27 Weeks Pregnant – Exhaustion and Self-Doubt

It seems my pregnant body is being very text book about things. Whereas I felt pretty rubbish inside and out almost the entire time I carried Talitha (from morning sickness to pelvic pain to anxiety) this time around I experienced an incredible lift almost as soon as I’d entered the second trimester. I had more energy and felt stronger than even before I’d conceived. There’s been little discomfort and virtually no pain, which I thank osteopathy for. I felt limitless, joyful, productive, incredibly alive. Much of the time, I kept forgetting that I was pregnant. My skin and hair hadn’t cottoned on that they should be glowing (both have got a bit ratty in this pregnancy) but I finally understood why people call this trimester the best portion of the pregnancy.

Moving into the third trimester, though, feels like I’m being dropped from a great height. It’s as if the same hormones that fuelled feelings of power and elation have turned on me. The exhaustion of the first trimester has returned, except my two-and-half-year-old no longer naps. I suddenly feel fragile. Carrying her up and down the stairs winds me. I’m having to insist that she walk more. I am suddenly conscious of where my belly is. If something startles me in the street, I instinctively grab both Talitha’s hand and my bump. Bending down for things is already getting annoying. But these are all just little things.

Without warning, I have become quick to despair. A simple driving error leaves me crying over the wheel in a parking lot, having taken the irrational leap from “I made a mistake and no one got hurt” to “I can’t do anything. Maybe you would all be better off without me.” All my senses are heightened. All the colours in my world are bright, deep, bold, almost unbearable. When the house is messy, I see failure. I’m not organised enough. She’s growing up in chaos. When my child is bored, I see failure. A better mother would have plans, would create a richer environment. When I look at our bank accounts, I see failure. I should be contributing more. If one of my friends told me that this is what she saw when she looked at herself, failure, I would be quick to tell her what I see, what I’m sure her family sees. I’m even capable of viewing myself with this objectivity. Yet, too often, I feel paralysed by this self-doubt. It all depends on which colour is burning most brightly at the given moment.

27 weeks pregnant

It doesn’t fix things to be told that you’re doing OK (though I do need to hear it) when you just can’t believe it right now. I’ve wondered what would help. An unexpected answer came to me this morning: “You are a failure. That’s OK.” I’ve been busy making plans over the Christmas season. The gift list is set, the cards bought, the calendar is being booked, our Advent plans are in place. Without meaning to – in fact, in spite of insisting that I wouldn’t – I’ve let a sanitised, gutted version of the Christmas message prevail in my imagination. It’s one where angels are cute, baby-like creatures whom no one would fear and where the season’s focus is to have as nice a time as possible, sprinkled with nice words that have been repeated so many times we’ve forgotten what they really mean. Words like “peace”, “hope” and “love”. I know you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this so please bear with me.

It suddenly hit me this morning that the event we’re preparing to celebrate is far removed from all of this. That God is not in the habit of choosing perfect people and ideal situations. That Jesus was conceived under embarrassing circumstances and born into an environment of poverty, violence and scandal. That if God could choose Mary, He could choose me. That I don’t need to be perfect, to tick every box in my to-do list, to even be sorted in order to be enough.

That doesn’t mean I won’t despair some time tomorrow. But, hopefully, it gives me yet another reminder that I don’t need to stay there.


15 Comments

  1. Samera
    November 25, 2013 / 1:37 pm

    Oh your post has made me feel so much better- I thought maybe its just psychological but I feel like my body is falling apart at the moment. I can’t cook a meal without having to have numerous sit downs in the process. I queued up for ten minutes in the shop yesterday and my back was killing me by the time I got out! But it’s good to know that this is not too strange, especially while looking after a toddler. We will make it – race you to the finish line 😉

    • November 25, 2013 / 1:48 pm

      Sorry you’re feeling horrible. Any osteopaths over where you are? Yes, toddlers are tiring on their own, throw in crazy pregnancy stuff and no wonder we’re feeling so drab! And past experience tells me you’ll get to the finish line and my pregnancy will keep going and going and going! 🙂

  2. Sam
    November 26, 2013 / 9:26 am

    Great post.. It reminded me where I was and that in the moment life can feel hard and that your a failure and worst mother/ wife in the world. But as you say when put into perspective , it isn’t as bad as that.. And yes hearing your doing ok is nice but doesn’t fix it.. Take time for yourself, try not to expect too much and have too high expectations on yourself. T is wonderful and you are doing brilliant.. If you ever want a cuppa or somewhere different to be give me a shout.. Sam Matthews ( seb and ebony-Rose’s mum.)

  3. November 26, 2013 / 10:29 am

    I really struggled with my third trimester this time, I was SO exhausted, even more so than after a bad night since J has been born and towards the end all I did was take Cherry for a daily trip to the supermarket to buy a cheap DVD then doze on the sofa whilst she watched it on repeat. I also had horrible mood swings and felt pretty depressed throughout this pregnancy too. And the bending down is a nightmare! I tried not to moan as pregnancy is a gift but I didn’t enjoy it much at all, although I will no doubt want to do it again one day! xx
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    • November 27, 2013 / 12:32 am

      Great to hear someone else has been here. I wouldn’t have guessed since all your pregnancy updates I remember seemed to be so upbeat!

  4. angela
    November 26, 2013 / 10:43 am

    I think Talitha will be incredible when the new bundle comes. And you’ll see that you’ve raised a very generous, loving and intelligent being.
    The new baby will be surrounded with such caring parents and sister and family that you’ll forget feeling so rubbish.
    Just do anything to get over it, Talitha will understand that your poor body isn’t up to scratch right now!

    Hope you feel better! Xx

    • November 27, 2013 / 12:31 am

      Thank you for the kind words, honey. Trying give my body and mind a break.

  5. Pippa
    November 26, 2013 / 1:25 pm

    This is beautiful Adele. Your flaws are beautiful. Sending you love to soothe that self critical voice in your head. You are doing OK. You are doing perfectly. You are 100% the right mother for both your children. And for you. xx

    • November 27, 2013 / 12:32 am

      Thank you, Pippa. I know that’s a message you feel passionately about too.

  6. November 26, 2013 / 4:42 pm

    Hi Adele,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling this way, but perhaps it may help to hear that what you’re experiencing is normal? Your hormones are doing a great job of maintaining your baby and your pregnant body and reminding you that climbing stairs and carrying heavy loads are things that are perhaps not so important…. However, these hormones can leave a mum AND mum-to-be teary and weary. It’s okay to feel like this, it’s okay to doubt. If we didn’t doubt we wouldn’t be human. And yes, as you said, imperfect is just fine. In fact, it’s beautiful.

    Sending you much love x

    • November 27, 2013 / 12:33 am

      Yes, I think I do lose sight of the fact that it’s normal so that is helpful. Thanks for saying all this.

  7. November 27, 2013 / 9:31 pm

    Ah that’s a lovely post. It is exhausting and emotional. My daughter was the same age when I was in my third trimester with my son and what you describe is so familiar to me. A day at a time is the only way to take it, and keep being your own best friend 🙂
    Helen Wills recently posted..Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: Wot so Funee?

  8. Emma
    November 30, 2013 / 2:44 pm

    I’m on the blaming hormones side of things.. They really have so much to answer for! I know what you mean by that natural instinct to protect bump, have found myself wanting to protect it so much, more so then in previous pregnancies. Like I know she’s my last, she’s the final dot to our circle. I’m starting to slip into wanting her to be her now where I can physically see her and hold her. Again a new pregnancy experience for me, have never felt that way before.

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