Michelle is a beautiful artist, a loving mom, a vital member of her community and one of the founders of The Bravery Board , and she's really funny (did I mention that she just won and Emmy? yeah) She's essentially everything I look for in a friend, so when I asked her about writing a blog I was pretty excited when she said 'yes!' Michelle is on baby number two and her body isn't being easy on her. The reality of pregnancy isn't always glowing faces and tiny kicks so thank you Michelle for giving us a peek into what growing a human often looks like for women.
Last night I posted on Facebook something that for a while made me feel like I might be a bad person. I posted it anyway out of desperation toward my own inner-self. It read, “To all you women out there who just loved being pregnant - I don't know if I envy you or want to stab you in the eye.” Funny, yes, but sadly, I don’t feel like it was much of an over-exaggeration. It's kind of the truth these days.
Before you judge me, know I am a nice person. I am normal. I have lots of friends and rarely hold grudges. I give to charities and take care of children’s emotional needs for a living. I just am REALLY not enjoying being pregnant right now, and recently I actually felt the pains of wanting to say something terribly rude to a woman who, upon finding out I was pregnant said, “Oh don’t you just LOVE being pregnant? What a beautiful blessing.”
I won’t repeat what I wanted to say when she asked that. I will just leave it at the answer being, “No.”
This is my second pregnancy. My first son is four-years-old, and I do have to admit, the first time around pregnancy was a bit magical despite the physical trials I endured. I was 5 years younger for one thing. I had wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember, so every little twitch and pregnancy milestone I hit was a source of pride. First ultrasound. First kick. Shoot, even the bad stuff like hemorrhoids and him kicking me in the ribs to the point I lost my breath and the awful PUPS rash I got 2 weeks before I delivered felt more like bragging rights as to how hard my body was working. I marveled at what we women are capable of as I went through it. It was hard, but I reveled in God’s miracle and all that.
But now I’m older, more prone to gaining weight, feel more exhausted and brain-dead, and within two weeks of finding out I was pregnant, I have been consistently sick. Not just slightly nauseated in the mornings as the term “morning sickness” would fool you into believing. I’ve been flu-like-sick morning, noon, and night. Gone is any sort of “glow” that pregnant women describe feeling. I feel an utter distaste for all of it. I don’t feel pride for any of the trials my body has to endure while being pregnant. I don’t feel like they are another notch on my belt. I’m just sick and tired. And tired of being sick and tired. And I was scared to admit it until I wrote that Facebook post.
One of the things I have a hard time with is admitting to is that motherhood in this stage is just difficult. I’ve been afraid to say out loud how much I really dislike being pregnant this go around because it feels like blasphemy. What about all those moms out there who can’t have children? I also have some weird feeling that if I verbalize my distaste for being sick 24/7 and not being able to catch my breath and all that, that I am somehow damaging my unborn child. It seems like a ridiculous thought now that I am typing it, but we often times put ourselves in “this or that” mindsets forgetting that there is space for both.
What’s true is this: I can be excited about the outcome of this child and at the same time be dismayed by the journey to get there. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a bad mom. It means I am real. It means I don’t like being sick all the time. It means I like the vibrant energy-filled person I tend to be when I’m not carrying a child in my womb. That’s okay. That’s normal.
My confession, or rather my encouragement, to all those moms going through a tough pregnancy (or shoot, this could just as easily apply to those first few weeks of having a baby- don’t even get me started about that) is this: The mantra “It's hard, but worth it” is an okay phrase to adopt, and it's actually comforting to think of it that way rather than force yourself into feeling like it's all some sort of giant blessing. I know in the end, this will all be worth it and it will be a blessing. I know that I’ll love my son (yes, it's a boy!) like crazy and won’t be able to imagine a world without him once he gets here. But I also know it's okay to be authentic with how I am feeling in the here and now and not brush aside the hard parts because I don’t want to be ungrateful. We can feel two things at the same time- joy and pain- and that is the blessing and wonder of giving life and living life in the first place- its sacrifice, tears, pain, and joy all rolled into one.
Michelle Houghton is a counselor, painter, performer, speaker, and mother. She is the co-founder of The Bravery Board, a podcast and community-minded organization which hosts monthly gatherings related to wellness, thriving, and taking brave steps toward big goals. She is also an Emmy-winning writer and performer for The Mystery Hour, a comedic late night talk show based out of Springfield, MO, where she and her husband, (and host of the show), are raising their son and baby-on-the-way. Michelle is a connector, do-er, creative-thinker, and visionary. She strives to connect individuals to their overall potential and creativity, and applies her unique blend of self expression, vulnerability, and empathy to assist others in thriving