Lazy pregnancy = bad mom?
March 27, 2006 5:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm pregnant and it's not at all what I thought it'd be. And evidently I'm not at all the kind of mother I thought I'd be.

I'm 8 weeks pregnant and the baby was a surprise (my husband and I had finally stopped focusing on getting pregnant after about a year of not succeeding). Last year, when we were really hyper-focused on it, I had so many plans for the kind of pregnant mom I'd be -- I memorized the nutrition requirements, was so certain I'd exercise and do all the things to ensure my baby was the healthiest it could be.

I guess I'm having trouble coping with the feeling that I'm a horrible mother-to-be. Because the reality is, I can barely bring myself to eat anything (I'm living on saltines, ginger ale, cereal and other random, non-healthy things). I'm not doing much besides laying around. And I feel really guilty about it, yet physically, I feel so horrible that I can't really fathom preparing (or eating) good meals or getting any kind of exercise. On top of that, I'm feeling pretty useless in general because my other responsibilities (my freelance work, contributing to my husband's business, and household chores) are really suffering. Basically I feel lazy and worthless, in spite of the fact that my husband's been supportive. I know plenty (if not most) other mothers-to-be are able to juggle working full time, taking care of other kids, etc. and the fact that I can't seem to do the bare minimum is really tearing me up.

Oh and one other thing -- one would think that the fact that we've had some complications (a miscarriage scare, low fetal heart rate, and a trip 2 days ago to the ER with a UTI and enlarged ovarian cyst) would motivate me to be SuperPregnantMom. But it hasn't. Sure, I spend a lot of worrying (and convincing myself that "bed rest" is somehow helping), but nothing productive to enhance the health of my baby.

Sorry this is so long...I guess I'd just appreciate any kind of advice on handling either the practical side of pregnancy or the emotional aspect of feeling like such a bum and a bad mother. Thanks in advance.
posted by justonegirl to Health & Fitness (48 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've never been pregnant, so I can't comment on the health part of it. But my mother ate nothing but pumpernickel bread and strawberry jam for weeks on end when she was pregnant with my elder sister. And my sister turned out fine. If you're worried, then make an appointment to see your doctor for some advice, but I think you're going to be fine.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:05 AM on March 27, 2006

[Male] No matter what you think about yourself, you've done more today than I could do in a lifetime. Just think, this morning you made a kidney! That is miraculous. Sorry I don't have any suggestions for you...
posted by iurodivii at 6:05 AM on March 27, 2006

Your body is busy making a whole new person, that's exhausting. Truly, I'd cut yourself some slack and just get the rest you need. It's not lazy, a pregnant woman's body tells her what she needs, you need rest. When my wife was pregnant, she would go to bed at 5.30 PM every night. Especially early in the pregnancy, when she felt dreadfully sick every morning, afternoon and night.
posted by visual mechanic at 6:12 AM on March 27, 2006

I'll tell you.

Relax. You're hard on yourself. The prior generation smoked during pregnancy.

You need to occupy your time, start early in the morning. Nice, little achievable goals. Keep in mind how much you help others (I know how much you do from previous ask.mefi questions.)

You're holding uber expectations for yourself - quit seeing that your behavior at 8 weeks makes you a bad parent.

There's too much time on your hands - being at home, alone with no structure is very, very, hard on people. Many who do 'eveyrthing' are scheduled out the wazoo. It's very clear you need structure. Take a moment and structure your life. Start with this afternoon. Every hour.

Oh, and your eating leads (to some degree) your feelings. Get some decent vitamins into your system too.

You're still my hero.

Everyone has their weak day
posted by filmgeek at 6:25 AM on March 27, 2006

At least two acquaintances of mine had overwhelming fatigue the first trimester (and sounded just like your 2nd paragraph). DO NOT compare yourself to "supermom" pregnant women who run marathons, work 80 hrs a week, etc. because every woman's pregnancy is individual and how you will be affected physically is largely out of your control (and get used to not being in control of your body all the time NOW--welcome to the pregnant condition!). Talk to your OB/GYN about your concerns, follow his/her advice, and then stop beating yourself up--eat the humble pie (i.e. "I'm not a superhero pregnant lady, I'm just tired all the time") and just focus on doing the next right thing.
posted by availablelight at 6:26 AM on March 27, 2006

congratulations. first, preganancy is exhausting. chances are it will get better the second trimester. second, pregnancy makes you stupid. i don't know why, but it does. third, just the fact that you are concerned about this makes you a better mom than far too many people.

this is one of the only times in your life you have a legitimate excuse to be lazy. as said above, listen to your body - it needs all its energy for creation right now. eat what you can. you still have a ways to go and there is plenty of time to get your nutrition in. get a good prenatal vitamin to get you through until you get your appetite back.

you will be a great mom as long as you remember all those books and advice are a guideline. there will be things that are not right for you and your child and the world will not end if you don't do them. there are bad mothers for sure, but there is no such thing as a perfect one.
posted by domino at 6:29 AM on March 27, 2006

First of all, congratulations!!

