Just some fall family fun up in the canyon with the children trying to attack me. I’m showing some pictures of my family with this post for context, and so you can see proof of my occasional mental stability as you read about how nuts I am.
Always always daddy’s girl.
But this boy is mine. So really baby #3 is up for grabs.
*NOTE In this post you will find mental and emotional tips, or mind hacks–if you will–for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as the general discomfort of being pregnant. I’m not a doctor; I’m just a crazy lady sharing what I’m doing to help myself. This is not about: essential oils, supplements, diet, super foods—those are all great. But they are not my expertise and this is not what this post is about! There are other far more qualified people to talk of such things. If you’re hoping for that, you will be sorely disappointed.
I wrote this at 21 weeks, started getting super anxious and depressed, regrouped, edited and added to it at 31 weeks and I am currently almost 33 weeks pregnant.
As for prescription anti-depression and anxiety medication, I tried those with my 2nd pregnancy, and 100% support people in their decisions they make with their medical professionals. For this pregnancy I have gone without them, as I wasn’t taking them before I got pregnant and also because trying to find the right dose, and going on and off them during my 2nd pregnancy seemed to be more harmful than helpful.
I am sitting pretty, and by pretty I mean preeeetty fat, in week 31 of my third pregnancy. Close friends and family members were all, well, shocked, when I expressed that I was thinking about having baby #3. I was actually fairly shocked myself. Haha, but I knew in my heart it was the right thing for our family. And so, I decided to take the plunge.
But if you know me, have ever talked to me, or read some of the articles I’ve posted about motherhood, you know I have a rough time with pregnancy. And that might be the understatement of the century.
Perhaps one of the toughest things about having a hard pregnancy is that you feel like a horrible, awful, no-good jerk for saying anything about it. Like the lowest of low, the most ungrateful of ungrateful. I felt like I basically wasn’t allowed to express my struggles publicly, because there are so many people who would HAPPILY take my place in order to have a baby of their own. And I felt I was being insensitive and again, unthankful by saying anything.
But as I have cautiously started to share my feelings, always trying my hardest to be mindful and respectful of those who are suffering with the exact opposite problem—getting or staying pregnant—SO many woman have thanked me, because they have similar struggles, and also have felt horrible and alone for having those hard feelings.
I’ve even had multiple women who have used IVF to help them get pregnant, tell me that they TOO are struggling with depression, sickness and other tough stuff while pregnant, and they feel like a MILLION times worse saying anything negative, because they don’t want to seem ungrateful—and it was SUCH a struggle to get pregnant in the first place so they don’t feel allowed.
I mentioned in my birth announcement post, that I’ve had to accept that feelings are feelings and I can’t beat myself up for having them, because it’s actually caused me a lot of harm and kept me from getting help when I needed it.
I worried I was being a baby, that I just needed to “suck it up” and stop being so dramatic. I thought everyone around me secretly thought I was making it all up, or that maybe I wanted attention, and that I should just try harder to feel better.
And honestly? Some people DO think that. Some women feel NOTHING like I do when pregnant, and it’s hard not to think it’s just a lot of drama. Some friends have admitted that until a 2nd or 3rd pregnancy that was tougher for them, they kind of DID think other women were being melodramatic, or that if those other women did what they did—a certain diet or exercise plan—that those other women could “fix” it.
You’re free to think what you want. But I know mental struggles and emotional problems are very real. And I know that discounting them doesn’t help.
Basically, my mental and emotional state got so bad while I was pregnant with baby #2, Rad, that I was having suicidal thoughts and could hardly manage my life. Aside from the usual physical discomfort of being pregnant and gaining 60 pounds (yes I exercised and yes I ATTEMPTED not to gain so much, I just well, did—I think being massively depressed contributed to that), I was also unable to have conversations—with like anyone—without hysterically crying. Which can be really inconvenient!
