Being Pregnant Doesn’t Always Mean You’re Happy

Movies and TV paint a stark, black-and-white picture of the moment a woman discovers she’s pregnant. Either she’s instantly transformed into an overjoyed, glowing pregnancy goddess who can’t stop caressing her belly, or she’s sobbing over the toilet with a positive pee stick in her hands.

But what if you’re somewhere in the middle?pregnant woman anxiously stares out the window in a baby nursery

My first pregnancy was a total surprise. We had been married for just two years, and kids weren’t even on our radar. For months, I cycled through all the emotions— curious to meet our baby, anxious we wouldn’t have enough money, scared we wouldn’t be good parents, sad to turn down splitting a case of wine from Cellar Rat …. And, most of all, I felt alone. I felt alone because everything I thought I knew about being pregnant meant you should just be happy, or you shouldn’t be having a baby at all.

I decided to try and find the secret to an all-the-time pregnancy high. I joined an evening mom’s group called Building Better Moms and this blog. Soon I went from having a handful of moms in my circle, to creating an entire network, all so I could sneakily watch them, learn from them, and figure out how to be that glowing, happy, maternal goddess from the movies.

I never figured out how to be a goddess. But I did realize that real moms are mere mortals, just like me.

From connecting with other moms, I learned that all feelings are valid while you’re pregnant, and for all kinds of reasons. Your life and your body are going through huge changes, and it’s okay to be a little anxious about what lies ahead for you and your family. Plus, the pregnancy hormones are no help.

Growing a human takes guts, and it also weirdly takes a sizable patch of your hair. We really don’t talk about those two facts enough.

If you find you’re spending most of your days anxious, depressed, or unable to cope with your pregnancy, please talk to your doctor. But if you’re riding the waves of your hormones and looking for a few ways to manage the lows, here are a few tips for keeping the positive vibes flowing during your pregnancy.

Let your mind skip to the good parts

Because I’m an Enneagram Type 7, I had a running list on my phone of places to explore and moments I was excited to share with my kid. Whenever I found something to be anxious about (like when the OB first pulled out a dilation chart), I added a positive experience to the list. My highlights included apple picking, matching Christmas jammies, getting into Legoland, and, for some very specific reason, visiting a kangaroo farm in Hudson, Iowa.

Allow yourself to be messy with your emotions

This was a tough one for me. But even if you like to put on a brave face, talking about your fears can help you manage them. Find a good therapist, or at least someone in your circle who won’t judge you for crying all over their lemon ricotta pancakes at First Watch.

Create a mantra

When you feel your thoughts spiraling, or you can’t find a silver lining, find a phrase that helps re-center yourself. I have mine plastered to my computer background: “What if it all works out?” Yours might be a self-affirmation, or even just a reminder that worrying won’t help. Whisper it under your breath, write it on a Post-It, make it into a half-sleeve tattoo …whatever makes you feel good.

Discover a distraction

If you can muster up the energy, now might be the perfect time to dive into a hobby that engages your senses and distracts your mind, like crocheting or playing piano. If you can’t muster up the energy, you know what’s a great hobby? All nine seasons of “How I Met Your Mother.”

Ask for help

A group of women, joined together at a mom's group, is standing together and smiling with their flowersIf you’re feeling overwhelmed with baby to-do’s, find someone to help. Ask a friend for an OB recommendation, let your support person or partner take the notes at the prenatal classes, or join a mom’s group in your community. Look, you’re on the Kansas City Mom Collective’s page, so you’ve already started! You’re a part of this collective, and we’re here for you.

So, if you feel like your smile is forced and your glow is mostly from night sweats while pregnant, just know you’re not alone. There’s another mom who has been there, who has cycled through the same worries as you. And at the end of her pregnancy, she gave birth to a child who loves her.

And, honey – you will, too.

Valerie Stark
A firm believer that the Midwest is all that and a tator tot casserole, Valerie moved to KC after graduating from Mizzou in 2013. She’s been married to her husband Josh since 2015, and together they’re raising two adorable, tiny human fireworks: a preschooler named Finnian and baby Olliver. Valerie spends her workdays making greeting cards while Josh wins at the stay-at-home-dad game by teaching the Stark brothers words like “yee-haw” and going on field trips for Costco rotisserie chicken. When she isn’t tracking down a new place to drag her family to, you can find her blasting showtunes, sharing (very poorly) wine with friends, reading, listening to true crime podcasts, or near cheese. You can’t find her playing kickball, so don’t even try. Valerie, Josh, Finn, and Ollie shoot for put-together, but settle for put-on-pants—and they love every second of their reasonably-chaotic life.