An illustration of a woman holding a small child

“Smell these limes!” I shouted across the aisles of the grocery store to my husband. “They smell amazing!” 

He laughed and said, “You’re pregnant.”

“No, I’m not, these limes just smell really good.” 

The next day, I couldn’t eat bacon. It tasted gross to me—putrid and all kinds of foul. My husband assured me that it tasted just fine to him and that he thought I was pregnant. In my mind, I wasn’t pregnant, not a chance. 

Technically, there was a chance. We had just started trying. I braved the sweltering 110 degree, Phoenix heat to walk to the pharmacy and pick up some pregnancy tests. I wanted to have a beer with dinner that night, and I wanted to drink it with peace of mind. 

An hour later, two dark blue lines on a stick were staring me in the face, defying my state of denial. No beer for me. 

That’s how my journey of self-care began. Before I entered motherhood, self-care was not high on my agenda. I associated it vaguely with eye masks and lounging in bathtubs. I had no idea how much hard work and planning true self-care entails, but I was about to find out. 

Before I entered motherhood, self-care was not high on my agenda.

My stunned joy at learning I was pregnant was quickly overwhelmed with a swirl of worry. What if the pregnancy test was a false positive? What if it was a chemical pregnancy? What if it was twins? Those questions and others marched around my mind on repeat. 

Beneath my flurry of anxiety was a sense of responsibility toward my little person. Deep within my body, her soul was unwinding and building its own body, a body that someday would exist outside my own. Yet, for now, her well-being was dependent, in many ways, upon my own well-being. I wasn’t running my own rodeo anymore, and I knew I had some things to work on. 

Her well-being was dependent, in many ways, upon my own well-being.

My baby’s needs are what started my self-care journey. I learned to satisfy even more of my own needs along the way, needs that I never knew I had until I was confronted with them.

I knew I had to take care of my body. If I was healthy, then it gave my little baby a much better chance of being healthy too. Bikram yoga wasn’t going to work any longer because of the heat. Instead, I signed up for some online prenatal yoga classes. The wise instructors changed my perspective on my body.

Sure, I wasn’t going to be able to master showy inversions or lift heavier weights throughout the next nine months. The trade-off was learning how to accept changes in my body. I supported it with appropriate poses as it created a place for my baby to grow. I may not have achieved any feats of athleticism, but I was impressed with the power of my body to support my baby. 

I was impressed with the power of my body to support my baby. 

I also was confronted with my anxiety. I’d used medication for it beforehand, but I wasn’t comfortable using the medication now that I was pregnant. I signed up for therapy, which ended up being an amazing support for me as I navigated motherhood. 

During pregnancy, I realized that birth scared me. How was an entire person supposed to exit my body? Birth looked and sounded painful, and here I was, pregnant. I knew there had to be a way to confront birth in an empowering way. Then, I found classes in my neighborhood which taught me how to readjust my attitude toward birth. When the time finally came, I was able to approach birth in a positive, welcoming way.

Although it was difficult to keep up with self-care throughout my pregnancy, it was worth it. It meant scheduling wellness classes and appointments. It meant getting up early. It was hard work, but I’m grateful to my daughter for showing me how to take care of myself.

What did you learn about yourself through pregnancy? What advice would you give to a woman who is pregnant for the first time?

Image via Sara Silva, Darling Issue No. 20

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