It’s hard not to miss the sympathetic stares while checking the mail or picking up groceries. The way shoulders slump and worry creases eyes and mouths. I am very pregnant. During a global pandemic. I get it. I take the opportunity to smile and rub my ever growing belly in hopes of deflecting the worry. Of course I’m worried. Of course I’m scared. But Dion needs me to be strong and it would do neither of us any good for me to succumb to the emotions of others.
I could have never imagined that this would be how I’d spend the last half of my pregnancy. Afraid of human interaction. Wearing masks and gloves. Washing and sanitizing my hands until they become dry and itchy. Video calls being the only way for me to see and keep in touch with loved ones. As much as I’ve grown to disdain the term, these are extremely unprecedented times.
The bravery I try to embody is as much for me as it is for Dion. I can’t fall apart. For someone who has openly struggled with anxiety and depression in the past, I am constantly aware of the thoughts and emotions running through my body. This would be a less than ideal time for my anxiety to rear its ugly head. It feels as though I’ve been on edge for the past two weeks and I see no end to it with me being so close to the finish line of this pregnancy. I’ve hit 35 weeks today and with the incredible amount of uncertainty existing all around us, I’ve found happiness in simplicity.
Here are a few things I’ve been doing to help ease the tension and stress of being pregnant during a pandemic.
Breathing is one of the easiest things I can do for my anxiety. Inhaling and exhaling are simple actions that can force your brain to release endorphins to initiate a calming effect. Stress leads to cortisol in the body. Taking intentional deep breaths will relax you and regulate your heart rate and blood pressure. Taking deep breaths forces me to connect with myself and weed out where I may be carrying too much stress.
I’ve also been more observant of life outside. Whether I’m staring out my window or taking in the beauty of nature during brief outdoor outings, I find myself in awe of the way raindrops collect on leaves. I can lose minutes just staring at the clouds in the sky or the way the wind sways the trees. I’ve grown childlike in my appreciation for the strength and resolve nature has shown me during the craziness of today. How can there still be so much beauty amidst all this ugliness?
Being more present has given me the perspective of what it could be like for my son to experience this world for the first time.
Purposefully seek out moments of joy. Writing, reading, filming youtube videos, even updating my Bullet Journal have all been simple ways I have been able to comfort myself and retain a link to the creativity I need to function.
I also find comfort in being in my kitchen. With us being home, this has been the perfect time for me to reconnect with my other favorite version of storytelling. Preparing meals and taking the time to make juices and smoothies has given me the space to be continuously grateful for my body and its ability to do things.
Comfort for me also means removing what is not serving me. I look for news when I want it instead of allowing myself to be bombarded by the updates. While watching what you physically consume is important, watching what your brain consumes is equally as imperative. Turn off notifications. Block things that are bringing you down. Surround yourself with as many positive influences as you can. They can mean a world of difference.
Who knows when this will all be over? And to be honest, even once it is, life as we knew it may never be the same again. Being pregnant right now has been one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am learning so much about myself and the world. I am holding tight to happiness because I know that the world I am bringing my son into will be completely new for the both of us and whatever I can do to sharpen the jagged edges of this new reality will teach us how to survive.