But I tried day after day to just, make it work. It was awful and taxing on my sweet husband Eric, and even though there were obviously moments of happiness and joy, the depression and anxiety attacks kept me from being able to do most of what I wanted to do and even a lot of what I needed to do.
Boo hoo. Hahahahaha. Whenever I mention having rough pregnancies people want to hear like, that I get hospitalized for throwing up too much, or some other severe something. Sorry to disappoint. I just wanted to, literally, die. And not like in the “I’m going die I feel so terrible!” way, but in the, “I maybe should step in front of this car…” kind of way.
I have gotten a 3rd trimester condition with both Ginger and Rad called Cholestasis (I may or may not get it this time—the symptoms are starting but I’m being optimistic?) that causes my hands and feet to itch uncontrollably (under the skin) due to some enzyme build-up, and they have to deliver my babies early (Ginger at 36 weeks, Rad at 37), and it keeps you awake for days like a crazy person because you can’t really stop the itching. On and on.
When I tell people this they seem to be more OK with me having a rough time. Like, “Oh THAT makes sense.” But honestly? The Cholestasis IS bad, and I’m sure it contributes the anxiety, but it’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING compared to the day-to-day hormones and FEELINGS.
SO! Now that we’ve established that: 1. Alison is crazy 2. I don’t like being pregnant but 3. I’m SUPER grateful that I have the ability! And that I thank God sincerely; at least twice a day for the baby in my tummy…let’s talk about how pregnancy #3 is going, shall we?
It is going so, so much better than #2 or #1. And that’s not to say I haven’t had my rough times, or that it’s not a weekly/daily and sometimes hourly struggle. But COMPARED to how I felt last time, I’m really really proud of myself because it has been a lot of hard work to feel just “ok.” And I know that even though there are some tough times ahead, and I may or may not be crying right now…that I’m still going to be ok.
And one reason I’m going to be ok is because I sincerely hope that sharing my experience, can maybe help at least one person. Because then it has more meaning to me. Well that and I get a human out of it. HAHAHA. So I’ve been taking notes this whole pregnancy. Writing down things I can do, or things that have been working to help me cope.
So FINALLY I give you:
Alison’s Tips for Managing a Rough Pregnancy
1. GET A SUPPORT TEAM
If this is your first pregnancy, and you’re like, “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME!!!?” Hi. Welcome. It’s ok. You are not alone. And you need to get some people on your team. It’s never too late to form a team!
This was easier for me to do after two pregnancies, because I could really JUSTIFY it. I sincerely hope you’re better than me, and don’t feel the need to wait until you are suicidal or unable to function to get help. Any pregnant person, or HUMAN, needs a support team. Here are some of the people on my team:
A PARTNER WHO GETS IT:
If you don’t have a spouse or partner in your pregnancy I admire the hell out of you. You are so strong and amazing. BUT you do need someone. A friend, a sibling, a parent, someone you find online! Now, when you do find that person, it doesn’t mean they are going to magically “GET IT.” Or understand just how to help you. You are going to need to try to help them learn how to help you. This can be hard. This is why going to a counselor can be important (either by yourself or with your partner). Because it’s hard to know what you need when you can hardly function.
I realized I used to feel resentful towards Eric for not knowing how to “handle” my breakdowns or that he didn’t GET I needed professional help. I thought he should have forced me to get it earlier, because I wasn’t in a state to do it myself. But he’s only one man! He was, and IS doing the best he can. So we have worked hard together, and I have had to TELL him what I think he can do to help. He’s not a wizard. He doesn’t know everything. BUT, as we talk about it and I try to express what things are helpful and what things are not, he is better able to give me what I need. You have to tell people if you WANT them to talk to you when you’re crying, or want them to ignore it. They can’t just always guess. And you have to look past what you want to want (which is my case is no help), to discover what you really need.
I’d also say that my mom and little sister Andrea fit this “partner” description. My mom finally stepped in last year and encouraged me to get counseling. But see, it took 3 people to fill this one roll. I’m very very lucky to have people, but I’ve also had to work to get to a place where I allow people to help me.
