change when the little one arrived.
I still get angry and upset. Sometimes I still feel lonely and confused. And you know what? I’ve learned that it’s okay to feel all that, because pregnancy is hella scary and life-changing.