Secondly, I've been pregnant! And it sucked (for a while, then I kind of dug it). I know exactly how you feel right now though. Guilt is a sucky thing.

The foods you are eating are the usual types of foods suggested to pregnant women who are feeling "morning" sickness (which can happen any time of day). Don't fret. You might develop other craving and eating habits later on in your pregnancy. Just go with the flow and listen to what your body wants. For example, my body only wanted chocolate cookies. :-)

Your body is adjusting and making hormones at a feverish pace. It's COMPLETELY NORMAL to feel like you aren't doing everything perfectly. IMO, there is too much information about pregnancy that is just thrown at the newly pregnant woman, and every book and every so-called expert and every stranger on the street has a different theory and agenda on what you should be doing, and you can't follow every piece of so-called advice without going crazy.

Really, you will be fine. I don't mean to dismiss your very real fears, but really, you will be fine. The first trimester is often the worst in terms of how you feel physically. Your body is making a HUGE adjustment. A few more months along, and you will probably feel a lot better.

Remember that you are making a very real contribution by gestating the next member of the family. So you don't feel like cooking or freelancing or helping anybody else out. Feh! There will be plenty of time for that later.

And ALL the women you think are successfully juggling career, motherhood, pregnancy and everything else are either very very rich and have lots of help, or are making it up as they go along, just like the rest of the world.

You might be interested in looking over some of the pregnancy boards on the web. You can have conversations with women due around the same time as you, so you can compare notes. I wish these had been around when I was pregnant, as just knowing I wasn't the only one feeling what I was feeling would have been a great help.

Good luck!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:37 AM on March 27, 2006

[Male also]

I am not a doctor, but I'd like to suggest you talk with yours and convey your feelings. There are resources that might be of help to you.

From my standpoint (a father of two) your feelings are not "off the board." Given how difficult it has been to conceive for you I'm not surprised you are feeling anxiety. And, as others have said, your body is working overtime. Lots of changes, hormonally and otherwise, that could affect your moods.

Have you shared your feelings with your husband?
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 6:40 AM on March 27, 2006


You are NOT a bad mom!!

You are not lazy. You are not "doing damage" to your baby.

Extreme tiredness, nausea, and lack of appitite are all fairly normal parts of early pregnancy.

You write: physically, I feel so horrible and yet you also say you're lazy. Lets get this straight once and for all: You are not being lazy. Your body is telling you something, you need to listen to it. Your body is telling you what you need to do: you need to rest. Do what your body tells you: rest. Start off by taking two or three days totaly off and do nothing by sleep and relax.

Don't forget: not only are you building a whole new person, but you're also growing an extra organ to feed that person. That's hard work. Its no wonder your body is tired. Listen to your body. It knows what its doing.

As for the food: You are lucky to have a supportive partner. Ginger Ale, crackers, cereal, random foods -- all fine. Just ask him to go shopping to stock your cupboards with a variety of bland yet healthy snacks so you can graze at will. Don't try to force yourself to eat food that is unappetizing to you. For most women, the tiredness, the lack of appetite, the nausea will ease up about 14 weeks. In the meantime, make it your spouse's job to make sure you take your vitamins every day, and there's not much more you can do. (Tip: My pre-natal vitamins made me very sick. My midwife advised me to eat 1 cup of total cereal plus a Flintstone's chewable vitamin with iron every day. This change worked wonders for me.)

It sounds like you're already getting pre-natal care, and that's good. Be sure to talk about these feelings with your MD/Midwife. This is important stuff, and your care provider can add some insight about your individual situation that we here on the internet cannot.

Now, one other thought:
For us 21st century moms, we're bombarded -- and I do mean bombarded with advice about "how to have the best/smartest/healthiest baby" and its almost all framed in scare tactic terms. I actually had someone tell me recently that if I ate a single tuna sandwich during my pregnancy, I was clearly "not as devoted to the health of my baby" as I should be.

You'll excuse me for saying so but: bullshit

Babies have been born healthy and smart and active and happy for tens of thousands of years without all the angst that we have now about "proper pre-natal care". I'm presuming here that you're not drinking and smoking and using crack. That would make you a bad mom.

A wise woman once told me "Worry is the work of pregnancy" and its ok if you worry - some. But, in the end, you can only do what you can do. But please, please, please don't stress about this. You're a good person, and good mom, and your baby will be beatiful and healthy and will love you very much.

