Something that has really started to bug me is the pressure placed on women to 1) have noticeable abs while pregnant, and 2) gain their "pre-pregnancy body" back as quickly as they can after giving birth. Okay, #1 may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but still--Instagram is full of those (not that I'm saying that's bad either). As for post pregnancy, you're never going to have your pre-pregnancy body back, and that's not a bad thing. You just birthed a tiny human and things have changed. Your hoo-haw looks different, your hips may have shifted or grown, and your breasts may also look different. Plus you may have that mysterious brown line that goes up your stomach and I don't know at what point that completely fades away, if at all. I'm nearly five months postpartum and mine is still there. If anything, pregnancy and birth have taught me to love my body and see it for the incredible machine it is. Not only did I make and grow a tiny human inside me, I then birthed it into this crazy world and even crazier year. So, I just wanted to remind any woman out there feeling concerned about her body image that, you are a superhero.
It's really difficult to comprehend just what labor & delivery is like until you actually go through it. Not even birthing class prepared me for what I experienced--at least not entirely. It's definitely important and worth it to take a birthing class when you're pregnant, but birthing class can only provide you a very basic foundation for what to look out for and not what to expect. Even early labor signs aren't necessarily an indicator of imminent delivery. So, I thought I'd share unexpected things I learned about labor & delivery through my traumatic experience, because yes, it was traumatic. It wasn't until 4 weeks post-partum did I start to un- clench my legs when in the shower.
There's a lot of things about pregnancy no one ever talks about, or you're just not aware of until you're pregnant and you start receiving daily emails updating you on what you might be experiencing. So, throughout my pregnancy I recorded things that I learned and found interesting along the way. Here are 20 of them.
This year on Women's Day, I want to highlight something that women have experienced since the beginning of time, but no one ever talks about: postpartum healing. Thankfully we live in an age of information and now I can google anything I want to know about it. It's also encouraging that more and more women are sharing this information, but it's still not something commonly talked about until you're a pregnant woman learning about everything prenatal, labor, and postpartum. And let me tell you, nothing about pregnancy or childcare scared me (at least nothing out of the ordinary), but when I first read about what really happens during postpartum healing, I was suddenly terrified. And I'm telling you, sex ed would be way more effective if we taught students about post-partum healing, and showed them an actual birthing video.
If my 20's taught me anything, it's that life rarely ever goes as planned or envisioned, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Over the holidays, my husband and I moved in with my parents as we prepare to bring our son into the world, and it's certainly not how I ever envisioned growing my family. However, when we found out we were pregnant, we had a lot of discussions about a lot of things, and eventually moving in with my parents made the most sense, not only financially, but also because of the strong support I will have, not just from my parents but friends in the area. I certainly had my reservations and discussed my concerns with friends and my therapist, and the number one thing everyone told me was to set boundaries. Boundaries, in general, are important in every relationship, but how does one set boundaries in a family that knows no boundaries? Asian families, or at least my Asian family, don't have boundaries!
When Meghan Markle was pregnant, people gave her a lot of flak for touching her stomach so much. I couldn't figure out at the time if she was holding her stomach more than other pregnant women do, or if they were just picking on her. I mean, the latter definitely, but maybe also the former? Regardless, I now finally understand why she and any other pregnant woman might touch their stomach so much.
For most people, pregnancy is an exciting time. I always thought it would be an exciting time for me, and being a mother is something I have always wanted. But excitement was not my first reaction, and took me getting half way through the pregnancy before I truly felt excited. So, I wanted to share some of my first thoughts, because I know I'm not alone, and I know some women may not feel excited at all during pregnancy. Some may not even feel particularly excited once the baby is born. But that doesn't necessarily mean they love their kid any less or that they're not as good a parent as someone who can't seem to contain their excitement. We have this bad habit as a society to hold certain expectations around pregnancy, especially of women, and shame and guilt them if they fall short of those expectations, which is really unfair. Hopefully, sharing some of my thoughts can help us be more empathetic towards all women going through pregnancy. And hopefully there are also some funny insights.