I don’t know about you, but pregnancy has hardly ever had a positive connotation to me. I mean, of course it’s wonderful because the end result is new human life, but the trip to get there is often notorious for being nothing short of an infernal doom of pain, sacrifice, discomfort and misery.
At least that had been my attitude about it my first two pregnancies and talking to other preggo peers, it seemed to be the general consensus. Nausea, vomiting, moodiness, pain, gas, bloating, emotional breakdowns, swelling, breakouts, and constipation hardly seemed to be the formula for a cheery wife and mother.
The thing that really got me the most was the hormonal moodiness so often accompanied with pregnancy. I mean, sure, I can’t control the discomfort of a tiny human limiting my lung capacity or jumping on my bladder. But to feel like I’m robbed of even being able to have any reins on my own feelings because pregnancy hormones have savagely ruled my universe, seemed unfair. As I have understood it, my entire reality as a female is placed on my feelings. To have zero control of the roller coaster of emotions to me seemed like “feeling happy” was simply out of my jurisdiction during pregnancy.
I was preparing for this pregnancy and bracing myself for the pregnant monster, while simultaneously coming to that unanimous agreement in the internal counsel of decision makers in my brain that happiness was just not in the cards while pregnant. Suddenly, a little voice out of nowhere in my mind stepped up and meekly but boldly said “Wait, wait just one minute, there is no way happiness can totally be robbed from you. Happiness is something you can own and have no matter what!”
The serious decision-making counsel in my brain rumbled in indiscernible conversation amongst themselves considering what had been spoken and finally the judge pounded her gavel and proclaimed, “There HAS to be a way to be happy during pregnancy and I WILL FIND IT!!!”
Pardon my imagination, but I hope you get the point.
At that moment I began a quest to find joy, peace and happiness in a place I generally thought I had little say or control- PREGNANCY.
It has been an AWESOME experience seeking bliss in bloating (if you will). I’ve honestly learned a lot and I’m excited to share!
I talk specifically about trying this while pregnant but hopefully you and I can remember to apply these same ideas whether or not you are expecting. Note to self: remember this when I am struggling!!
Do everything in your power to clear out your life to the basics.
First thing I did when we were trying to conceive was to weed out my life. Much of my struggle in life has been trying to take on too much. I have constantly fooled myself into thinking I NEEDED to do so many things and then felt like I was drowning in responsibility and obligations…that I had either created in my mind or signed up for myself! (See my obsession with getting things done post)
It is empowering to realize how much say we have over how much we take on. I have the power to say “yes, no, or at a later time.” It is humbling to know when I can wisely say “no” because, seriously, I am ONE HUMAN BEING with limited capacities and more importantly because: my energy, time and attention can be spent more wisely and in more worthwhile ways such as keeping my personal peace and sharing that with those closest to me.
I had learned my lesson during my last pregnancies that my bandwidth is simply limited while growing a human and any extra stress (on top of two demanding little children) makes me totally emotionally unstable. An emotionally unstable pregnant lady does not make a patient or happy wife or mother.
So one of the first things I did was let go of my biggest client and declined several work offers. I cleared my plate of unrealistic expectation…actually I just have learned to take each day as it comes with little or no expectations…it has worked wonders and I find myself gladly doing good things for myself and others with little or no pressure. Oh it’s wonderful.
Give yourself a chance to thrive: Finding true self reliance
I’m starting to understand what true self reliance means and I’m not talking about just financially (though it applies). If I am doing what I can to stay emotionally, physically and spiritually filled, then I can be in the best personal position to GIVE and fill others. Letting myself get deprived in any of those areas actually causes me to act more selfishly in those respects without even realizing it because functioning on depletion motivates me to act resentfully, grudgingly and TAKE instead of GIVE.
I am learning no one can actually give me most of what I REALLY NEED. No one can get enough sleep FOR me, eat right FOR me, seek spiritual things FOR ME, manage my emotions in a healthy way FOR ME. Those are personal choices I must make every moment to stay balanced and happy, and I cannot blame or make anyone responsible to take care of ‘my needs’ (uh, HUGE light bulb discovery on how to be happy in marriage for me.). Then a magical thing happens: when I am constantly filling up (recharging myself, taking time to be filled, rejuvenate and realign) I can give freely to others and then I am more OPEN to receive more from heaven and from others. I heard a yoga instructor say, “It takes as much humility to receive as it does to give.”
And it has stuck with me since because it is so true! If I want to truly ‘receive’ from what others can give me and feel filled, I must be in an open and humble position to accept and receive. Similarly, to truly give of myself takes just as much humility. It essentially creates a flow, a free exchange of receiving and giving between me, heaven and others. I allow myself to fill up spiritually, emotionally and physically so I can give to others. In turn, heaven and others bless me with renewed spiritual, physical and emotional energy that I can continue to give. It is a perpetuating cycle that expands!! IT is awesome.
During my last pregnancy, I found myself insanely needy (my poor husband had no clue what to do with me anymore!!). I was constantly emotionally, physically, mentally exhausted because I focused so much on ‘expectations’ of what I needed to be doing (whether false or real). That meant I gave little thought to what I actually needed to thrive. I bull dozed my way through life without sincerely listening to myself and those around me. Being in tune with myself by living a conscious and calm life has guided me in understanding how to nourish myself physically and how to emotionally let go of negative feelings. I have also been able to feel free to give to others instead of feeling so burdened by having to do so much for everyone else (because I was drowning so bad!). It has been a freeing and healing experience.
