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“Losing Yourself” through Pregnancy

May 06, 2024
“Losing Yourself” through Pregnancy

The transition from you to being a mama is already a natural thing. To some extent, most of us envision ourselves being different from our mothers. We are infinitely cooler and ready for this. 

Although we planned our babies and the journey to grow them and birth them, there’s a process that many people do not talk about that happens naturally to change you into a different person.  It’s a a beautiful unfolding of nature that happens gradually and subtlely.  It's unfolding.  In my private practice - that’s why I chose “Bloom” for the program I put together for helping pregnant women specifically because that’s what I see them do - they bloom becoming more complex and beautiful and they have no idea how it will happen. 

I was raised in the early 70’s and 80’s with the intention by my father to “not be dependent on a man.”  He was hell bent on making sure I was tough, having me play basketball in the boys league and let me help him fix cars or work with him renovating houses.  As a child - I was encouraged not only to embrace and smash the stereotypical archetypes of what a “girl” did as I held and loved on slimy frogs, played trucks, and was a fierce competitor encouraged to kick ass  and take names.  I wasn’t raised, despite having a prize winning debutant mama to be a shrinking violet.

Thankfully many of these gender lanes have become more fluid.

It went beyond that though.  The message infused into me as a small child was to be fiercely independent, handle your own shit, and don’t ever become dependent on anyone.  Even your own husband.

And I did.  I got a job in a predominantly male industry as a medic and loved it - the danger, the physicalness of it, and being in the action helping really sick people.

That was - until I had a baby.

While I’ve known many badass medics who carried babies and worked throughout most of their pregnancies like bosses, my pregnancy started right after staring at the stick with debilitating “morning” sickness - which really lasted all day, every day for months culminating with me throwing up on the back of a patient we were transferring to a litter in the ER.  *so embarrassing*

From the beginning - it started.  “You can’t lift that.”  “Go sit down.” Was always met with me being flippant and saying “I’m fine!  I got this.”  And I did.

Until I couldn’t.  And that’s where the wheels started to fly off.

I couldn’t put my pants on by myself.

I couldn’t lift that box without stabbing pain in my stomach.

I had to move to being a unit secretary in the ED and couldn’t run calls anymore

With my second, I almost lost her at 17 weeks and immediately was told I could not work. 

My mind could not deal with that….at all. 

When you are fiercely independent and handle your shit, shunning help from anyone cause you “got this” and then you can’t - is one giant mind screw that no one talks about.

I have been seeing patients for 20 years expecting who lose themselves in a way that is not a natural transition when they are faced with debilitating pain they did not expect.

In the snap of your fingers, the game changes in a way that they never expected:

To their spouse treats them colder because they are grouchy you kept them up all night with your flipping in bed and are wondering what happened to their vibrant, happy, fun wife.

Their work treats them at arm’s length because they are debilitatingly exhausted and they got caught sleeping at their desk when they were always the rockstar.

Their friends went for a hike and didn’t invite them because they are sick of hearing about their sciatica and just thought they couldn’t do it.

To not be able to do your job anymore earlier like you thought.

To some - it’s a loss of identity.

It’s like being the starter on a basketball team your whole life and you get benched to watch the world go by. That loss of independence and status of ‘handing your own shit” and now being dependent on someone else is a huge shift that causes intense feelings for us control freak, “we got it” women. 

For women on the struggle bus with intense back and lower back pain, pubic pain, headaches, and wrist pain - there’s a secondary and mentally painful transition of losing yourself first.  Being dependent on others.  Being subject to someone else helping you with basic needs whether it’s opening that jar, carrying that package, or just putting your own pants on.  It bucks firmly against being weak, submissive, and dependent and leaves many of us who crave independence and control wondering how to “be.”

I submit to you, as a doctor who has cared for hundreds of pregnant women and  an almost 50 year old woman myself who has been through some stuff as most of us 50 year olds have - that there are “seasons.”  One of my friends, Cara Frank, an acupuncturist, spoke in my business class about how life is built in a natural order.  No matter what happens - if you are in a ‘winter” season, life will give birth to a beautiful spring, like clockwork every year giving way to summer and then ebbing into fall. 

This “season” you are in - is temporary.  While getting treated differently and not being able to do things - and here’s the important point - temporarily. Just a short time. To see the lessons and beauty in the change:

To see what it’s like to have other’s find joy in finally being able to help you.

To learn to articulate your needs.

To see who are your real friends.

To let yourself be cared for.

It’s a season.

It’s not forever, love.

This is not just for pregnancy but beyond.

After I had my daughter, I could not be a medic anymore without crying on pediatrics calls.  Other women I have seen had a change in priorities, touting proudly that they would come back to work when they got out of the hospital.  To thinking about a new career that gives the flexibility to build a life along with this new love of yours that is bigger than anything you have ever felt.

Part of the reason I adore caring for pregnant women is seeing this transition and helping empower and guide them through this time giving them the tools to be as independent and yet supported to have their back during this time. 

Just like watching the seasons change, so do they.  And from the outside - it’s an amazing process - if you can learn to let go a bit and enjoy the ride - however different - trusting that just like a cocoon - who you will be when this is all over - because it *will* end giving way to a new season - you accept that maybe the first big lesson in motherhood, having things outside your control and learning to see the lessons and the beauty in it like I do every day.

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