I’m 15 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I couldn’t be more excited. I feel strong, supported, and comfortable in my body. But this wasn’t always true. Not long ago, I was adamantly against ever having biological children or being pregnant. But obviously, I changed my mind.
Developing Ideas About Pregnancy and Parenting
I developed a lot of ideas about pregnancy and parenting in my twenties. I saw friends and coworkers build their families in different ways – through IVF, adoption, and traditional conception.
I was inspired by my friends’ adoption stories. I remember wondering, “If my future partner and I were struggling to conceive, would I want to do IVF?” I felt strongly that I’d want to adopt instead. And that led me to decide that adoption was the route I’d want to take regardless of the circumstances.
My Relationship with My Body
My relationship with my body solidified my desire to avoid the experience of pregnancy. From middle school into college, I’d struggled with a serious eating disorder. I was fortunate to get high-quality help from therapists and specialists. By the time I graduated from college, I no longer struggled with disordered eating behaviors. But disordered thinking about my body and sometimes about food was still a challenge. I feared that the changes pregnancy would have on my body would negatively impact my mental health.
Additionally, I developed irritable bowel syndrome during my mid-twenties, probably due to the chronic stress of teaching. I was uncomfortable or in pain most of the time. And I had to significantly change my diet to manage the inflammation in my digestive system. Since IBS is negatively impacted by hormonal changes, I worried that pregnancy would be unbearable for me.
When I’m interested in something, my response is to research and learn as much as I can about it. While I was researching adoption, I came across information about the foster care system in the U.S. As I learned more, I became interested in fostering and possibly adopting through the foster care system in the future.
My now-husband was on board with this idea, but I knew it would be several years before we were ready to become foster parents. I wanted to be involved, so I trained to become a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) to work with and advocate for children in foster care. This volunteer experience gave me a peek behind the curtain of the foster care system and how difficult it is to navigate (for everyone involved).
About a year and a half ago, we became foster parents to a teenager for four months. We learned quite a bit, and it was also one of the most challenging experiences of our lives. Seeing my husband as a father and getting to act as a parent myself was extremely rewarding. We talked about how we’d want to foster again in the future, but we needed more parenting experience first.
At that point, my husband casually suggested that we might try to have a baby. I surprised myself by being on board! At that point, I knew how deeply I wanted to build a family with him. We weren’t ready to do this in the way we had planned, but this new way suddenly seemed much less scary than it had before.
Changing My Mind
So how did I go from “no pregnancy or bio kids” to “I’m ready to be pregnant”? Well, it wasn’t a change that happened in a moment. It wasn’t even something that I was working toward. But the development that I went through in my late twenties and early thirties led me to this place.
Making Peace with My Body
First, I worked hard to get healthy and to support my digestive system. I try to stick to a diet that excludes foods that will aggravate my IBS symptoms. And I’ve made some big changes to reduce the expected stress in my life. The job I have now is much more manageable for me than teaching was. I appreciate having more energy left over for myself and my family at the end of the day.
I also became more dedicated to my yoga practice, which has helped both with my stress level and my relationship with my body. I’ve delved into a practice of embodiment, understanding my body and what it’s telling me. I have a deeper trust and appreciation for my body, and I’m often even in awe of what it’s capable of and the wisdom it has to share.
One of the most impactful experiences that led me to change my mind about pregnancy was supporting a friend through her pregnancy and birth a few years ago. This friend and I see the world in similar ways, and getting to walk with her through her pregnancy experience made it seem more accessible for me.
She chose to use a birth center for her pregnancy health care, and I was blown away by this facility and its staff. The way they supported her and affirmed her agency every step of the way was exactly what I wanted in any medical situation but so often struggled to find.
I realized that I was unconsciously scared of giving birth in a hospital. I didn’t want to be in the most vulnerable hours of my life, surrounded by people I didn’t know and nervous that my autonomy wouldn’t be respected. But a home birth didn’t feel quite right to me, either.
So when I learned that places like this birth center exist, everything changed for me. Pregnancy and birth started to feel less terrifying and more empowering – an experience I wanted to have.
Today, with My Mind Changed
Now, I’m a patient at that birth center, and the same friend I supported through her pregnancy is supporting me through mine. I love the synchronicity, and I’m so grateful for healthcare that affirms me and cares about my experience.
Some of my fears about pregnancy were valid. The digestive symptoms are more intense for me. But because I’ve done so much work to soothe my daily IBS symptoms (and because I have so many tools to work with), I’m not as uncomfortable as I anticipated.
Alternatively, there’s so much about pregnancy that has been better than I expected. I have felt incredibly loved and supported. I can already see my relationship with many of my friends transforming as we have this new thing in common. They have so kindly pulled me into the fold of motherhood and offered encouragement and advice.
I also love how pregnancy is changing my relationship with my body – in positive ways! There are new things to explore in my practice of embodiment – sensations and changes that I’ve never experienced before. And I have a deep reverence for the way my body knows exactly what to do every step of the way through this pregnancy.
I’m so grateful to have changed my mind about pregnancy and biological children. I believe it’s one of the most powerful things we can do as humans, to take in new information and make a different decision. Changing my mind on this particular issue has already brought me so much joy and fulfillment.
How did you come to the decision about how you wanted to build your family? Tell me in the comments below!
Below is a pinnable image. Save it to Pinterest so you can find it later!