You can never really prepare for the surprises of pregnancy. Some are challenging, like how horrible it really is to be nauseous for months at a time, while others feel like blessings. As I enter the third trimester of my first pregnancy, I've been in awe of how it has brought me closer to the women in my life. It's been one of those blessings, one I wasn't expecting since we often focus on the physical changes involved with pregnancy and how becoming a parent will impact our relationships with our partners or careers.
It starts with my mum. I've heard it from other new mums before, but it's true that when you're pregnant you have a new appreciation for your own mother. You realise that the inherent connection you feel with the baby growing inside of you is something she's felt for you this whole time. It breaks my heart to think I was ever short with or ungrateful to her over the years, although it also helps prepare me for what might come with my own daughter. My mother's unconditional love feels like a safety net that will carry me through the challenges of motherhood, and I've found her to be an invaluable resource about what to expect as a parent. Intellectually, I was able to appreciate everything my mother gave me, but it wasn't until I was pregnant that I felt a deeper connection to those sacrifices and love. I expect for that to grow even more once the baby comes.
But it's not just my own mother — or mothers in general — whom I've come to appreciate. I've become closer to the women in my life with or without kids, perhaps because men (including my husband) can't really get what's going on physically. I've had seriously TMI conversations with my sister, who has helped me deal with unreasonable anxiety over every little thing. If I'm freaking out about a random symptom, I can ask her to Google it so I don't have to burden myself with the rabbit hole of the internet. Her generosity and curiosity about what exactly changes with your body when you become pregnant is something we've bonded over, even though she doesn't have kids. I can't imagine doing this without her.
As a pregnant woman, I've also been thankful for friends who have opened up about their own pregnancy, parenting, or fertility experiences. It's brought us closer in a new way. When I was young and single, my female friendships were the most important relationships in my life. Whether it was my college roommates or childhood friends, we would talk for hours and it felt like we knew everything about each other. As I've gotten older and built a life with my husband, natural distance developed between me and my girlfriends without me even realising it. But today, their genuine interest in my pregnancy has led to many conversations about that and so much more. Some conversations have been hilarious, while others have allowed us to open up about the challenges we each face. Either way, it's provided an opportunity to reconnect with this important part of my life.
Recently my mum recounted her experience delivering me more than 30 years ago. As it got tough, she thought of all the generations of women who had been in the exact same spot before. It helped her feel strength when the whole thing felt impossible. As I prepare for my own delivery, I will call on that common experience and the support of all the women in my life to give me confidence. And for that I'm grateful.