Once you have a partner—someone who gets it—I recommend some allies. Here are some of my allies:
A CLEANING LADY:
Ana is a magical human full of love and mystical powers like cleaning the floors and toilets. A messy house is a depressing house. My guess is the #1 factor for people NOT getting a cleaning lady is saying they cannot afford it. Eric lost his job, and we lost our insurance WHILE I was pregnant with Rad, so yeah, I get not having money. We had NO MONEY PEOPLE. We both work for ourselves and still have NO steady income. And here’s how I feel about that: money comes and goes. It’s good to save and work hard. Sometimes we just don’t have enough money! But NOTHING and I mean nothing is more important than your mental and physical health. IF YOU CAN sell something, trade with a friend, get creative. If you need help with cleaning don’t feel stupid, don’t feel like you’re not pulling your weight as a human. Also, it’s not a waste of money to hire people to help you! In fact we hired Ana before we “had enough money” for insurance. We were uninsured with a cleaning lady. And I felt AWESOME about it. (We have insurance now, calm down.)
But I’m saying give someone an opportunity to help you. When my empire makes millions I’m going to have cleaning ladies surprise pregnant woman around the world! For now I just sometimes send Ana to a friend.
I stopped seeing my counselor regularly around 21 weeks (right when I wrote the bulk of this). After I wrote it I started breaking down, and down, and down and finally started making regular appointments again. Which is why at 31+ weeks, I can now publish this! And I’m back in working order. I did not see a counselor with Rad and I SHOULD HAVE. Oh my gosh I should have.
But having a counselor you know you CAN call, or COULD call is almost just as helpful. I don’t think you should rely entirely on your doctor or midwife. It’s really tough to try to find someone when you’re in a really dark place. So if you can, force yourself to find a counselor before you get there.
Just yesterday I had an appointment that I thought, “I don’t need to go! I’m fine.” And I still felt SO much better after. Counseling is also a preventative measure. Think of it like that and it makes it easier to stay up on it!
This is helpful of course if you have other children while pregnant. HAHA. I know SO many women who work out of their home, have one or two kids, a husband who works a lot, and they still don’t find childcare. So every waking minute of free time is time spent working or caring for other people. WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES? I felt SO much guilt about having a babysitter come two afternoons so I could work more, or just be depressed less. Like I was living my life wrong. Up until I found a babysitter only their grandparents and aunt babysat them (the other two days of the week)—it was and is a huge blessing, but I needed to work more and I needed more help.
This year, and this pregnancy I’ve had to rely on the help of some great nannies and other babysitters. I found care.com to be super helpful, because it can be really hard to find people sometimes. I signed up for one month, posted an ad, found some people and then canceled. I also found one babysitter by hitting on her when she was our waitress. I full on asked for her number.
$$ A NOTE ON MONEY HONEY $$
As I’ve thought about it a lot, I think one reason I’ve been able to do this pregnancy without medication or as many breakdowns (I still have them, just not as many) is because of how much childcare I’ve allowed myself to have. I get a break almost once a day for a few hours. Sometimes it’s for work and sometimes it’s for driving around and crying and being by myself. The alone time keeps me from having so many anxiety attacks. It’s a luxury to afford childcare, one I’ve worked VERY hard for, but at the same time it’s also something you can find through trade. Play dates are awesome.
Again, I try to be sensitive to everyone’s economic struggles, but I still say MORE TIMES THAN not when people say they can’t “afford” something (when talking to me, because I’m usually talking to people of a roughly similar socio-economic background—people with smart phones and computers) it’s because they are making an effort to afford something else.
As for Eric and I, we live in an inexpensive state/town, drive cheap old paid-for cars, and have an old house with cheap furniture and a low mortgage—we do a lot of this so we can work for ourselves, eat out, and get me lots and lots of help. Hahahaha!
