It’s revolutionary to be able to say, “Yes, I love my child, and no, I'm not feeling very good."
Pregnancy is mysterious, miraculous, and life-changing. It’s a time of wonder, a time of anticipation — and honestly, it’s usually also pretty terrible. It’s really hard to be pregnant. It’s hard to see your body changing so fast it becomes unfamiliar. It can be scary to be the only thing protecting your intensely vulnerable child from the dangerous outside world. Even a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, where you are surrounded by supportive, understanding people, can be, well, terrible.
It’s hard to talk about how tough it is. That’s because there’s an expectation that pregnant women — as long as they’re not dehydrated from throwing up, or bedridden from preeclampsia or something — should be filled with wonder, anticipation, and joy. After all, don’t we love our unborn child? Aren’t we excited and grateful? What’s a little nausea and heartburn in comparison with such a gift?
But even when we are grateful, even when we are in awe, we might also hurt all over, and be totally overwhelmed, and be beyond frustrated at how difficult things like bending over are. So it’s very important that we get comfortable speaking the truth, even when it doesn’t make a good Hallmark card. Some days, being pregnant is terrible. Say it with me: It’s okay to hate being pregnant.
It’s really okay to hate being pregnant. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to be pregnant. It doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for this miracle, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten how much worse other people may be feeling who maybe can’t get pregnant. You’re still allowed to hate being pregnant.
In a culture where we’re expected to either end our unwanted pregnancies, or glow with bliss through every minute of every one of them, it’s revolutionary to be able to say, “Yes, I love my child, and no, I’m not feeling too hot, actually.”
We feel so guilty saying even that, and so embarrassed. We feel like if we were only better mothers, better women, better Christians, we really would love these nine months.
But you know what? Being pregnant is not a skill. It’s not something you can be good or bad at. There’s literally no connection between how much you enjoy your pregnancies, and how much you love your children. If the world cannot recognize that it’s possible to place the utmost value on our children’s lives, but not have fun bringing them into the world, then they have a lot to learn. That’s why we need to get more comfortable answering “How are you feeling?” with the truth.
That’s what everyone always wants to know, don’t they? “How are you feeling?” And as I lean slightly backwards, balancing the weight of my massive pregnant belly, even then, I feel an expectation to smile and say, “Oh, yes, I’m doing just fine!” After all, I’m standing up, right? I love this child, don’t I? But I’m not fine, and there should be no shame in answering with the truth, even when that is, “I’m miserable, and I can’t wait for this to be over.”
The same with the question, “Oh, how did the birth go?” I’ve started answering, “We-e-e-ll, there were no complications, but I didn’t, like, enjoy it or anything. It was actually pretty awful.”
One reason we feel so much pressure to declare that everything’s fine is because we’re trying to witness to the value of the life of our child an gift of being a mother. We don’t want to make people think that having children is so terrible that you should avoid it at any cost. But actually, speaking the truth is a witness to our child’s value more than anything else could be. Saying “I hate this,” brings with it the all-important subtext that the child’s life is more than worth the pain, whatever that pain may be.
So yeah, don’t be afraid to say that being pregnant (and giving birth) can be pretty terrible. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. And you’ll see, it’s surprisingly liberating to finally be able to say it.