The following post was written by Anneliese Lawton, a mid 20’s wife and soon-to-be first time mama. She blogs over at Grown Up Glamour, sharing her life experiences as she attempts to find balance in her grown up life. When she’s not working her desk job, she can be found lounging on a cottage dock, scrambling my feelings across a page, or dragging my husband, dog and now baby-belly on a spontaneous adventure. It is her hope to inspire, empower and help other women find joy and peace within themselves and their lives. You can connect with her more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The day I found out I was pregnant was one of the most shocking, blissful days of my life. My husband and I peered down at a positive pregnancy test filled with joy and hope for our future. It was only a month earlier we had met with my doctor to discuss our family planning strategy. Due to my polycystic ovarian syndrome, my doctor anticipated we would have difficulty conceiving and prepared us for the complications we may encounter. You can only imagine the shock, excitement and panic we felt when we became pregnant on our own in just over a month of trying. For those first few weeks I was what you could call, glowing.
Then our child made itself good and comfortable in my uterus. What felt like a three-month long hangover quickly began. This little baby cradled sweetly in my womb made me feel sicker than that time I had the Swine Flu. Not to mention, my hormones became as wild as they had been since age sixteen. I felt out of control. I felt unattractive. I felt like I was losing myself. And as much as I was thrilled about being pregnant, I felt pretty grouchy.
As my second trimester was approaching, I began to feel more like Annie again. My energy levels peaked, I could finally gobble down some chicken, and even though I still felt squishy rather than sexy, I was learning to embrace my new bod.
And then my world fell apart.
Two days after my twelve week ultrasound I received an urgent phone call from my doctor. I immediately assumed there was something wrong with me. I’m twenty-six, my husband twenty-seven and statistics would show the likelihood of having complications in our pregnancy was low. With my medical history though, it would make perfect sense if something were to be wrong with me. But I was wrong. It wasn’t me.
From weeks 12 through 20 in our pregnancy my husband and I faced a devastating period where we were told our child could have a genetic condition. We ruled out Trisomy conditions, only to find out our baby had fluid in his/her brain and put us at risk of chromosomal microdeletions. We made the difficult decision to proceed with amniocentesis – a procedure that could result in the loss of our baby. We were prepared by doctors for termination and possible pregnancy loss.
We went through months of torturous testing and waiting. All while I, the mum, continued to go through the physical and emotional ups and downs of a typical pregnancy. The battle between managing my human feelings and my mom feelings came with a guilt that was more than I could bear. One minute I would crying about the stretch marks on my ass and the next falling apart over the health of my child. I would hear other pregnant women complain about their “cankles” and their mood swings and feel comforted – and the next minute tell myself I wasn’t entitled to feel any of those feelings because my baby was at risk.
After 8 grueling weeks we were released from high-risk care. Our amniocentesis results came back normal. Our baby’s heart and organs were functioning properly! And although our baby still had a small amount of fluid in the brain, our team of doctors advised us that our baby has an incredibly high chance of being born healthy and living a full and vibrant life.
This heart-wrenching experience taught me more about motherhood than I could have anticipated. It taught me about the guilt that comes with being a mother and the constant worrying that comes with having a child. It taught me that there are things I will be unable to control in my child’s life but my child will always have my endless love. It taught me pregnancy and motherhood require a selfless commitment of mind, body, heart and soul. It taught me that, as much as we are mothers, we are also individuals. We are women with feelings, needs and desires. We are human beings that require love, compassion and kindness. And as we focus on giving all these wonderful things to our children, we sometimes forget to give them to ourselves.
Mamas, today I’m here to tell you, you are beautiful. You have beautiful souls. You have beautiful bodies. You have beautiful hearts. Remember to love yourself, pamper yourself, and treat yourself. Remember you are a powerful force. Remember you can only care for someone else well if you are well cared for.
Mamas, I encourage you to embrace your faults and celebrate your strengths. I encourage you to embrace both the mother in you AND the woman in you. Feel sexy, feel accomplished, feel proud of the sometimes difficult, yet wonderful job you are doing. Your child is a creation from your body, mind, heart and spirit. You owe it to yourself to preserve the beautiful woman you are for the beautiful child you have created.