I'm currently at 23 weeks, and my first 14 weeks were much like you described. Email me any time you want -- my email is in my profile. I'd be happy to talk more with you about this.
posted by anastasiav at 6:41 AM on March 27, 2006

1. Buy this prenatal vitamin. Take it like religon.

2. Make a list of things you can do that you enjoy and that reduce your stress level. Do these things. Even if they include watching Lord of the Rings like 50 times in bed.

Adding the vitamin and increasing your enjoyment of life will address 90% of your problems.
posted by ewkpates at 6:42 AM on March 27, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks so much to everyone for the support and encouragement. It truly means a lot.

I have been on prenatal vitamins since we found out I was pregnant (I was taking them pre-conception last year, but stopped for no good reason). And I am trying to forgive myself for resting so much. It's just hard because of what I suppose are perfectionist tendencies -- not to mention the overwhelming, soul-crushing guilt I feel when my husband walks in from work and, yet again, I'm curled up on the couch and have accomplished nothing.

Again, the kind comments are truly appreciated and any additional advice will be also. Thanks.
posted by justonegirl at 6:49 AM on March 27, 2006

Just to echo lots of other comments above: First trimester really can be draining; you are growing another human being; you are not in control of your own body right now - your hormones are; and this is a life-changing event, which by its nature brings a gamut of emotions, including ambivalence. You're not a bad mom-in-training, nor are these feelings any indication that you'll be a bad mom once the baby gets here.

That being said, this is an excellent Teaching Moment: to let go of all the preconceived notions you have about pregnant women, mothers and families. Try to banish thoughts like "I'd never _____ (put my kid in daycare, use disposable diapers, feed them processed foods, go back to work before they're in school, whatever)" from your brain.

Because life gives you what it gives you, and all you can do is react to it and do what's right for that moment. If everything's in the context of what you should be doing/feeling, that's a lonely place. No matter what choices you make, someone else is making the opposite choice, and likely judging you for yours. Beating up on yourself won't change that; it will only make it worse.

For now, take care of yourself, listen to your body and let the universe do what it's going to do. Sorry to be so long; getting off my soapbox now.
posted by SashaPT at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Not to sound like a troglodyte but, you know, having your mate be a provider while you incubate a child has been a successful model in the past. You say he's supportive; I know I was wishing there was more I could do to bear my wife's burdens when she was pregnant. In time, the need and desire for you to undertake some activity is quite likely to strike. I gather you have some insurance, so if you're having nutritional deficiences of some kind, you'll no doubt find out soon enough because prenatal is one of those areas where HMOs know for sure that prevention is cheaper than anything else. So I wouldn't worry too much about having a so-so diet -- many women have a hard time keeping much down anyway.

Congratulations on the happy surprise. Be well.
posted by blueshammer at 6:57 AM on March 27, 2006

I'd have to agree with everyone here. You had highly unrealistic expectations of how your pregnancy would go (understandable, having never been pregnant before) and now you're realizing that hey, it actually takes a lot out of you. I'd say as long as you're keeping down as much food as you can, and not actively trying to hurt the baby, then you really are doing fine. I'd guess that once you get into your 2nd trimester, there's a much better chance that you'll be able to get more super-mom-ish. :)
posted by antifuse at 6:57 AM on March 27, 2006

Had the pregnancy from hell. Morning sickness for 9 entire months, 24 hours a day - lots of problems. Hated being pregnant. Couldn't wait for it to be over. Had to be hospitalized several times. Was sure my baby would be a premie.

Went to term. Had a wonderful, healthy baby, who is nearly grown now. She's great, smart, beautiful, miraculous.

Remember, your baby takes what it needs and leaves the rest for you. You're the one living on gingerale & crackers. It's one reason why you feel the way you do. I did, too. I'm still here.

You know what? Your husband can make do. That's his job right now. The other super moms? Irrelevant. They're not making your baby. You do what you need to do, how you need to do it. No regrets. Really!
posted by clarkstonian at 6:58 AM on March 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's normal. You're not "being lazy". You're building a whole new person and the factory to build it in. Your entire body is getting used to the idea. It will take a while for the hormones, etc to balance out. And so it's not like you thought it would be. Welcome to motherhood. :)

First step: THROW OUT THE DAMN BOOKS! Really. All they do is make you feel 'inferior'. Keep one, maybe. If you've got a good one that talks only about fetal development, and how to tell if something is really wrong without being scary, keep that one. Pitch all the books that talk about what a wonderful experience it is, and how important it is that you do everything just as the book says. PIFFLE. They're just trying to sell books. People have been having babies for thousands of years without books.

Eat what you want, when you want. Your body will tell you what it needs. Find a prenatal vitamin you can tolerate. That is important.

