Genevieve Wilson describes what it's like having a baby in the Instagram age
I have found pregnancy really difficult. There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so delighted to be having a baby with the person I love and I am beyond happy that we’re bringing a little human into the world, but I have found the journey so far pretty tough.
It’s a tricky subject, as I know so many couples have difficulty conceiving and people might read this and think I’m ungrateful. We didn’t have any issues when it came to getting pregnant and for that reason alone, we’re extremely lucky. We’ve also had a relatively easy pregnancy, so far so good with the baby, and fingers crossed it continues to go that way. But does that mean I have to be on cloud nine for the duration? I think that there’s an enormous amount of pressure put on pregnant women to feel and look a certain way, and sometimes the reality is completely different.
The number one thing I’ve struggled with is the anxiety that I’ve felt, and I wouldn’t normally consider myself an anxious person. The initial joy I felt on discovering we were having a baby was quite quickly overtaken by sheer panic. And no matter how many hospital appointments or scans that we go to, the worry only briefly subsides. Then, another worry rears its ugly head and although I know they are far-fetched things to be fretting about, I really can’t help myself. Even as I sit here writing, my mind is awash with bothers and concerns that I probably needn’t be panicking about. I also feel guilty, guilty that I’m complaining about my situation when I should be the happiest woman in the world. And am I jinxing myself by writing this?! These are just some of the irrational thoughts that pop in and out of mind when I know should be focusing on the positive aspects of my life at the moment.
The first few months of my pregnancy were hard, we had to keep it a secret and that proved to be quite lonely. It was also Christmas time, probably the most social time of the year, and I had to seclude myself, making excuses as to why I was being so uncommunicative. It didn’t help that every person in the world seemed to be out and about having #festivedrinkswiththisone, and I guess I was generally feeling quite miserable. I was also sick, really sick. It’s a sickness that you can’t explain but the nausea was so overpowering, making it to the bathroom in time to throw up felt like I’d been tasked with climbing Mount Everest. The exhaustion that engulfed me was incredible. Asides from that, my hormones took over and I felt like a stranger in my own body. This wasn’t helped by the inexplicable lumps, bumps and bodily fluids that were rapidly appearing, which would continue to appear over the next eight months.
I began to feel more like myself again after we passed the three month mark. More energy, more excitement, and it seemed like the sickness was going away. Some issues with my body image started to develop, nothing serious, but I found my increasing waistline pretty hard to digest. It wasn’t really my increasing waistline actually, but more-so my lack of control over it. I’ve always been an active woman and maybe I care too much about the way my body looks. I started being militaristic with my diet when I turned about 20 and the gym became a huge part of my life. You can easily become obsessed with what you eat, so becoming pregnant and suddenly having to eat a lot more than you usually would, can take a bit of getting used to. My gym routine took a back seat, as did any form of dieting, and my priorities completely shifted from my appearance to the health of the little person living in my tummy.
Not every woman easily embraces becoming pregnant.
That might have sounded vain, but letting go of my physique did take a bit of a mental adjustment. Yet saying something like that out loud makes you feel like a criminal. How could I be concerned about my figure when I’m bringing a life into the world? How conceited can someone be? Do I really have nothing else to be thinking about? This is what I mean about the pressures that are put onto pregnant women in our society today. Not every woman easily embraces becoming pregnant and not every girl celebrates her rapidly chasing frame, but you sure as hell better pretend like you do. I don’t know where this pressure comes from, maybe it’s actually coming from somewhere internal, but I think a large amount of it has to boil down to social media, Instagram being the biggest killer.
My feed is flooded with photos of beautiful pregnant women. Some of them are peers, some of them are celebrities and bloggers, and some of them are people I’ve never heard of before. And the majority of them are so over-the-top vocal and gushy about how much they’re loving every minute, how pregnancy has been the best experience of their entire lives, and how they’re feeling really bloody great. This again makes me feel guilty because I don’t really feel that way. And where are the people, like me, who haven’t been feeling so swell? Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I do feel really good, but if I don’t jump online and post about it, does that mean it didn’t happen? It’s a competitiveness that I can’t keep up with and I have a feeling that things get even worse after you give birth. I’m already anticipating what my post-baby bod is going to look like, silly I know, but you can’t help it when you go online and see how other women have transformed themselves. I’ve seen so many #postpartum pics that are putting me to shame and I haven’t even had my little baba yet. But I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
So now we’ve finally made it to the last trimester, the final hurdle, and my emotions are mixed. I’m scared, surprisingly not about the delivery, but more so about whether our baby will be healthy and whether my parenting skills will be up to scratch. I’m apprehensive about finances and stepping away from my career. Again it’s not nice feeling out of control, but I’m learning how to process things.The nervousness that has been with me since the beginning of my pregnancy is probably worsening, you get this far into your journey and all you want is for everything to be OK, and that feeling can outweigh the excitement that’s surrounding you.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m not thankful, I wouldn’t change my life or my situation for anything in the world. There’s no feeling nicer that experiencing movement in your tummy or seeing the shape of your baby child in the ultrasound photos and trying to imagine what she or he is going to look like. All I’m trying to convey is that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies for everyone, and it’s a long and sometimes isolating path. I have all the respect in the world for women who go through their pregnancies alone because if truth be told, I know I wouldn’t be able to. I have an amazing support network of friends, family and a lovely other half, and even with that, I have found myself struggling.
Yet still, I wouldn’t take back a difficult day or an ailment that I’ve experienced and I really can’t wait to meet our little person. Wish me luck!
UPDATE: This article was first published in our July issue and Genevieve has since welcomed a healthy baby girl! Our August issue is on shelves now!
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