Less is more
We live in a society where things move at such a fast pace, where we feel the more we hurry and do and spend and get is the more we’ll get out of life. It becomes easy to miss life’s real purposes. It may even seem totally counter-intuitive to do less to get more out of life.
During pregnancy, there were many days spent nauseously staring off into space and I was unable to physically do much. It would have been easy to write myself off as a worthless lump and spin off into an oblivion of frustration or depression. I can honestly say that those still moments of quiet discomfort have been some of the sweetest. Because in that stillness I was totally able to be present in that moment, soaking in my sweet little ones or deep pondering thoughts.
If I had focused on what I ‘should be doing’ or all the ways I was uncomfortable, it would have been difficult to experience this. Even though I did less, I feel like I experienced more deep and connecting moments. Because I allowed my soul to experience serenity and nourishment by doing this, I was eventually filled with more energy and motivation that I otherwise would not have had. I eventually did ‘get things done’ but in a calm and focused way.
Focus on the timeless things-
Many things in life are mundane, trivial and of little value. The sad part is that we often put a lot of time, stress and attention to those things that are in the end fleeting and ultimately unfulfilling (watch this video).
Focusing on a relationship with God, others and yourself as seemingly intangible as they seem, in the end is the substance of eternity, and goes beyond this mortal realm. Relationships are more valuable than any worldly thing, possession, status or achievement. Focusing on the priceless brings things into real perspective and helps everything fall into its proper place. It brings peace and calm in an otherwise turbulent situation.
As I am better learning this principle during a sensitive time like pregnancy, it has been helpful in dropping unnecessary things to gear up my energies in providing my loved ones with the kindness they deserve.
I found this in a small way. Instead of trying to frantically clean up the house before the hubby came home with the little energy I had, I have often chosen to take a break, rest, relax, meditate and realign. So when my husband got home I wouldn’t just explode at him in utter exhaustion, complaint and frustration over my burnt out day(so that is how I can help myself from being a complaining, nagging wife??? Take care of my needs so I don’t have to dump on him?? Eureka). The magic was that most of the time I still got the house as clean as I wanted later that evening without the tension, and hubby would even help!
Dealing with yucky feelings: Because you will have them and it is normal and ok.
Sometimes I still feel yucky no matter what I’m trying to do ‘right’. There are times I don’t feel good about people, or myself, or my situation or sometimes I can’t even figure out what is really bothering me. Negative feelings fluctuate throughout the day, and with added pregnancy hormones or when you are going through a rough time, they can seem totally consuming or intense.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned is to be really aware and objective with my feelings. Often those feelings can be so potent and feel so REAL, urgent, and legit, but I’ve learned not to let them decide for me. When particularly down, gloomy or negative, my immediate impulse is to do or say something mean, complain, or do things to muffle or distract me from them (er…can you say eat or social media??). But all those things only feel good for a little bit, and later I feel even worse.
Here are some tips for dealing with yucky feelings:
- Try to become more aware of what is going on inside of me
- Validate my own feelings
- Consciously make decisions and not let those feelings choose my ‘behavior’ for me
- Let go or let them pass
For instance, even though I feel like telling everyone off, I can consciously choose to be polite. Then I can consciously do things to release that negative feeling in a good way to help me be in a better place (i.e. take time to cool off, process emotions, forgiveness, even take a nap etc). I don’t have to let my negative feelings be in charge of me!!! For more info on managing feelings watch this video/read post.
Turning the power to something higher
I wish I could say that I figured this out on my own and successfully achieved happiness because of very own ability. It isn’t true. The real reason I have come to any wisdom or understanding or ability to be happier has little to do with me. I have learned that being able to enjoy peace and joy in difficult or even easy times has everything to do with allowing a higher power to aid you to it. It has meant relying heavily on the Spirit, the divinity inside each of us. Through that power available within, I have turned this sensitive time of pregnancy that has typically been a time of heightened pain, annoyance, irritation, frustration and emotional distress, to a time of heightened reflection, gratitude, serenity and peace.
It has been amazing and totally beyond my comprehension. I have been faced with many home situations that would have irritated the crazy out of me while pregnant, but somehow, I had the power to choose not to be. It has been during those times that I become aware that I was not alone, that there was a divine power helping me and guiding me. This has led me to realize the importance of refilling spiritually everyday, every moment, especially when I start feeling worked up or out of whack. Praying, reading truths in scriptures or other sources and meditating has been my lifeline during this pregnancy.
It doesn’t mean I didn’t have my really bad moments, but now I better understand what I need to do to turn and realign myself again. It is so GREAT. It has been a life lesson I hope I continue to take with me. I’ll have to remind myself, “Hey if I can figure out how to be happy while pregnant, I can totally find happiness anywhere.” Heh. Tell that to me when I deliver at the end of this summer and have a sleepless newborn screaming at me in my insanely sleep deprived state. That will be my next quest…finding joy as a sleepless zombie with a screaming infant, two other demanding kids…and sore boobs. Yes. That will be the ultimate challenge. Stay tuned.
Ok, I know I’m pregnant, but I just watched this video and it totally made me cry.
It is totally what I wanted to express with this post in an even better way!