What I have learned from my pregnancy

At 21 weeks.
At 21 weeks.

I have recently reached the midpoint of my pregnancy, which brought much relief and comfort. It is true that the second trimester is the most enjoyable stage and I am taking full advantage of my increased level of energy and zest for life.


Being pregnant is such a momentous event that it won't leave you untouched. Today, I like to share with you the key lessons that I have learned in the past few months.


1. Pregnancy is a gift

While it is true that every woman has the potential to get pregnant, I learn that it is not something that one should take for granted. Yet, no one truly gives much thought to this fact until infertility rears its ugly head.


One can have the best-laid plans and put in every effort imaginable and there is still no guarantee that you will get the result that you desire. We can only do our part to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant but we have no control over the outcome. This is the first lesson in vulnerability and helplessness in pregnancy. The waiting game is always painful and there is no easy way to get around it.


The gift becomes that much more precious when you least expect it. For a recovering control freak like myself, this is a huge lesson. I need to trust and surrender and when the time is right, God will intervene. And He did.


2. Pregnancy is a crash course in surrender and vulnerability

Harriet Lerner makes the above claim in her wonderful book, The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life and I agree with her wholeheartedly.


There are so many things that could go wrong especially in the early stages of pregnancy and one has little control over it. Worries and anxieties are abound. The only constructive thing that one can do is to take great care of oneself by getting sufficient rest, eating well and exercising. Also, take a leap of faith.


Being of "advanced age", the possibility of having a baby with Down syndrome is real for me. On top of the typical anxieties that come with the territory, every test and investigation stirs up a well of fear and uncertainties. Until the baby is born and certified healthy, we have to deal with uncertainty.


Truly, this is an event that is largely beyond our control and there is no right or wrong way to move through the experience. I learn that the sooner I let go of the fantasy and desire to control the outcome, the better it will be for my sanity. The challenge is to embrace the full experience, good and bad and surrender.


3. Pregnancy is a preview of what parenting is about

The lesson in vulnerability and surrender continues when one becomes a parent. You can practice the best parenting style there is out there and it still doesn't guarantee that your child will turn out the way you envision.


I have seen wonderful parents who work diligently to raise their children the best way they know how with disappointing and painful results. There are so many variables that determine how a person will turn out and the the process is so much more complex than we imagine.


Therefore, I see pregnancy as the starting point for me to embrace the pain and vulnerability that is inherent in raising a child. I am not being pessimistic. No, I am an optimist by nature. However, I want to be realistic and understand my limitations and not set myself up for heartbreak and disappointments in future. 


As a mother, I can only do my very best and equip my child with necessary life skills to navigate through the challenges and pain of growing up. I will teach her what my parents had taught me about having faith.


4. A deeper appreciation of human body

This pregnancy reminds me of the miraculous process that is happening in my body every single day. As I look into the mirror and see my growing belly, I marvel at my body and feel tremendous gratitude.


As a biology student, I have a decent understanding and respect for the human body but what you've learned in school pale in comparison to what you experience in real life.


It is mind-boggling how the body knows what to do at what time. The tiny being inside me knows how to grow, feed, multiply and divide itself to form tiny heart, lungs, arms, legs etc. And I have little awareness of this super complex miracle that is happening inside my body! How amazing is that?


I definitely learn that the body is incredibly resilient and it is an adaptive piece of biological machinery. Dramatic changes happen outwardly and internally day-by-day to accommodate the growing baby in my body. It hits home that I must appreciate and take better care of my body that is doing all the work during pregnancy and delivery. My job is to cooperate.


5. Pregnancy is a time of self-discovery

I have always imagined that I will freak out when I discover that I am pregnant (because of the deep ambivalence that I feel about being a mother, which is for another post). But when the home pregnancy test came back positive, I was over the moon and felt so grateful. There was not a shred of panic.


I also didn't expect the surge of strong and protective emotions over my unborn baby. Even at seven weeks, the size of a blueberry, I feel deep attachment and connection to my baby, whom to me is not a mere glob of cells but a real person. I love this baby with an intensity and fierceness that I don't quite recognise.


It just goes to show that I don't really know myself all that well. The other plausible explanation is that having a baby transforms me and that I need to be alert and mindful of the changes that are happening in my mindset, attitudes and behaviours. To me, this is a time a great self-discovery and transformation. I am very excited and look forward to the process.


6. Pregnancy is hard work.

The extreme fatigue that I experienced in the first trimester came as a huge surprise. All I was capable of doing during those period was eat and sleep. Who would have imagined that creating a baby could take so much out of you?


I learn that I need to listen to my body, manage my expectations, prioritize and show self-compassion. I am also learning to be more patient with myself. The pregnancy symptoms can be nasty at times and there is little that I can do to control them. I have to remember put the Serenity Prayer into action constantly.


Instead of feeling guilty for resting so much and being unproductive, I reminded myself constantly that my body is undergoing dramatic and important changes; that I am growing a baby and it IS hard work.


I am positive that there will be more important and great lessons that I will learn along the way. Most of all, I feel extremely blessed to have this amazing opportunity to experience a new life within me. I know having a baby is definitely going to be THE life-changing and turning point in our lives. I pray that I will embrace every aspect of motherhood with courage, faith and grace.


Food for thought: What have you learned from your pregnancy? I'd love to hear from you!


Please feel free to pass this on. Thanks for reading and sharing.


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