The worst thing you can do right now is worry about how you're not being "supermom". Nobody is, really. We all do the best we can with what we've got. The honest ones admit it. (2 kids, 8 and 14.)
posted by jlkr at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2006

Consider that sleeping when you're exhausted is taking care of your baby. Don't battle the baby for your body's energy. I don't know how people work full time while they're pregnant either, but I'm just glad I have the luxury of being at home. You're at the hardest part now. After about 16 weeks you won't feel as tired or as sick. Just take it easy for a couple of months. Work isn't going anywhere.
As for eating, I'm no nutritionist but I'll say that I could hardly eat at 8 weeks either. I mostly drank water and juice, ate rice, and forced down some grilled meat and cheese once in awhile, though it was a big chore. +I ate salty potato chips whenever I felt sick. I know you're supposed to get all the proper foods, but even if I tried I couldn't keep it down. Before long I started getting specific cravings, and I just obeyed them, thinking my body knew better. I'm not going to say it's good for you or the baby to eat like that, because I've read the same advice you have. I'll just say that I did basically the same thing you're doing and now at 7 months the baby is healthy and kicking me so hard I can watch my stomach twitch, and I get super animal cravings like never before, and can eat anything except stinky cheese and eggs. I think it's pretty normal for you to sleep a lot and eat little at this point. Don't beat yourself up.
Work isn't going anywhere, and neither is the housework. And since I've been pregnant and the sight of dirty dishes has made me vomit (early on) or gag (to this day), my husband has been washing. (I swear it's true, this convenient nausea!) Plus he does anything that involves bleach so I don't have to breathe it. Yes, even though I'm home all day while he's out working. He's just that sweet. I do feel a little guilty about it until I decide I'm going to go do it myself and start gagging again, then change my mind. He doesn't seem to mind, though. It's not doing you any good to feel bad about yourself like that, and you have no reason to, so I hope someone here says something to make you feel better!
posted by leapingsheep at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2006

The other thing to remember is how anxiety and stress affects your body. One example of that may be the year that you were trying to conceive - the month that you decided you'd 'take a break,' go off the pre-natal vitamins, and generally not focus on it is the moment your body was receptive enough to conceive. This happens all the time to women - after they go through years of infertility issues, they decide to adopt, go through that process and wind up getting pregnant as well. Stress has very powerful physiological effects and isn't to be ignored.

That's not to say, "chill out, don't worry about anything" or to pooh-pooh your own very real fears, but just to take this opportunity to pay attention to the fear/anxiety cycle as a way of recognizing this process.

Try some breathing exercises (easy and very effective). While you're laying on the couch, for 15 minutes at a time, just focus on witnessing your breathing. Don't try to control it, don't try to manage it, just notice what is happening. Begin to notice where it begins, peaks, ends, and how it feels through the process. This is a form of mindfulness meditation and there are other books and threads on the topic.

As someone mentioned above, you might need to gently recalibrate what it means to be 'productive' while you are 'reproductive'. The words are not far off each other precisely because it *is* work reproducing. If you are resting, getting fluids, sleeping, gently stretching (for your own body's feeling), maybe doing some little breathing exercises, you're taking care of the baby and your family in the best way possible. You're not being lazy, you're being receptive to what your body is telling you it needs at a given moment. That feeling may change as the pregnancy progresses, and it may not - but being mindful, aware, and accepting for what it is might help with the guilt cycle that you're experiencing.

I have many more ideas and thoughts on mindfulness and meditation that I'm happy to share at any point. You're doing great already, and I'm so sure your husband is happy to pick up the slack during this time. You know the feeling that "you just wish you could do something" when something happens to a friend or relative? Like it almost hurts when you don't know what to say/do? You almost wish they'd tell you what they'd want so you can *do something*? Your husband feels that now, most likely. Give him this chance to help you and your family. Good luck with everything - you're already doing a great job! Sorry this is so long.
posted by fionab at 7:42 AM on March 27, 2006

Not much I can add to the already wonderful advice except to say that you are not alone. From a male perspective, you described almost to a T, everything my wife and I went through. You sound like you're doing all the right things.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:56 AM on March 27, 2006

What has been said here is very reasonable. I can offer one piece of advice from an early parenting point of view: set your daily expectations realistically.

The first summer after my daughter was born, both Mrs. Plinth and I were teachers. She was taking a professional development class in the mornings and I was on baby care. I found out quickly that I could do one thing with her in the mornings and one thing while she napped. More than that and it made one or both of us grumpy. Rather than bemoan my inability to get done what I was used to doing on a typical day and feeling bad about it, I instead planned on doing that one thing with my daughter and that one thing while she napped. Once that was done, I had realistic days ahead of me, and I got stuff done and I felt pretty OK about it.