If you simply can’t afford something you can’t afford it. I’m just saying I have A LOT of faith in your resourcefulness, skills, talents, and potential to succeed.
ANYONE ELSE YOU NEED:
Those are just the people I’ve found helpful. But look at places in your life where you feel like you’re drowning and see if you can find a helpy helper. Maybe it’s a laundry service, maybe it’s sometime to help you with work, or maybe you need a personal assistant/friend to make doctor appointments for you because you can’t do it without having a breakdown. What I’m saying is, you’re not stupid for needing help FOR ANYTHING you need help with. Especially when you are pregnant.
2. DO WHAT YOU CAN ABOUT NAUSEA & MOVE ON.
I get really nauseous for the first 14-16 weeks. I am nauseous from sun-up to sundown. I don’t throw up, I just dry-heave and pray that I WILL throw up, but I never do. Honestly, it’s terrible. Throwing up seems like it would bring relief, but also throwing up is HORRIBLE. So I’m not wishing for anything else. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about a bunch of herbs, supplements, essential oils or super foods. I am not an expert on those. I’m just sharing my experience and I’m so happy if they help you!
I tried a few vitamins, ginger, and other things, as well as some medications prescribed from midwives. Nothing really made me feel better. And I found just focusing on the nausea all the time and trying to fix it made it worse for me.
BUT you should know that you can call your doctor and ask for anti-nausea drugs BEFORE your 10-week appointment. I didn’t know that the first time. I feel like most of the people who find relief from those (that I have talked to, again I’m just some random girl, not a doctor) seem to be people who can’t stop throwing up. But they did not stop the sick feeling for me personally.
So for baby #3 I didn’t try a bunch of medicines or remedies to STOP the nausea, other than making sure I didn’t have an empty stomach, and trying to eat smaller meals. But what I DID was focus on NOT focusing on the nausea as much as I could.
I feel like constant nausea is like water torture. You know, without the brutality of it. At first you’re like, it’s just a few drops. “I can do this. I can take it!” But after 10 straight weeks of it, it’s like drilling a hole in your head and you just want to cry/die/give up. It’s very hard to be nice or pleasant when you feel sick non-stop.
So I tried to get really real with myself. Instead of thinking, “I WILL FEEL SICK FOREVER!!!” I’d say in my head, “That’s not true Alison. Last night from 9-10pm you did not feel as sick. Hopefully tonight at 9pm you’ll feel better for an hour, and you can get an hour of work done then.” Or something like that.
This sounds fairly depressing, hahaha, only feeling better for one hour, but really, focusing on windows of time that I MIGHT feel better, was a lot more hopeful than thinking, I will never feel better ever again.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.
During my first trimester I politely requested that my friends and family NOT ask me things like, “How are you feeling?” Well I thought I was polite, I might not have been. HA! I TRIED OK!?
Again, this might sound super dramatic. But when anyone would ask me how I was feeling I would start crying. If you follow me online AT ALL, you know I believe in sharing the whole story, even if I don’t really need to or it’s not helpful to. So when people wanted to talk about how I was feeling I just couldn’t lie and say, “fine.”
Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I think a lot of my anxiety from the 2nd pregnancy and periods of this 3rd one came from living in the future. I quite often thought and still think, “I feel horrible now, and I’m being a terrible mom, and doing everything wrong and I AM JUST GOING TO GET WORSE.”
You can see how this thought pattern leads to nothing GOOD. But in the moment, it’s hard to stop it. So my approach this time was to not talk about the things that would trigger that series of thoughts.
And I still don’t really talk about my pregnancy a ton to people, on social media, or anywhere, other than to say, “Yes, I’m still pregnant.” Or, “Look at the pregnant lady dance!” I mean, and also other than this huge post I’m doing right now! HAHA! But I waited so long to do this post, because I knew I needed to be in a safe, good place to be able to share. And it took me, oh 33 weeks to get there!
4. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ABOUT YOU.
The second I found out I was pregnant I made an appointment with my counselor. Well actually the second I found out I was pregnant I cried for about 6 hours straight, even though getting pregnant was intentional. But later I went to see my counselor and I told her the approach I had come up with to deal with my pregnancy. It was this: I was simply going to pretend I wasn’t pregnant. Meaning, of course I would take care of myself, but if I felt sick I would say to myself “I feel sick, hmm that’s odd.” Rather than, “I feel sick because I am pregnant and it’s only going to get harder, and I will get so fat people will make fun of me behind my back, and I don’t deserve to be a mom because I care about that, and I might as well die now.”
She said this was a good start! Haha! But maybe instead I should try focusing on the baby and what the baby was doing, rather than how I was feeling as the holy baby-carrying vessel. (My words…) And I really loved this approach.
If you read ANY pregnancy book, or pregnancy app or anything ever about pregnancy, hahaha, like this post, the majority of it is about THE MOM. And that makes sense, especially with your first baby because you want to understand what is happening in your body. But frankly all that reading about all the hard things, and focusing on them didn’t do me any good. Especially with babies #2 and #3.
So for this pregnancy when I read anything on a pregnancy app, I would skip the parts about me, and what my body could be doing and all that stuff. I just tried to focus on the baby, the baby that I KNOW from experience is worth the pain. The baby that I feel SO honored to be carrying. The baby that I get to snuggle.
I’ve tried to make the pregnancy either about the baby, OR just kind of do my best to be in denial about it. Haha.
5. CHANGE IT UP.
This is mostly applicable if this is not your first pregnancy. So if you’re on baby #1 skip it! But I had so many traumatic experiences (crying uncontrollably) and negative associations having to do with midwife and doctor visits and such with my last two pregnancies, that for baby #3 I decided I needed to rid myself of anything that made my skin crawl or breath start to get short.
For Ginger and Rad I went to a group of Certified Nurse Midwives, I basically saw a different midwife each visit. I think that seeing a group of doctors and midwives is awesome if you are MOST people. But I found with baby #2, that one of the main problems was that my midwives did not see the severity of my condition—my depression and anxiety—because I saw a different CNM each appointment and they had no barometer of what “normal” was for me.
Most of them saw a sobbing, pregnant woman. I’m sure they see lots of those. But it wasn’t until the VERY end that one of them understood that THIS sobbing pregnant woman was in an unsafe place emotionally and physically. I’m grateful someone finally “got it” and got me help, but looking back it would have been nice if someone would have “gotten it” sooner. Then again, this is why I should have also been seeing a counselor. But I just trusted the baby doctors would step in more than they did. And they didn’t.
So for baby #3 I’m seeing a male, family practitioner. Something I would have never done before. The office is different, the vibe is different. He’s a man, not a woman. Haha. I mean I tried to make it as opposite as possible. I see him EACH appointment, and take Eric with me so that when I downplay any symptoms or feelings Eric can step in and say, “No, no, she’s been crying a lot…” or whatever needs to be said! It has made THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE.
So if you had anything negative with your other babies or pregnancies, just remember you CAN switch it up—a different hospital or birth center, a different doctor, anything different you need. Different clothes even! I think that sometimes those associations can be causing a lot of stress and anxiety we aren’t realizing.
6. SLIP INTO SOMETHING COMFORTABLE / BUT NOT TOO COMFORTABLE
So this is my piece of advice to EVERY first time pregnant lady: buy maternity clothes. BUY THEM NOW. I think people get like an odd sense of accomplishment from not “needing” or buying maternity clothing. It IS easy to think it’s a waste of money. BUT when you feel sick or depressed, why add a waistband that is making you miserable to your list of things to moan about?
