The Things That Surprised Me Most About My Pregnancy

Compared to a lot of people I know, I was ahead of the curve when it came to being educated about what pregnancy and birth could look like, even before I got pregnant or was trying to get pregnant. As I noted in my last post, I had been highly skeptical about giving birth for a long time, so I was especially interested in knowing what I was potentially getting myself into and had been learning about pregnancy and birth, particularly how it can unfold in the US, for years before conceiving kid #1. Still, there were of course things I didn’t know about and that surprised me during this pregnancy. Here’s just a few:

1. Just how many changes there are to the physical body, and how extreme these changes can be

I think this one can be hard to truly understand until one feels it in their own body. In particular, I was shocked to realize just how huge my belly would get. I don’t think I really did comprehended this until mid-to-late second trimester.

I also experienced two very immense changes to my body that, of course, don’t happen to every pregnant woman, but are common and I think are under-discussed. These are:

1. (sometimes SUPER intense) restless leg syndrome, and

2. pubic symphysis dysfunction in the third trimester

(More on the pubic symphysis dysfunction later but for now I’ll direct the curious folks here.)

2. Just how many changes I have experienced outside the physical realm of my body

I have already experienced so many shifts in the mental and emotional realms, which has truly come as a surprise to me. This is part of why I say my matrescence began even before this babe was conceived - because my mindset and emotional state was already beginning the evolution.

One example: I have begun to completely question and even let go of many parts of the brand of feminism I have adopted since at least middle school but that was certainly solidified in my college years. My mindset has really evolved from a belief that feminism = females are the same as males and can do everything men can do in the exact same way - to - feminism = females and males do have inherent differences (something I consciously and subconsciously refuted in the past) that are very important, but females and males can still be afforded equal opportunities.

3. Just how many people really do think it’s fine to comment on my body and/or touch my body without asking

This one has truly amazed and truly annoyed me. Mostly the comments - luckily I haven’t had a ton of the unwanted touching. But as a person with a history of body image issues (like most women I know…), it has been very difficult for me to deal with all of the attention on my body and comments about my changing body. Comments like, “Wow, you’re getting big!” aren’t super helpful when you’re already super body aware and have a history of being self-conscious around your weight (and, I’m guessing, might not be super helpful even if that criteria didn’t apply).

Side note: my favorite advice for dealing with unwanted belly-touching during pregnancy is for the pregnant person to also put their hand on the other person’s belly! Cracks me up every time and illustrates to the person just how weird and socially unacceptable that is!

Are you or have you been pregnant? Experienced any of the above? Have some other experience that surprised you? Comment below!


My matrescence began before I even conceived this child. If I’m looking big picture, it may have began years ago, when I first started considering having children…or even further back, when the ability to have children (aka my menstrual cycle) began.

Matrescence (n):

—the process of becoming a mother

—the physical, emotional, psychological transformation one goes through during the transition to motherhood

Those who were at our wedding last year may recall from my vows that, from age 11 to age 21, I often (monthly, weekly?) stated that I did not want children. I also often stated during this decade that I did not want to get married. I was thoroughly convinced of both of these facts and did not expect my mind to be changed, despite how many people told me it would once I “met the right person.” (I always hated that. Patronize much?)

Turns out, I did meet the right person. ;)

I also did a f-ton of work on myself and learned that those avoiding getting married and having kids wasn’t actually my desire, but rather my fears manifesting themselves as loudly as possible.

It turns out, I did want to be a mom. BADLY.

I didn’t fully understand this until sometime during my 23rd year of life, though. I was doing that personal work (counseling, journaling, etc) and I also had a personal incident that served as a catalyst for coming to terms with my heart’s desire to have children.

I first learned of the word matrescence last September. In the months following our wedding, I was slowly but surely consuming more and more media relating to motherhood and came across Dr. Alexandra Sacks’ TED Talk about matrescence. I was fascinated and grateful to hear an authority talking about the complexities of the psychological and emotional experience of becoming a mother. I was already identifying with the concept of a push and pull - wanting to be a mother, but knowing it wasn’t the only thing I wanted, and that I didn’t want to do it the way it has historically and is presently discussed in US culture.

I wanted to be a mom, and I wanted to do it my way.

Our baby wasn’t conceived for another 1.5 months after I first watched that video. But it’s clear to me looking back that I was very ready, and my journey of becoming a mother had already begun.

As I’ve been growing this tiny human inside of me for the last 7.5 months, I have had so many revelations about myself, my dreams for my community, and my worldview. I’ve been feeling called to publish some of them.

Welcome to the Mama Bear Blog.