Since telling the internet and everyone else that I’m pregnant, I’m getting asked, “how are you?” a lot more than usual. Sure, here in America “How are you?” is like another way of saying hello. We say it all the time, but we rarely listen for the answer. I’ve tried my best to be honest when I am asked this because this first trimester has been hard. (And hey, after saying “I’m fine,” 500 times, you just get kind of bored.)
I’ve been sick, and honestly, really depressed. It’s hard to admit that under normal circumstances, and saying it while being pregnant feels downright taboo.
We should be grateful. We should think about the people that can’t have babies. We think that saying we feel awful means that we have some sort of ill will towards our unborn child. But the truth is, I am grateful and ecstatic to be expecting a child. AND I am still struggling. In the past week, I’ve been honest about that, and I see how it makes people uncomfortable. I see how quickly they go into, “it will get better.” Or “have you tried….?” Or “but….it’s a baby, a miracle, a blessing, etc.” Yes it is. AND some days are a challenge. I have had trouble practicing yoga, going outside, and showering. And yeah, I’ve had the thought that if this is so hard, how will it be when the baby is here?
And what I keep coming back to is: this is where parenting begins. We have to be able to hold space for the AND. Because I think the best parenting lesson I can give my child is that life is not tied up in a bow. We can’t put things into good or bad, happy or sad categories. In fact, it’s quite limiting. When I moved away to college it was really scary, but it was the best decision I ever made. I remember the day I changed my name to my married name on my driver’s license. I cried for a long time, Not because I had second thoughts about marriage, but I had to grieve my old name. I could list a hundred other great decisions in my life that also was littered with mixed emotions.
In fact our first moment outside of the womb, we all cried. We were covered in blood, goo, and other bodily fluids, and we cried. And that moment was filled with joy AND pain. Safety AND discomfort. Love AND fear. The AND doesn’t discount what came before. It magnifies it. It shows us time and time again, how resilient we humans are. It’s acknowledgment of the vastness and fullness of our life experience. We can’t have one without the other.
So yes, I’m overjoyed and I’m also really depressed, vomiting, and experiencing a hormonally nightmarish range of behavior and moods. Thank you for checking on me.
AND How are you?