I bought 2 pairs of maternity pants fairly early on this time and I can still wear them. So it was a good investment. Getting up and having things to put on that don’t make you miserable, or make you feel “fat” because they USED to fit you (before you started growing a human…) really does a lot for your mental health. Trust me. Also you should get some bigger comfier bras and undergarments, because those things being too small can make you CRAZY too. Do everything you can to overcome small annoyances!
Also I’ve tried to do my makeup most days. I use this tutorial I made with Kayti for an amped-up makeup look. It’s more makeup than I wear when I’m not pregnant, but the ACT of getting ready, and dolling myself up, helps me feel better. Especially as my face gets rounds and rounder.
I’ve had to buy more maternity clothes this pregnancy because I’m bigger this time so I need things that cover my belly more. And also because of my job, which requires a lot of videos, and pictures of myself, and all that nonsense. But man, it has really made a difference in how I feel. I also cleared my closet of all the things I do not, and will not fit into for a while after having the baby. They are in a storage bin. It’s really nice NOT to sort through clothing every morning that I can’t wear. It’s out of sight and out of mind. And as I get bigger I just keep adding to the bin and I more drawer space for things that fit.
I have bought the majority of my pregnancy clothing from Asos! I also get some from Target, both maternity, and non-maternity sections, and even their plus-size section can be a good option.
7. STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF
I have gained a ton of weight with each pregnancy, and I have always lost all of it. (Sure sure, I put some back on too, but that’s not the point). I don’t lose my weight quickly, it’s not easy, and it doesn’t magically happen from nursing. I lost those 50-60 lbs by eating healthier and exercising more. It was hard, and took a ton of work. But I’ve run marathons; I’ve thrown parties for 600 women. I can do hard things. I tell myself this as often as I can! Ha.
With each pregnancy I felt SO out of control and sloppy (that’s the best way I can describe it?!) for gaining so much, and I exercised and hated myself, and I would weigh myself every damn day. At doctor’s appointments they would have to take my blood pressure AFTER they weighed me because I was always SO stressed about stepping on the scale.
But you know what? Weighing myself (and knowing EXACTLY how much weight I gained every day) was NOT stopping me from eating the treat, and it did not change my habits or make me gain less weight. It just made me angrier and depressed and that made me want to eat more and give up on trying.
Is it great to gain so much weight? Of course not! But I can truly say that I’m doing the best I CAN, and for me, that includes worrying less about the weight I’m gaining and more about the mom I want to be, the boss lady I want to be, and NOT getting so depressed and anxious I can’t live my life. I wish I could do it all! I exercise, and I try to make good choices, but I also eat donuts and Taco Bell. So I’m totally not going to be super thin. Haha. And FOR NOW, that’s ok.
I’m not trying to make excuses, or say that fast food is good! It’s not! I’m just saying I’ve had to let some things go, and know that once I have these other things under control, I can move on to being a hard body. But for now I’m a fluffy little work in progress.
Wouldn’t it be cool if I said that when I stopped weighing myself I gained less weight? HA No. No that didn’t happen. But it would be awesome if it did!
However when I stopped weighing myself I stopped thinking about how fat I was, and just started dancing more.
One more thought on weight gain: I wrote in this “I’m not fat I’m pregnant” post, that I was going to refuse to apologize for looking or being pregnant.
I was thinner and younger to start with for my other two pregnancies, and I had WAY less people looking at pictures of me online, and yet, I’ve posted WAY more pictures of myself this pregnancy. Is it because I’m more narcissistic? No. No. That’s not it. Most likely.
I’ve posted absurd dance videos and “bump shots” –things I never did with my other two. I even threw a party where 600 women could come and see how squishy I was getting–instead of hiding away. And here’s why: I don’t LOOK any better (in fact I look bigger) but I FEEL better about the fact that I GET BIG WHEN I’M PREGNANT. And I kind of feel like everyone else just needs to deal with it. I care. Obviously I care. But I just care about other things more.
