There are so many wonderful things about being pregnant: the feeling of being superwoman, knowing that something you made and is a part of you is actually growing inside of you, knowing you’re expanding your family and this tiny little thing will be in your arms mere months from now, baby pops, kicks, and flutters… The list does go on. While there’s all of this “awesome” going on in my little ecosystem of a body, there are some not-so-great things.
No, I’m not talking about morning sickness, back pain, dizziness, swollen feet – though they are all quite sucky to deal with… No, I’m talking about those other things, the seemingly uncontrollables. At least that’s how I think of them. Sure, on some level everything can be controlled to a degree, but there are some things that (for me) are more difficult. Please, I can handle the back pain – I’ve dealt with it on and off my whole life. The swollen feet? Ya, that’s odd, but partly my fault since I don’t drink enough water, but I’m working on it! The morning sickness? I didn’t get it too terribly, the nausea was awful, but I expected it to be a lot worse.
Pregnancy is an anxiety-inducing time for many people. Every experience is different, every pregnancy has different side-effects. What about those people who go in with things they suffer from? For me this is anxiety; a smaller, less significant version of the larger disorders many folks suffer from, but anxiety nonetheless. My anxiety stems from things being out of my control. This is where my medical phobia stems from (needles… ugh.) Honestly, prior to being pregnant, I had a decent hold on this issue and am proud of the fact that I’ve come so far over the last many years. Taking lack of control with stride was still an opportunity, but one I’d gotten a grasp on.
Now – when you get pregnant, you learn that there will be many things that happen beyond your control. Most things you can expect, however. Baby brain? Now that’s a different beast entirely. I figured, “Oh, I’ve got this. I will just make lists, take notes, and just work through it.” Great plan, right? Yes. Until it’s not. I have my planner. I have my lists. I have my notes. But I think my brain itself is on a vacation. I’ve been leaving my cell phone in the same place almost every day, but still freaking out when I can’t find it. My sunglasses get left in much of the same manner. I’m forgetting what I did ten minutes prior. Heck, the other day I forgot to eat lunch! I woke up the other night and realized I never took my prenatal. The list goes on…
Logically I know that these things aren’t big deals, but psychologically? Ha, that’s another story. If I forget to do something, leave someone out of something important, or make someone upset in some way, my guilt jumps in right next to my anxiety. The two become bosom buddies and they play off one another. (The bastards!)
I’ve learned that, regardless of what I do to try to prevent it, pregnancy brain is a thing. It’s not a myth. And there aren’t many things a person can do to prevent it. It’s similar to what someone goes through with short-term memory loss, as least that’s how I see it. Once I came to this realization, my next steps weren’t trying to figure out how to prevent it anymore, they were how to deal with these things when they come up. Here are some of the really helpful things I’ve found help:
- Yoga – Now, I’ve never seriously done yoga before pregnancy, but I started as a suggestion from friends and my doctor. I’ve found that there are some moves that really help when I’ve got an onset of stress or anxiety. I’m a big fan of re-centering myself mentally now. [Some other really great bonuses of pre-natal yoga are the alleviation of body pain (for me it’s my back) and preparation for childbirth (oh boy!)] Here are some poses that have helped me, but please keep in mind you will need to modify them to accommodate your growing baby belly. There is no such thing as executing the “perfect yoga pose”. We all bend and center differently, just listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Child’s Pose, the Dog and Cat Stretch, and Cobbler’s Pose are a few of my go-to poses. I have also started throwing in some ballet bar exercises to get the blood flowing and put my focus elsewhere. A lot of places offer pre-natal yoga classes, just look for some in your area! I will be continuing with more intensive yoga after this little bub is born once I get the go-ahead from my doctor, but until then I will continue to explore this world.
- Talk It Out – This only works if you have someone who is honestly willing to listen. Keep in mind that YOU count. Say something aloud to yourself if you need to. I am lucky and have an incredible husband who has been very forgiving with my extra onset of crazy. We have our own system worked out for when I need to take a step away for a minute and then revisit a conversation. He listens when I need him to, he reminds me to do things, and he seems to get what’s going on (even if he isn’t experiencing it.) I also find that talking to people who have “been there” and have been pregnant before helps. For others, talking to a professional such as your doctor or a therapist may help. Mommy support groups are another great outlet. For others, keeping a journal is beneficial because you are confiding to this book that you can choose to let someone read or keep to yourself.
- Get Out A Book – Read things. Books. Magazines. Fan fiction. Distract your mind and escape to another place. I’m a book blogger and reviewer, so I am consistently surrounded by books. I have always used books as an outlet. There’s something about opening up the little world between those covers and going on a trip.
- Have A Good Cry – I laughed as I typed this one because it’s so true. There are times when nothing else works and you’ve been bottling it in for so long that crying is the option left. Something may set you off, or it may just be ready to spill over. Ideally this happens in private, but I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone. Just keep a box of tissues nearby because your body is producing so many extra tears, and then there’s the stuffy nose that suddenly springs free… But, my goodness, that cry feels good sometimes.
Most importantly – Accept What You Can Not Change – This is a big learning curve and may not happen to the fullest extent. Just know that you will misplace things, forget a birthday, not include someone in something, miscommunicate or forget what you’re saying mid-sentence, get angry or sad at the smallest or largest thing… And not everyone will get it. This tiny human is growing in you and much of that is beyond your control. You are a wonderful, beautiful, and strong vessel. Much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Not everyone will understand that this is a very different experience than simply forgetting something, getting angry or sad about something, or being petty… You’re pregnant. You’re a superhero. And you’ve got a lot going on.
What have been some of your pregnancy brain experiences? Have you done anything to help alleviate them? Share in the comments!
I look forward to posting something else for you in the next couple of days…. if I can remember. 😉
**Please note: I am not a medical professional. I am writing about the things that have helped me through the course of my pregnancy thus far and may not work for everyone. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, depression, pains, or anything else that concerns you, be sure to talk to a medical professional.