You Can Hate Being Pregnant & Still Love Being a Mom -- I'm Living Proof

mom snuggling daughter
Sarah Hudson Photography

"Mama, were you SO happy when I was in your tummy?" My daughter curls up on my lap, resting her head on my chest. She's always loved to hear stories about when she was a baby but she's never asked for a story about when I was pregnant with her. I know she wants to hear a story about how I was happy, that I couldn't wait to meet her, that I loved having her in my tummy.


But as much as I wish that was true, a happy pregnancy story isn't one I can tell. 

I've always wanted to be a mom. When I met my husband, I knew I had met the person I wanted to have babies with. I started noticing pregnant women everywhere, and I thought all of them were beautiful. I couldn't wait to have a bump of my own, to feel the magic of a baby kicking. We decided that we were ready to try and I had visions of prenatal yoga classes and midnight cravings for ice cream -- I was going to love being pregnant.

Months and months passed and it started to become clear that getting pregnant wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. When I finally had a positive test, I didn't feel the elation I thought I would. I mostly felt relief and a sense of cautious optimism. I was pregnant but I was also anxious. After all these months, would this pregnancy stick?

The next day I started spotting.

After a day in the emergency room and several follow-up blood tests, it was determined that the spotting wasn't a sign of a miscarriage. It looked like this pregnancy was really happening. I waited to feel elated, but I just felt nervous. And nauseated. I started throwing up every morning. And every mid-morning. And every lunch hour and usually during the afternoon. I didn't stop throwing up for the next 20 weeks.

During the course of my pregnancy, I would deal with many discomforts in addition to the vomiting. (I ended up weighing less at the end of my pregnancy than at the beginning.) I had pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, killer heartburn, sciatic nerve pain that made me hobble, gas pains that brought me to howling tears, and a cracked rib from coughing too hard while I had a severe upper respiratory virus that my pregnant immune system couldn't fight off.

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At one point, I had to pull my car over to the side of the road to throw up and had vomited so hard that I peed my pants. I called my husband and sobbed, telling him I didn't think I could do this, that maybe having a baby had been a mistake. I swore I would never do this again.

I was miserable. I wasn't the happy glowing pregnant woman I'd always thought I would be. I should have been thrilled to finally be pregnant and instead I was hating every minute of it. I felt sad, but also terribly guilty.

What kind of mother would I be if I hated being pregnant this much?

Hating being pregnant was my secret shame. Everyone was so happy for us, especially the folks that knew we had been trying for so long. Sure, I had morning sickness and heartburn, but obviously I must have been thrilled. So, I tried to fake it and said all the right things. I showed up for my baby shower and cooed over all the cute clothes. I carefully picked out car seats and cribs. But I wouldn't let anyone take any pictures of me, and every night, I went to bed feeling relieved that I had one less day of being pregnant to deal with. I tried not to worry about whether or not I would love this baby. Deep in the midst of this pregnancy, it seemed possible that maybe I wouldn't love her at all. 

"Mama, tell me a story about when I was in your tummy." My daughter wraps her arms around me and squeezes. Her hair smells like sunshine and I think my heart might burst.

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In due course, I went into labor and was so happy to have the end in sight. But this pregnancy was hard from start to finish. My labor ended up being complicated and I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage that made me think I might die. When I finally saw my daughter, I wasn't filled with a rush of love. I was mostly just relieved to be done being pregnant. That feeling of relief instead of love made me feel ashamed. Here was this gorgeous baby with curly hair and bright eyes and all I wanted to do was go to sleep.

That curly-haired baby is now a bright-eyed 5-year-old. She is my sidekick, my girl, and one of my favorite people on the planet. I love her fiercely. Ours is a story with a happy ending. But, even after five years, I still wish I had a different pregnancy story to tell. I'm still sad that I hated pregnancy so much. But I've come to realize that how you experience the journey of being pregnant doesn't necessarily set the stage for how you'll experience being a mom. I hate being pregnant, but I love being a mom.

Someday maybe I'll tell my girl how hard it was to bring her into the world. When she asks why she doesn't have a little brother or sister, I might tell her that it's because I don't want to ever be pregnant again. But for now I'll just tell her part of the truth -- that she grew right under my heart, that having her changed my whole life, that I would do it all over again if I had to, just to be her mom. 

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