My stomach is big, like BIG, and my boobs? My boobs ARE BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD. Really. They are. If you see me in person you can come rest your noggin on my bosom to compare. I gain weight everywhere and I’m soft and plushy and dimply.
And guess what? When I give birth I’m still going to look pregnant. For a WHILE. And it will make me sad, and I will be embarrassed and I will probably cry about it. My clothes won’t fit and I will think people online and people I know are judging me and thinking about how I used to be thinner and more attractive. I will cry to my (thinner) sister and my husband and then I will GET OVER IT. Because other things are more important than the size of my thighs.
I will try to remember that it just doesn’t matter. It really, really, doesn’t matter. Because I have other goals, and other priorities, and other ways to find value in myself as a person and as a mother. And there are so many harder, and more devastating trials in this world (like not being able to GET pregnant) that are way worse than NOT BEING A SIZE 2. Or even a 4, or a 6, or sigh an 8 anymore.
And then I will start working out more, eating healthier, and doing the best I can to get back to a nice, healthy, super-hot & curvy Alison. I also highly recommend these work-out videos for post-baby.
And if I STILL can’t lose the weight, I’m fairly sure I could manage some sort of social media trade for liposuction. HAHAHAHA Kidding. OR AM I?
8. FILL YOUR WELL
I’m almost done, I promise. But I couldn’t write this post without mentioning this, because it has been a HUGE help to me during this pregnancy. Part 3 of my “How to be Be Awesome” series is called, “Don’t Poison Your Well.”
I recommend watching it, but part of what I talk about in that is filling your well, and by “well” I mean your mind and yourself, with good clean water—or good positive thoughts. One way I do that is with prayer and scripture study. When I’m pregnant I do that A LOT MORE than I usually do. And it makes a huge difference–in my temperament, in my life. But if you’re NOT into that, one other way I do that is by listening to podcasts.
These two podcast episodes made a HUGE difference for me at two really, really, low points. So I wanted to share them:
I listened to this the day I got my positive pregnancy test. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t process my feelings. I couldn’t pull it together. I wanted to be happy and grateful but I just couldn’t find those emotions ANYWHERE. I was driving around running errands, alone, and planning Rad’s Mickey Mouse Party. Listening to this episode helped me identify that the #1 feeling I had at that moment was fear. It seems obvious now, but I didn’t get that in the moment. This episode talks a lot about fear, and overcoming fear, so this was really, really meaningful and helpful in that dark time. Once I identified it was fear strangling out all other emotions, I felt I was better able to cope and come up with a strategy for managing with the fear. AND I was able to start to make room for better emotions like happiness and joy for the blessing in my belly.
I also listened to this early on when I was still struggling so much with nausea, and trying to plan a very large dance party. This is like the most mind-blowing episode, and it talks about the benefits of gaming—even little games on your phone like Tetris or Candy Crush. One thing this podcast (and the research presented) helped me do was identify behaviors I adopt while playing a game—like Candy Crush—and how I can use those behaviors and traits to help me in my real life. For example, I am INSANELY patient when I play Candy Crush. I play for 10-15 minutes every night before I go to bed. And even though some levels will take me a month, I just plug along every day, because I know eventually I will pass that level. I am NOT patient at all in “real” life. But identifying that patience and persistence that I adopt when “gaming” has helped me see that I am capable of it when it comes to this pregnancy. There are some other good thoughts and ideas in there too, so just listen to it, ok?! It’s also how I started calling myself a, “Pink pregnant princess” as my alter ego that could handle stress. HAHA. Like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce. Listen and you’ll get it!
9. HAVE THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO / GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
I filmed my Party With Alison course during my first trimester, threw Alison’s Cabana Boogie in my 2nd, and planned a VERY easy, inexpensive trip with my husband (we leave this week!) in my 3rd trimester (plus I might have one other thing I’m going to do, hahaha) all because I needed things to distract me and look forward to.
