Here's a different way to think about your exhaustion ...
As I get deeper into the first trimester, I find myself wondering how I ever did this twice before. The fatigue is unreal. Sometimes I climb the stairs, and have to rest on the floor for five minutes to recover. Sometimes I find myself whispering responses to my kids, because I don’t have the energy to speak full volume. It’s getting ridiculous.
Every time I go lie down, leaving the kids in front of Netflix, I think of what I’d be doing if I were myself — that person I used to know who was full of energy, creativity, and cheerfulness. Maybe I’d be reading to the kids, or taking walks, or doing a craft. Maybe I’d be handling that mountain of dishes, or finally making those phone calls, or watering those pathetic houseplants.
I know my body is throwing all its resources into this baby’s growth and health, but it’s hard for that to feel real. I’m not showing a bump yet. What does feel real is the thought that I’m not enough: not trying hard enough, not strong enough, not getting enough done.
These thoughts don’t even surprise me anymore. My self-esteem has always been tied up in what I accomplish. It shouldn’t be like that, but as it’s a habit that took years to build up, I expect it’ll take a while to knock down, too.
I can face this pregnancy. What I can’t face is the prospect of being utterly disappointed with myself for the next eight months. Maybe that makes right now a perfect time to practice re-framing the narrative.
What if instead of using the fatigue as proof of my own not-enough-ness, I used it as an opportunity to give my self-respect a different foundation? Pregnant or not, I’m going to need to learn that when I’m doing my best, that’s enough — even if my best isn’t remotely Instagram worthy. More than that, actually. Even when I’m not doing my best, and I’m struggling to cope, it’s still okay. Life is messy like that. Everybody has bad days.
I could take these waves of discouragement and frustration and use them to try to bully myself into doing more than my body is telling me I can. I could take the laundry list of what needs to be done, and use it to prove to myself that I’m inadequate. Or, I can use this time to learn to trust myself, to listen to my body, to be gentle with myself.
When I look ahead and think of eight more months of falling short, it’s pretty discouraging. But as a chance to get used to asking for and accepting help, a chance to lower unnecessary standards, to foster an attitude of non-judgment towards myself and your body? When I look at it like that, I think these months will be exactly what I need them to be.
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