So how does this apply you to you? I would suggest adopting the same approach. Decide what your circumstances will allow and pick a few simple things for yourself to do and do them, give yourself a pat on the back and maybe even write it down.

In deciding what to do, make sure that you also choose something to do for yourself as well. There are always a number of things that need to be done and their need is obvious. One that might not be obvious is your need to treat yourself well. With my daughter, I would go on a "date" with her once a week. This might be as simple as a trip to the park or a breakfast out. While I don't particularly remember the doctor's appointments, shopping, cleaning, and so on, I do have treasured memories of the dates with her.

And kind readers, before you point out that she hasn't had the baby yet, I will reply that the challenge is the same: to get past the immensity of what you can't do and make a choice about what you will do--and to give yourself credit for your accomplishments.
posted by plinth at 8:46 AM on March 27, 2006

First trimester sucks. Mood, eating, sleeping, everything.

Ask your OB if you have any particular questions, but REST ASSURED!!! You will feel better.
posted by jasper411 at 8:50 AM on March 27, 2006

Second plinth. Don't worry about the things you're not doing. Choose one or two small tasks to work on each day, and set yourself a short amount of time, like 10 or 15 minutes, to work on them. Ignore the stuff you didn't do, and concentrate on the 10 minutes of bookkeeping and the 15 minutes of cleaning the kitchen that you accomplished. 15 minutes in the kitchen! That deserves a long nap for sure. Reward yourself for meeting small, achievable goals, and forgive yourself if you fall short. Usually, the good vibes you get from accomplishing one goal, will motivate you forward into doing something else. Start small, and remember that some days will be better than others.
posted by junkbox at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2006

Worrying is worse for you and the baby than anything else. Knock it off :)

You're still in the first trimester. Relax. Pregnancy is -crazy- business. You're building a human inside you.

It does get better. My wife enjoyed the second trimester the most.

Eat when you can and rest often. My grandmother smoke and drank and yet my mother and aunts/uncles all turned out alright. Babies are quite resilient.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 9:22 AM on March 27, 2006

You sound just like my wife during her first trimester. She lived on grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots for two full months. Our baby is five months old now, and she's fine. Doesn't smell like pre-fried potato products or anything.

Besides, from the Dad-to-be point of view, let me say this: We can't understand what you are going through, but we respect it. Don't worry. Rest.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:28 AM on March 27, 2006

It gets much, much easier in the second trimester. Really. I promise. I'm due any day now with my second, and both times the first timester was the hardest part (well, there's labor, but let's ignore that). You'll get your energy and your appetite back soon.

You might want to talk to your doctor about your feelings, however, if you think it's more than the usual first-trimester blahs. Depression during pregnancy is very common, not widely discussed, and easily treated.

The newsgroup is a great source of information and support, by the way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2006

justonegirl, you really push yourself hard and you are an excellent helper to so many people. First trimester is an awful, nauseous, depressive period. To assuage the guilt, simply say thank you to your husband when you think to; when you are feeling decent enough (i.e. NOT while feeling guilty) do what you CAN do.

You are worthy of respect and deserve to be a slouch right now.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:48 AM on March 27, 2006

I lived on Diet Mt. Dew and Starburst fruit chews. Couldn't stand the prenatal vitamins. Had high blood pressure toward the end, but the baby was healthy, if a bit low-weight at 4lbs, 15oz. She's now a happy, healthy 6-yr-old.

Pregnancy is not like the books and definitely not like tv, and DEFINITELY NOT LIKE WHAT your friends have experienced or not experienced. Every pregnancy is different. If you are feeling this worthless now, I suggest you talk to your doctor. You may be at risk for developing post-partum depression, or you may be depressed now. IANAD. I had certain expectations, and when those expectations were not met, I suffered a great deal. I should have consulted my doctor. As a result of my difficulties, I never want to have any more kids. Too traumatic. Pregnancy was the absolute worst experience of my life, not "beautiful" or "miraculous."
posted by cass at 9:53 AM on March 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

A cousin of mine was so nauseated through her first trimester that her doctor put her on intravenous nutrients and anti-nausea meds. Her experience was such that I kind of don't want to get pregnant ever.
So I've never been pregnant and have no first hand advice on that subject, but I do know a little something about nausea. Here's some basic stuff:
1: Do you own a crockpot? Set a roast or a brisket to cook in it, but set it up outside, far from your nose. Once it's cooked put it in the fridge to cool. Warm food=smelly food, and cold food is just easier to keep down.
2: another great way to keep from smelling food is to drink it from something with a cover. Make yourself a smoothie and drink it through a straw from a covered cup.
3: Ensure is surprisingly delicious. Drink it over ice, through a straw
4:What to Eat When You Don't Feel Like Eating is a book designed for use by cancer patients, but could help you ease back on to vegetables. The recipes are mostly very simple and quick.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2006

