Here's a helpful skill every pregnant mom can stand to learn!
I got pregnant almost immediately after my wedding, and boy was that a confusing time of my life. I wanted my husband to see me as a cheerful, upbeat partner, but gosh, was every pregnancy supposed to be this hard?? I didn’t like how much I was starting to complain, so I made a resolution to keep my troubles to myself.
Of course, that was a terrible idea. It didn’t make me any less frightened or uncomfortable. It just deprived me of the support and understanding that my husband wanted to give me. And it made me a little bit resentful, too. Couldn’t he see how hard it was to be seven months pregnant, even without me letting him know?
That hadn’t worked, so the next pregnancy I gave myself full permission to complain. Also a terrible idea. After a few months, I had accidentally given my husband the impression that he needed to step in and do everything for me because hard things were too hard for me. And since I was monopolizing the conversation, he didn’t feel like he should bring his own troubles to the table. Now he was the one feeling invisible and unseen.
There’s a way to talk about what’s negative in your life, however, without slipping into the sort of complaining that makes your life feel bleak and burdensome. Avoiding becoming a complainer has nothing to do with the fact that you’re sharing your troubles, and everything to do with the way you’re sharing them. I’m pregnant now for a third time, and here’s what’s been working for me:
Share your troubles … but with courage
Instead of saying, “This is hard,” say, “This is hard, and I can do hard things.” You’re not putting an unrealistically positive spin on things; you’re just telling the truth. You’re still being fair to the suffering that’s in front of you — but you’re coming at it with courage, not despair. It’s the difference between saying what’s true: “Everything hurts and I can’t handle my life right now,” and saying what’s even more true: “Everything hurts, and I need a lot of extra bravery to get myself through the end of the week — and that’s okay.”
Share your troubles … but with gratitude
I’ll say,“Wow, this pregnancy is knocking me out, but wow, I guess it’s pretty great that we’re getting a third baby out of this.” The joy in the new baby doesn’t negate the hardship of the present moment. It doesn’t minimize the pain that you might be in. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s important for your loved ones to know you’re going through something difficult. It just adds another factor that’s also worth remembering — that this baby is a massive blessing. Those two ideas can absolutely coexist with each other.
Share your troubles … but with acceptance
When I say “Ugh, this is so hard, but other people have it worse,” I’m acting as though my suffering doesn’t count, in comparison with yours. Or if I say “I am drowning in depression, but I shouldn’t be. Don’t I think this baby is a blessing?” I’ve immediately tried to erase the validity of my experience. I’m learning to talk about what’s hard with acceptance. It’s hard — it just is — and that’s all there is to it. Full stop. Then when I bring it up, I am not also accidentally giving myself or anyone else the impression that my hardship makes me weak or deficient.
These habits have been good for me. They help me feel seen and heard, but still strong and capable. They’re good for my husband too, who gets to understand what I’m experiencing, without the oppressing atmosphere of negativity. And I hope that this habit will be good for my kids, as well, so they can learn that there’s nothing wrong with giving voice to your troubles in a way that’s healthy and helpful.