I sit in my office and turn my space heater off for the tenth time. My feet are burning up, but I know in a few minutes they’ll be freezing again. I watch the rotating spinner on my monitor telling me my report is still running, the data being pulled, and I wait.
I look at the clock. Only two hours into my work day, and I’m already set for a nap. Or lunch. I wonder if anyone would give me a hard time for eating my lunch at ten in the morning, but before I can decide I don’t care what anyone thinks of my eating habits, I feel a nudge under my hand from within my growing belly.
I smile. Pregnancy is awesome.
Now, I don’t always manage such a rosy view of my pregnant state. Some days it kind of sucks. For instance, I find it a bit hard to see the silver lining in the cloud of nausea that still hits me at bedtime despite being well into the second trimester, when that is supposed to taper off. It also seems wholly unfair that—despite this not being my first rodeo, but my fourth, and my body clearly knowing where things need to go since it’s displayed my baby bump since what feels like three weeks before I got pregnant—it apparently can’t get everything into place without the uncomfortable hurrah of pain in my round ligaments and sciatic nerve.
Then there’s the roughly 280 days I watch my husband drink delicious beer without me, because I love this man to the point that I could never ask him to suffer my same dry fate for so long.
There are indeed many reasons pregnancy is a trial—the queasiness, the hormonal mood swings, the physical aches and pains, and the umpteen lifestyle changes we make to care for this new life. Yet even amidst all of these are certain benefits to this time we spend nurturing and growing our baby.
1. Eat What You Want, When You Want
There will always be the people who poo-poo that deli sandwich, plate of nigiri, or bit of brie, and expecting moms are inundated with a multitude of perfect pregnancy meal plans designed to provide the ideal amount of nutrients from only the healthiest of whole foods. Yet when push comes to shove and morning sickness smacks us square in the gut and doesn’t let go for 16 long weeks, all of that will go right out the window as everyone reveals the tried and true secret of moms everywhere: we eat whatever we can keep down.
This is the time folks will smile and nod when you explain that Jose Ole frozen chimichangas are the only thing that sounds remotely appetizing, because moms who have been there—and dads who have made emergency grocery store or fast food runs—completely understand.
2. No Need to Suck in That Tummy
As soon as you’re ready to let the big news go public, you can also let your midsection relax. This is the time people actually delight in the growing inches around your waistline and will even ooooh and ahhhhh over it. No longer must we worry about which tops hug us in all the wrong curves, but instead we can embrace our expanding tummies and celebrate each new week of progress with those around us.
3. All-Natural Beauty Enhancement
Thanks to some ramped-up hormones coursing through our bodies, some moms experience an all-natural boost in their appearance. Skin glows. Nails strengthen. And it’s not just our tummies that become fuller and more luscious.
Our hair does, too. What did you think I was going to say?
4. An Extended Vacation from Aunt Flo
Pregnancy can be tiring and achy, our moods might swing a bit erratically (especially in the first trimester), and labor does hurt. Yet all of those are worth the spectacular benefit of not having to deal with the monthly hassle of menstruation for the better part of a year. As much as we love being women, I have yet to hear any woman claim this part of our femininity as a delight, making this one perk to pregnancy nearly all moms agree on.
I am not a napper, until I’m pregnant. Normally I find sleep to be a complete and utter waste of time when I could be doing anything else. But when I’m pregnant, I am hit with an exhaustion that cannot and will not be ignored. Any attempt to keep eyes open will fail, and it’s best to just give in and give our bodies—and our babies—the rest we need.
Pregnancy means the laundry can wait. Dinner can be ordered in. Older children can watch another movie. That’s because mom is taking a nap whether anyone else is ready or not, and we get to sans guilt!
6. A License to Be Pampered
It’s hard work to grow a baby, and it’s not always a delight to have your organs and bones and ligaments shifting to make room. As such, a little pampering is certainly appreciated, and this is when that monthly massage might need to fit somewhere in the budget or a nightly bubble bath might have to squeeze into the family schedule.
Of course, there is a fine line here, because while we might appreciate an extra foot rub now and then, we won’t take kindly to being treated like we are helpless or dying.
7. We Are Never Alone—But In a Good Way
As an introvert, the thought of never having alone time is suffocating and unnerving. However, this time with baby is amazingly different. It’s that peace in knowing there’s someone with you who is sharing even the quiet moments while requiring nothing more from you than just being there. There’s no need to talk—unless you want to—and through whatever you face—be it joy, fear, worry, or delight—your baby is right there with you, moving with you, living with you, and just being with you.
8. Quality Bonding Time
That leads to an incredible time to bond. Whether you spend hours talking to your baby aloud or never utter a word to him or her, you have this time to bond through every hiccup, every nudge, every roll, every stretch of a leg into a rib. Through it all you may get glimpses at baby’s personality and get to know his or her unique routines. It is a time like no other.
9. A Greater Sense of Purpose
Adele may have gotten flack for claiming a sense of purpose from motherhood, but it’s true. With pregnancy often comes this realization that we are indeed responsible for the life of another. This life we carry is not our own, but is from conception a separate entity, a separate being, a separate person with his or her own unique DNA.
We may be veteran moms carrying our fourth, fifth, or later child in our wombs, but that greater sense of purpose, that realization that we are caretakers and nurturers of a future generation, is as intense as it was with our first.
10. We Witness a Miracle Firsthand
I remember being a pro-abortion liberal in my teens, insisting pregnancy couldn’t be a miracle because it happened all the time. I was, admittedly, naive and rather stupid. I might still be a little of both—after all, I still have a lot of growing up to do—but having carried, grown, and birthed three children already a fourth currently kicking me from within as I type, and having heard countless stories from fellow mothers and fathers, as well as friends who struggle with the cross of barrenness and infertility, I know now that this creation of life is indeed a miraculous event, one we cannot always understand, predict, or control.
We watch as a faint line on a stick becomes an odd-shaped bean on a fuzzy screen that eventually is nudging our hands from within our bellies before looking into our eyes from a bundle of blankets. And we have front-row seats to it all!
We feel every move, witness every hiccup, carry every nutrient, and provide everything this little life needs to grow, mature, and thrive before greeting the outside world. It isn’t always pleasant. It sometimes feels unbearable. But all of this discomfort, pain, anxiety, and stress pales in comparison to the incredible blessing and joy we have to be entrusted with caring for a new life.
Here’s to all you pregnant moms and the fathers, husbands, friends, and family who support you through these ups, downs, twists, and turns. May we always remember the awesomeness of what we are doing and never lose sight of just how much this truly rocks.