I had to be careful not to commit to things that added TOO MUCH stress, and I certainly wasn’t perfect at it. But in addition to having things to look forward too, I’ve tried really hard to let myself off the hook for getting less done. I try to be more relaxed about “hanging out” (I don’t generally like to hang out, I like to work), and I have tried to be better about calling loved ones for chats, and watching TV instead of “being productive.” I still get a good amount of things done because that makes me happy, but at the same time it’s really so much less than I would normally do.
Also, I have to let myself off the hook for not being as helpful as I would like. I’ve volunteered for less, and committed to less things. I’ve missed parties and gatherings because I needed to be real with myself and admit I wasn’t in a good enough emotional place to attend them. Each time I do this have to remember that my family comes first—including the baby I’m trying to grow. Have people been disappointed with me? I’m sure they have been. But it’s better than having suicidal thoughts. So THERE’S THAT!
10. DANCE YOU FOOL
It can get a tad exhausting having people think I’m like a non-stop party machine. Especially when I feel like I’ve made it SO clear that I’m not by sharing posts like this (in which I share my struggles) for the past 6+ years. HAHA. But If I’m not smiling goofy in a picture, or I’m sharing a serious thought, people can tend to want to put me back in a “silly” box. It makes the teenager in me want to pout, and I think, does everyone just think I’m a joke?
But then I remember this: you don’t have to take me seriously to be positively impacted by me.
And that’s what I care about more. I care about uplifting people, I care about creating connections and I care about brightening someone’s day.
And so even if one minute I’m crying in a puddle on the floor, if the next minute a REALLY good song comes on, I’ll allow myself to dance IF I CAN. Because I’ve learned I don’t HAVE to be the silly dancy girl OR the anxious, depressed girl all the time, I just get to be Alison. And being me includes both.
I share this because you might be able to relate. You might be the type of person who can usually handle everything, and you’re in shock that you’re having a hard time. People maybe don’t SEE you as the person who has a hard time, and that can be so frustrating!
But I think that a rough pregnancy, and life, is a lot of that yin and yang. And remembering there are many parts of yourself, and allowing yourself to BE them, is just part of becoming even more awesome.
Just because there are hard moments, or you’re struggling, or you are FILLED with anxiety and terror, it doesn’t mean you’re not YOU anymore. It doesn’t mean you don’t get to dance. So I try to remember in the really really dark hours that I will dance again! I’m still me! And it’s ok to let the happy in with the sad, OR the sad in with the happy. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
BUT I also know what it’s like to not be able to “dance” or find the light or the good no matter how hard you try. And I’d just like to point out again, that those are your hormones, or chemicals in your brain, and pregnancy can induce them and cause them to be way out of whack. Or maybe it’s something else! But I assure you it’s MORE than you not being able to suck it up. If it’s real to you, it’s real enough to get help.
You’re not weak, you’re not stupid and you’re not alone. And if you can’t find any joy, and you’re having harmful thoughts, that’s when you need to get some help. So promise me, if you can’t find your thrust (or even the tiniest little hip pop), that you’ll reach out to someone, ok? Reach out and get the help you need.
I could go on but this is already the longest post in the history of all posts!
But I wanted it all in one place for you. I wanted it easy to access and easy to read JUST in case you find it helpful, or know someone who could find it helpful.
And I want to conclude with this: I am so so so grateful for the opportunity to carry my babies. I am humbled and in awe of what my body can do, even though at least once a day I say to Eric, “I can’t do this.” Because, uuuugh I can. I can do.
I wouldn’t trade my experiences or what I’ve learned from these pregnancies for anything else.
I share this quote all the time, and it’s not going to stop me from sharing it again, because it is my favorite:
“There are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for them to come to be.” – Leon Bloy
I am grateful for the way my heart has expanded by going through these rough pregnancies. I hope it’s making me a better mother, a better wife, a better business lady and a better person. I am also grateful to the many many people supporting me, helping me, and enabling me to get by day by day.
I wish you so so much love. Hang in there.