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Keep Calm and Stop Promoting Unrealistic Expectations Around Pregnancy

Has anyone else seen this commercial? A woman is shopping and appears to get an idea while looking at a scarf. She purchases the scarf, then a bunch of carrots, all the while receiving and earnings points on her credit card. Cut to her husband pulling into the driveway in a snowstorm to find a snowman family greeting him on his front lawn. He smiles as he scans the family: there he is in snowman form, there’s his snowman wife, and then, WAIT… is that... a baby snowman! He looks to his wife who is standing on the porch rubbing her belly. He’s right—they’re pregnant!! Yay! They hug and rejoice.

Maybe I’m just third trimester crotchety right now… but can we just talk about this for a second? First of all, this newly pregnant woman is standing outside in the cold snow without a jacket. Secondly, do you mean to tell me that this newly pregnant woman has just spent hours out in the snow, without said coat, scarf, hat, gloves, etc., to build this snowman family?! Not one, not two, but two and half snowmen! Have any of you ever tried to build one snowman? It is very labor intensive! Def not an advised activity for a pregnant person. She has no gloves on! Aren’t her hands frostbitten? She’s in a very together outfit with her sweater and jeans. Where are the leggings and sweatpants? And why didn’t they show her nap between the very busy shopping trip and the snowmen building?!

I know, I know—I’m completely missing the point of this commercial. But as I’m nearing the end of my first pregnancy, it got me thinking about unrealistic expectations around being pregnant. Because even on a good day, I sure as hell was not building a snowman family without winter gear, in a snowstorm. A lot of these unrealistic expectations are fueled by commercials like this or social media posts.

Given what I do for work, I follow a lot of mom bloggers on Instagram, and did long before I was pregnant myself. And sure, there are a lot of amazing women out there posting the good, the bad, and the ugly, especially amidst the pandemic. I am so grateful to them and inspired by them. In fact, it was posts like theirs that made me feel okay about sharing about my pandemic pregnancy experience. I never really thought I’d be going public about peeing in my female urinal, lovingly referred to by my husband as my She-Wee. (See here).

Speaking of my She-Wee, in a desperate situation after a doctor’s appointment recently, I used my She-Wee in the car for the first time while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, all the while crying (but also laughing) in shame. Because baby was sitting on my bladder. AGAIN. But I digress. There is a lot more content featuring filtered pregnant women, with glowing skin and perfect blowouts, practicing yoga on a beach with an adorable tiny bump flooding my feed than the “real” stuff.

Even on message boards for “normal moms-to-be,” it’s so easy to feel like you’re doing it wrong. Or you’re not doing enough. A message board I follow regularly is associated with one of my pregnancy apps. All the moms are due the same month as me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read those posts and felt panicked. All these women whose nurseries were perfectly set up months in advance of baby’s arrival. Their closets stocked with diapers, wipes, and all the necessary items for baby’s first few weeks or months. Baby and mama coming home outfits customized on Etsy. Women that already purchased all these personalized and monogrammed baby items because they know what their baby’s name is. And they have-- for months! Meanwhile, my husband and I were using our baby’s room as an office/home gym/storage facility until this week, and we still haven’t decided on her name. And I’m due in 3 weeks. It’s so easy to find yourself feeling guilty and terrible. Am I just the worst, most unprepared mom, and my daughter is not even here yet?

If there’s anyone out there reading this feeling like this, know that you’re not alone. It’s so important that we take a step back and stop comparing ourselves or our journeys to others. We need to stop having such unrealistic expectations of ourselves, just because that is what we’re seeing. It’s such an instinctual thing to do, but it has rarely benefitted me. And you know what? I say we just embrace wherever we’re at. Because pregnancy is a lot. And it’s okay to cry all the time, not feel up to working out, never stop peeing, and not wear anything other than sweatpants.

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