A sad part of pregnancy is having the whole world basically hand you a list of can’ts, frost it with a layer of shouldn’ts, and top it off with a dollop of probs nots. At least that is unfortunately how I have looked at pregnancy up until a few weeks ago. Especially as a pregnant horseback rider.
For me, the “victim” dialogue invading my brain started the minute I got kicked by Emma at five weeks pregnant and needed my surgery. I felt ill, broken, painful, and useless. It was terribly frustrating to be pinned down with little to do but rest and recover. That’s when the depression started creeping in, silencing the strong determination that had initially been saying “this is temporary, you are a badass, you survived, you are proud” and replacing it with a feeble pessimism whispering “you can’t, you won’t, not now, maybe not ever, you are broken”.
I very quickly convinced myself that my body and my life would not fully function until after my pregnancy was over. It didn’t help that most people treated me just as the pessimistic reel playing in my brain told me I was: impaired. The doctors encouraged me to stay away from the horses and have others oversee their care. My neighbor insisted I call on her before I attempted even slightly strenuous tasks, refering often to my “delicate state”. My mother in law would order my husband to do everything for me during her visits and constantly fretted over how my incision would be affected by pregnancy and vice versa (read: it hasn’t at all, but she still acts like I won’t be able to have a normal delivery because my abdomen was sliced open over half a year ago). Friends implied that W should be essentially placing me on pedestal, fetching my cravings and rubbing my feet.
Depressed Emily LOVES playing the victim. If I am broken and useless, then I can fester on the couch to lick my wounds and continue to feel stuck and hopeless. The ONLY person in my life refusing to see me as this weak feeble invalid was my husband, who has not wavered in his attempts to break my downward spiral. Unfortunately for him, any encouragement to get back to the hardworking me he knows and loves has been met with a lot of backlash. Depressed Emily doesn’t want to be encouraged, damnit, coddle me! I am victim!
I think it took hitting a little rock bottom back when we moved Sully to make me realize I couldn’t keep wasting away in my pregnancy. Sobbing through my days and doing nothing else but longing for the month of April was downright silly. I kept looking forward to the day that I would “have my own body back”. Hitting bottom and seeking therapy, as well as hiring a birth coach (known as a doula) has completely turned my mindset around. It just took changing the reel playing in my brain.
In reality my body was right there, completely in my control, doing the unbelievably amazing task of creating another human being. Not only that, but I am capable of doing so many things just as I normally would with this fabulous body of mine. It is not broken. I am not resigned to couch sit for another two months. I can go out into the barn, brush my horse, clean my tack. I can even go to yoga class and do 90% of the poses as they are, modifying when my belly gets in the way, strengthening my body for an easy transition back into the saddle postpartum. I do not have to play a waiting game, I can do things right now today to feel like myself.
It is still hard to hold my ground when others try to question my ability to do something. For instance, the other day when my neighbor questioned the fact I was still driving myself places (wtf? I still have legs…). Or, when my mother in law skipped right past the fact I was really excited about having my doula and how much it has helped me, and instead didn’t hide her massive judgement when it came to my doula: “does this woman even have any training?” (no, she just woke up yesterday and thought she’d be witness to my birth, she hasn’t done this 140 times and isn’t a certified doula, childbirth educator, and hypnobirthing educator taught by the queen of hypnobirthing herself. Oh wait, yes she is!).
It is a constant challenge to shut out the negative chatter, but for the next few months until my son arrives I am more determined than ever to only expose myself to positivity about birth, my body, and life after baby. I am beginning to learn that those who perhaps did not have their birth(s) go the way they wanted do not want to even allow me to look forward to the experience and view it positively; rather they want to discuss how it never goes the way you want it to, and launch into their own dramatic tales of stress, c-sections, and pain. Whereas my own mother has nothing but positive things to say about this natural life event, having had two wonderful midwife births that were peaceful and beautiful. Hence for the next fee months only my mom is coming to visit and nobody else 😂. Living in the middle of nowhere certainly has its perks.
Not broken, just pregnant. Still horse obsessed, still very capable, and in just as much in control of today as I will be of tomorrow. And tomorrow is looking to be exciting as hell.