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The Culture Shock of Being Pregnant

By Jocelyne 

 

I am a lifetime pro-lifer. I have a supportive husband, family focused friends, and caring parents and in-laws. I did not have any complications in pregnancy—not even morning sickness!—but pregnancy was still so difficult. I am now in awe of the many women, and especially single mothers, who have chosen to take the self-sacrificial journey of motherhood, and who by doing so enter into battle with our modern ideals of womanhood.

Loss of Control of your Body

I struggled with a minor eating disorder after I gained my freshman fifteen. With the pregnancy weight gain, I began to convince myself that my husband was no longer attracted to me.  Like many other women, I am not immune to our cultural ideal of feminine sex appeal. I mean, I was a newlywed and my looks had gotten me my man, right? Pregnancy demanded that I sacrifice my beautiful body to let it become a vessel for my baby.

Exhaustion Unlike Anything Felt Before

I worked full-time for the first six months. I would go to bed at 9pm, wake up at 7am, and take a nap after work. Sometimes I would take naps on my breaks at work. I was utterly, completely exhausted—not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally. Although I have two degrees, I could not do anything that required much brainpower. A few extra tasks by my boss would sometimes have me in tears. A friend of mine in the army confessed, “I never cried in army boot camp, but now that I’m pregnant, I cry all the time.”     

Identity Crisis

I tutor a young girl of seven and we used to take recesses by running around in her basement. After a few months I could no longer run. Suddenly gone was the fun, cool, pretty older sister, and here was the slow and responsible parent. And to my parents, there I was suddenly looking just like them. I hurt to see those changes—I missed my fun and free girlish self! And as much as I knew these changes were inevitable and good, I mourned the loss of my youth.  

A Supportive Husband

My husband told me that this title is not politically correct. I insisted that his unwavering and positive support had gotten me through the pregnancy. The best thing a pregnant woman can have is a loving and committed man who walks with her every step of the way, living the sorrows and the joys, anticipating parenthood together. For this reason, single mothers, or women with unsupportive husbands, need all the more encouragement because they are tackling alone something that was made for two people to handle together.

General Encouragement from my Community

I came to accept the way I looked while pregnant simply through the persistent encouragement of friends and family. Other mothers who had had children also helped me with their assurance and empathetic excitement. A day-by-day baby email update, mom’s group, and even just seeing photos of beautiful pregnant women online (I did a Google search!) helped me accept physical changes and anticipate baby.

Being Merciful to Myself

Gradually I began to accept that I could not do what I used to do. I resisted the cultural norms of efficiency, proactivity, and multi-tasking. Since I would be giving up my career, I refused to feel jealous of other women who had “made it” or were “successful.” My peace burgeoned as I turned from “doing” to “being.”

My Dream

While being pregnant, I physically went from being a slim, pretty, educated career woman to a chubby, awkward, homemaker. But internally I blossomed into a real woman. I felt as if a veil had lifted between what I thought was my ideal of life and beauty and the new and beautiful wonder I discovered in my motherhood. I dream that everyone in Canada will one day pray, “Blessed is the mother whose faith brings her family courage, whose wisdom improves society, whose children stand and honour her.”

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