Oh, and my cousin's kid? Can only be described as an adorable genius.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2006

There is a lot of great advice here. I would like to echo what everyone else has said in terms of giving yourself a break. Despite what the magazines and TV commercials would have you believe, it is natural to feel anxiety over becoming a mother, and it is natural to experience pregnancy as something other than miraculous and incredible. It is totally appropriate for you to be exhausted and worried and unmotivated right now -- I say go with it, and listen to what your body is telling you.

As for the bad mom worries, if you're concerned at all about being a bad mom right now, when the baby's not even here yet, I'd say you're probably not going to be a bad mom. I hear what you're saying, though, and understand how compelling the "bad mom" fear is. Still, I think "bad mom" is a descriptor you can safely stop using to judge yourself right now: there is no reason to be hard on yourself. Try to give yourself permission to relax, to sleep when you need to sleep and eat when you need to eat. I guarantee you that when the baby is actually here, you won't have the luxury of caretaking for yourself the way you can right now, at least in the beginning, anyway. If it's hard to "indulge" yourself in these kinds of things, think of the resting/eating/"laziness" as being good for the baby. What's important, no matter how you frame it for yourself, is that you do what you need to do right now -- and if that means sleep instead of work, so be it.

I'd also ask yourself: what is it, especially, that is worrying you about being a bad mother? I know when I was pregnant, I was terribly anxious about mothering, because I felt I'd only encountered in my own personal life the example of what not to do. I didn't know how to be a psychologically healthy mother, I only knew how to be a crazy mother. This made me concerned, when I was pregnant, about doing things "right" from the beginning -- with my eating, with my workload, with pretty much everything. What I discovered after having the baby, though, was that there are a million ways to do things "right," and that finding my own way through it was just as valid as other people's more natural-seeming (to me) embrace of motherhood.

A few books helped me get through this -- the pregnancy worries, and the identity shift of new motherhood (because that is huge): one is an essay collection called Child of Mine, which includes pieces about pregnancy and new motherhood, and was the first book I read when I was pregnant that really spoke to my own dark fears about this endeavor; another is the excellent Mothering Without a Map, by Kathryn Black, about figuring out how to become a mother when you don't necessarily have a strong role model in that regard. It was my own experience navigating the identity shift of pregnancy and that first year of motherhood that provoked me to write my first book, Mother Shock, about the culture shock of new motherhood. I tried to write about the vulnerability of motherhood, and the worries/fears/dark places many of us experience but don't feel comfortable speaking about in the context of maternity, and I have heard from many women that they found the book comforting to them.

I hope you are able to be kind to yourself -- as a recovering perfectionist, I know how difficult that can be when you have certain expectations. But it's really important, and what you're doing right now, even though it's invisible, is really important. So, by all means, rest, rest, eat, and be kind -- reframe this as not "lazy" but nurturing. You deserve this kindness.
posted by mothershock at 10:20 AM on March 27, 2006

You're not alone, and your situation isn't unique. Lots of women feel like absolute crap in the first trimester. My first pregnancy was AWFUL - morning sickness for 12 weeks, bleeding, cramps, trips to the OB for ultrasounds because of miscarriage scares. The thing about pregnancy and childbirth are that they seem so insignificant after you've had the baby. I'm not trying to trivialize your situation, but help you to realize that you will look back on this as just a small step in the much larger parenthood picture. You will get through this, much faster than you think.

What really helps most of all is to talk to other women who are pregnant, or used to be pregnant. Before long, you'll find yourself in the "club", making connections with fellow women who can give you support and friendship. Try calling your local hospital - many have support groups for pregnant women.

Also, eat what you feel comfortable eating. I mysteriously could eat no meat products and craved dairy (especially ice cream :-) ) through that first pregnancy. As long as you're taking prenatal vitamins, you'll be fine.

Before you know it, you'll be trading labor stories with other moms! Congratulations. I'm still amazed at how wonderful a person I made with that first pregnancy - she became my very best friend.
posted by Flakypastry at 10:22 AM on March 27, 2006

I was a miserable pregnant lady, especially with my firstborn. Couldn't eat, threw up all the time, smells made me nauseous, loud music made me frantic, you name it. I had to quit work at 8 weeks because I couldn't stay awake - would literally fall asleep on my feet. You are doing exactly what you should be right now - sleeping, eating, resting, thinking. This is a good time to read good books, watch good movies, and nourish yourself in any way that you wish - you and your baby (and your husband) will all benefit. Congratulations and good luck!
posted by Lynsey at 11:11 AM on March 27, 2006

The key thing to remember is that at this stage of pregnancy, the baby is tiny. It doesn't need quantity when it comes to food, it needs quality. This is what pregnancy sickness is about. You avoid foods which might cause problems and crave certain foods which are necessary.

