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Pregnancy and the Loss of your Identity

Identity Loss during Pregnancy When first learning I was pregnant, I had all sorts of expectations of what would happen to me physically and emotionally. Most of these expectations I gathered from friend’s or family’s’ pregnancies, and tidbits I’ve learned in school or picked up in the day to day. I knew I would gain weight, I knew there were restrictions on what I could eat or drink, and I knew cravings and a heightened sense of smell were involved in the whole baby making process, as well as many other wonderful and equally annoying grievances that come with the territory.

The one fact I did not know, never thought of, and was never told by anyone was the loss of your identity once you become pregnant- or at least when others find out. It took me by complete surprise and I would identify as my biggest struggle throughout my own pregnancy.

Once the word was out I was forever known as a baby vessel and that was about all I was good for, or at least that’s what it felt like. I knew my self-worth didn’t change, but why was it questioned by everyone else?

Exhibit A: I am no longer capable of doing my job, because I am a baby vessel.
Baby Vessel

To start this identity downward spiral I ended up in, I lost a job opportunity for one simple fact- I was making a tiny human. I won’t go into too much detail, but I lost out on this position for “potentially” being less productive once I was further along in my pregnancy. By the end of this ordeal I went from an intelligent, hardworking, and valued potential employee to a fragile and incapable idiot all because I was now growing a little person.

Now most would not identify with losing a job, but may identify with how they are treated in their place of work. In previous employment, I’ve witnessed a negative change in attitude towards both pregnant and breastfeeding coworkers, the worst of it was from those who were mothers themselves. Office gossip became about how inconvenient it is plan for and cover maternity leave. For the breastfeeding mother, the gossip was about her needing some time out of her day to express milk, let alone provide a place for her to do it.

In losing job opportunity and in witnessing these negative attitudes, it seems as though being pregnant was something to be ashamed of and is exactly how I started to feel.

So here it is Exhibit A: I am no longer capable of working, because I am no longer anything other than a baby vessel.

Pregnancy comments
Exhibit B: Suddenly becoming aware of your changing body and so does everyone else. Time for the insults!

My favorite comment- “you must be having a girl, because you face is getting fat”. Uhh! There is nothing like constant comments about your changing body to spoil the day. I look in the mirror and bravely use the scale every day, so I am in tune with what my body is doing at all times.

Whether the remarks were good or bad, I was not a fan of how suddenly aware everyone in my life became about my body. Upon walking into a room pre-pregnancy, I would be looked in the eyes and greeted with something like “hello, how are you?” Now their glance immediately goes to my midsection and the greeting usually involved some comment about it. This feels the worst when you’ve noticed that first stretch mark or you’ve miraculously gained 5 pounds over night. Again I felt a little bit of my identity fall away when my appearance became an important and constant topic of discussion.

Now to be fair, I know people do this because they love a preggo belly and are excited for the mommy to be. They are usually coming from a good place, but do they have to always be so insulting? Are they not aware of how self-conscious you get during pregnancy? Why are the worst comments coming from those who’ve been in my shoes before?

mood swings Exhibit C: All of your behavior is explained by your pregnancy, so you’re not taken seriously.

Have you ever had anyone not trust your taste in something, because you pregnant? On several occasions I recommended a dish at a restaurant or a recipe for example and was questioned whether or not it was actually delicious or if it was a “pregnancy thing”. It was difficult to not be sensitive to this especially when the message is “it sounds good but I don’t trust your judgement”.

Another equally frustrating example of not being taken seriously is being annoyed or upset by something and being told “you’re just sensitive or hormonal”. Umm... this would equally bother me whether I was or was not pregnant. Basically the statement here is when your gestating and something bothers you, doesn’t matter the legitimacy, you can’t be taken seriously because you’re just “being emotional”.

How would you expect your identity not to take a hit when you are no longer trusted in your opinions, emotions, or behavior?

advice during pregnancy
Exhibit D: It is clear you are baby clueless, time to be lectured.

On the day I took that test and got the big yes, the very first thing I did was tell my husband the exciting news, the second was do my research. Within the same day of finding out I was pregnant I purchased two pregnancy books (one for me and one for my husband), asked Google a million questions (okay you got me, not a million questions but it was quite a few), and was all over Pinterest (I even started a new board). My husband, bless him, went a little above and beyond. He was on the phone with the insurance company and several doctors’ offices getting needed information and asking questions. This being the very first day, imagine how much reading and researching we would do over the next 9 months. I can only speak for myself, but I imagine this is what most new parents to be do upon finding out they are adding to their family of two.

Despite your research and being up to date on all the latest information, you are clearly a baby dummy and it is most important for others to lecture you on how you should eat, drink, feel, look, and do during your pregnancy, especially when you did not ask for their input. You are under an invisible microscope 100% of the time by everyone you know, and don’t know. (Thanks stranger for your input, but I still want to order the pineapple juice despite whether or not you think I should have it).

In this final blow to my identity, I learned I must be treated like a child because I am inexperienced and uninformed about pregnancy.

Again as I’ve said earlier, I know most are coming from a good place and are trying to help. You should know despite everything I have mentioned I do not think they are heartless evil people out to tear me down. I do think in their efforts to be helpful, their message was delivered in the wrong way and could easily wreak havoc on anyone’s self-esteem.

Within everything I’ve described, I’ve also had many wonderful and kind people build me up and feel worthwhile. I could easily write a post about the generosity I’ve received in my own pregnancy, but that was not my focus here. If you are or were pregnant, you might be reading this and identify with some of what I am saying, or nothing at all. You could also know someone who is currently pregnant and you could use this information to understand what she is going though and think about what message you might actually be sending her. In any case I hope this message helps.

Comments

  1. Really like this post. It's real and despite being too young myself, I enjoyed reading it. I am sure it will help a lot of people!!!

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  2. Really informative content! Will share it with the needful! :)

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  3. This one is my favorite! It seems like it will help a lot of people realize what they say. I watched a movie tonight and the pregnant girl kept getting comments saying "you're so huge you must be due any minute" and "you have to be nine months already" which you could tell she hated. Loved it! <3

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is true tbh I've seen this happen to people before this is useful for other's to know

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  5. Nice post, it's very helpful in terms of knowing how to speak to pregnant women. Some people have no fliter in what they say.

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  6. When I was pregnant with more daughter folks attributed everything I said to be me being emotional because I was pregnant. It was the most annoying thing ever. I probably cursed more when I was pregnant because of that LOL....

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  7. ive nominated you for the liebster award
    https://therecoveryrepublic.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/2017-liebster-award/

    ReplyDelete

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