Friday, June 6, 2014

My Feet Hurt. Is That OK?

A while ago I was talking to a friend who was nearing the end of her second pregnancy, I asked how she was feeling and she responded she was feeling quite well, this pregnancy had been much easier than her first during which she admitted that she had gone to bed in tears every night. I told her I was relieved to hear that because I too had a rough first pregnancy, so rough that I had been too scared to repeat the process yet. Then she said something that I'm still thinking about almost a year later, "You know I don't know why we have to pretend we're doing great when we aren't."

Another friend of mine who is weeks away from having her baby recently posted on Facebook that the extra steps she had to take because she forgot her wallet brought her to tears. Yet she was scared to admit that for fear others might see her as ungrateful.

A healthy pregnancy is arguably the greatest miracle that life can offer. So many little things have to go right at the right place at the right time that I've often wondered how anyone conceives children. I believe that most women, if not all, are aware of the great fortune and blessing that comes with the ability to conceive and carry a child. But pregnancy is also very physically challenging, usually the most physically taxing thing that most of us will go through in our lives. For almost a full year pregnant women experience nausea, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, back pain, mood swings, sensitivity to smell, swelling, cramps, heartburn, joint pain, bladder problems and more. And those are just the standard inescapable symptoms, not to mention the multitude of common complications that can arise as well. Let's talk about my feet, for example. Every day for four months my feet looked like this.

I couldn't stand or walk for longer than about ten minutes at a time. And you know what I would say when people asked me how I was feeling? "Great! I'm so happy to be pregnant!" But you know what I really, desperately, achingly wanted to say instead? "I'm so happy to be pregnant but my feet hurt."

I didn't want to complain incessantly about every Tum and Tylenol I had to pop. I didn't want to bombard large groups on social media every time I sneezed and consequently peed my pants. I didn't want everyone around me to bring me platters of food and speak to me only about my fetus. But I did want to be able to admit that my feet hurt when someone asked me how I was feeling.

Surely, there has to be a way where pregnant women can maintain their gratitude and still be allowed to openly communicate about their physical discomfort. We allow, and in some cases expect, other people experiencing physical discomfort for reasons other than pregnancy to be open about what they are feeling. Admitting to physical difficulty doesn't have to be considered the same thing as proclaiming irreverence and ingratitude for the miracle of pregnancy. Surely there can be a way for me to say my feet hurt.

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