So don't worry so much, just as long as you take the vitamins.

When you get to the second trimester and you're eating like a pig you can look back and laugh.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:57 AM on March 27, 2006

From your previous posts, it sounds like you are used to being the (awesome) carer for a lot of people, and quite apart from the phenomenal physical changes you're experiencing, your exhaustion means you've suddenly found yourself cast in a whole new role of the recipient of care rather than the giver, which must be very disorientating. Your feelings that you're doing something 'wrong' are not objective reality, they're a symptom of that change and confusion. I just wanted to cast another vote for the pile which says go easy on yourself, your child-to-be has an awesome mum-to-be . Good luck.
posted by penguin pie at 12:03 PM on March 27, 2006

What everyone else has said, and congratulations. You'll be okay, and how your pregnancy goes has nothing to do with what kind of a mother you'll be. So you don't feel like playing Mozart & math problems to your belly while you juggle, compose an operetta, rescue a Fortune 500 company from bankruptcy and cook a 5 course dinner for 12 visiting heads of state - thank god, you're human. Kick back. Lie on the couch and watch daytime TV, eat saltines, drink soda and doze. IT IS OKAY. YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE FINE AGAIN. REALLY.

Just figure that for the next 8 months, your body is busy and your mind is kind of mushy, but it will all be done eventually. Hang out an Under Construction sign and forgive yourself everything. All I did during my first pregnancy was read every 1920s and 30s British murder mystery I could find, and all I did during my 2nd pregnancy was jigsaw puzzles. Not only did I go to the thrift store, buy jigsaw puzzles in job lots and spend hours doing them but to my undying shame I glued them together when they were done and made them into coffee tables. Pregnancy takes away not only your energy & drive, but also, apparently, your taste.

The best thing about pregnancy is that it ends and when it's over you have this great wonderful small new person in your life and it only takes about 4 weeks before you have totally forgotten that annoying pregnant woman who used to lie on the couch reading Dorothy Sayers and sniffling. You're you again. Really. And it sounds like you are perfectly, utterly, totally normal.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:17 PM on March 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Good advice here, and I just want to echo the bit about throwing out the not, under any circumstances read any of the "what to expect" books. They should really be called "what to feel inferior about" books since they are full of unrealistic expectations.
posted by Biblio at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2006

You are being too hard on yourself. The first trimister IS difficult. You're adjusting both physically and emotionally. It's ok to give yourself the license to rest and to eat what you feel comfortable eating.

It gets better after 12 weeks - hang in there. And congratulations!
posted by Ostara at 12:22 PM on March 27, 2006

You're still my hero.

Holy crap. I read and was impressed by both those threads, didn't realize they were from the same person. You're my hero too.
posted by gsteff at 1:04 PM on March 27, 2006

This is a great thread! I wish I'd read comments like these while I was pregnant with my son; I was buying into the 'perfect pregnancy' myth and failing to understand why I was falling asleep in the middle of conversations. At work. I'm sure my bosses thought I was a tweaker before I finally let my secret out.
Anyway, you'll probably experience a lot of emotional swings during the next nine months, and it's important to realize that a lot of it has to do the changes going on in your body. The second trimester will very likely present an entirely new set of challenges, and, at least in my experience, lack of appetite won't be one of them. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
posted by maryh at 1:42 PM on March 27, 2006

My first term of my first pregnancy knocked me on my ass. I was working in a restaurant at the time and I quit after about a month and a half. I was *so* tired all the time. I couldn't do stuff like walk up and down stairs or carry trays without losing breath; I got nauseated if I smelled certain foods or wore shirts with tight collars; all I wanted to do was sleep and veg out. My body changed dramatically in ways I didn't expect; I grew a cup size in a month and my breasts were sore all the time. I certainly wasn't hungry and I couldn't handle my prenatals - had to take kids' chewables. My first term of my second pregnancy was pretty similar but at least I knew what to expect by then! I'm in the first term of my third now and it's been actually easier than the first two times around but I'm *still* tired, low-energy, "lazy", and doing only the minimum chores most days. Since I have the previous experience to compare it to I know I'm doing great right now.

I will repeat what the other commenters have said: this is normal. You are doing fine. Really! That first term, especially your first time and you don't know what to expect - it can totally throw you for a loop. You're not a bad mother. You're eating what you can when you can. I get horrid junk food cravings when I'm pregnant. (FWIW I have two healthy full-term boys - both almost 9 lbs.) I also get draggy and find it beyond my abilities to cook or clean or move, pretty much, for those first few weeks. I nap a lot. Add one more anecdote to the pile that you have nothing to worry about and you're not doing anything wrong. It does get better (for most women) and the second term is an improvement. Go easier on yourself and get the support you need. It's work to make a new life.

The standards of perfection or this ideal of motherhood we're presented with is just one more huge stress on the dramatic life change of reproducing and parenting. Don't judge yourself by it. No one lives up to it and it would be ridiculous to try because it's not real. Have an idea what you'd like to do as a parent, absolutely, and discuss it with your partner, absolutely! but be prepared to be flexible because you won't know what it's like 'til you're there and things *will* change... as you're finding out now. Good luck and feel better soon!
posted by Melinika at 1:51 PM on March 27, 2006

Justonegirl, I have been there and am still trying to crawl out of that hole at seven plus months. People say it will get better after the first trimester, and that is statistically likely, but you will still not be up to the level that you were before becoming pregnant even if you do feel better. Accept that. Pregnancy affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

What helps:

- Crank down your personal expectations, big time. The more you expect of yourself, and the more perfectionistic you are, the guiltier you will feel and the less likely you will be to do anything at all. It's been said here already, but just let me reiterate: focus on little things. Set itsy bitsy tiny goals for yourself, and let the rest go. Focus on the things you have done and don't even think about everything you haven't. Pat yourself on the back for every prenatal taken, every hour of rest, every crumb you manage to swallow; don't skip the little things by saying they don't count, because they do.

- Ask for and accept all the help you can get. Delegate. Let your supportive husband be just that. By letting him help, you help yourself and your baby. Let him clean, cook, bring you glasses of water, whatever. And let him know how much you appreciate him.

- Simplify and reduce your expectations of the world around you. The house isn't going to be as clean for a while, and it's not the end of the world (not being snarky, I had to tell myself these things all the time). Indulge in pre-made meals and snacks. Do whatever it takes to make things easier on you and your husband.

You are not the lump sum of what you accomplish. Keep remembering that.
posted by moira at 4:19 PM on March 27, 2006

Nope, not a doctor. There are a few critical things you should be doing, like taking a vitamin with folate and not drinking any alcohol.

Your hormones are going nuts, which is throwing your moods badly out of whack. There is a positive correlation between morning sickness and a healthy baby. If you can eat any fruits or veg, that's nice, but you'll be fine on gingerale and soda crackers for a while.

All those articles about pregnancy don't come close to describing how awful pregnancy nausea is. Let your husband take care of you. Once in a while, murmur appreciatively. Talk to your baby and tell him or her how happy you are to be expecting. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 6:13 PM on March 27, 2006

Mrs. Mbrubeck here:
Though I agree that you should probably stay away from the What to Expect books, (they will only reinforce your feelings of inadequacy,) I would highly recommend The Pregnancy Book by the Sears couple. It starts off month two by saying that you will now be feeling nothing but tired and may not be able to eat much of anything. It stresses that you should take a nap every day, because you will want it. Also, that later in pregnancy, when you are feeling better, is the best time to be careful of what you are eating. For now, if you can eat, it's best to stick with whatever you can keep down. I just find the book really reassuring and I think you would too.

Also, it may be easier to eat if you didn't make to food -- can your husband cook up a few big things on the weekend for you both to eat all week? (Or for himself and stick with saltines and ginger ale yourself.)
posted by mbrubeck at 7:20 PM on March 27, 2006

Looks like it's been mostly covered here. My only addition, as a mother to two, is be "lazy" now because it's the last chance you'll get for a good long time. And, right. It's not being lazy because your body is busy building a sweet bundle of snuggles for you that will wake you every hour & a half or so for something to eat after it's born. So yes, rest now...

Congratulations, mama.
posted by susanbeeswax at 9:55 PM on March 27, 2006

Response by poster: I wanted to come back online yesterday but wouldn't you know it, I was sick as a dog. Thank you again to everyone. What an unbelievably kind, supportive group of people. I do feel so much better about myself and really appreciate the time everyone took to cheer up a stranger. Thank you so, so much.
posted by justonegirl at 5:18 AM on March 28, 2006

This is the best chance you have in life to excuse yourself for being lazy! Your hubby should be pampering you. There will be plenty of time for running around and being healthy once the little rugrat comes out.
posted by rikschell at 5:28 AM on March 28, 2006

[Father of two, another on the way]...
This is perfectly normal. Your second trimester will likely be what you were expecting.
posted by kc0dxh at 7:48 AM on March 28, 2006

posted by raedyn at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2006

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