• Alex Rathbun

The truth about pregnancy


If you missed the intro to this series, I recommend you go back and read last week's post so you can better understand the purpose of this post.


If I could describe pregnancy in two words it would be this: mixed feelings.


When we saw on the stick that I was pregnant, Eric and I were excited but hesitant. We weren't sure if it was accurate and we were scared to let ourselves get excited. A few days in, I began to let myself feel the happy feelings, which were met with feelings of anxiety - there was no turning back! We were bringing a baby into this world! Once we told our families, it all felt more real.


And then came the unfortunate symptoms of the infamous first trimester: nausea, migraines, exhaustion. I lied on multiple occasions to avoid social events without spilling the beans. (Sorry!)


In case you were wondering what the first trimester looks like behind the scenes:


About a month into my pregnancy, I met with my PCP. She informed me that I could not be on either of the anxiety medications I was taking. She told me that at one month of pregnancy, the baby could possibly already be harmed and that the medications were very dangerous for him/her. I cried in her office, then escaped quickly to my car where I sobbed, praying that I hadn't effected my baby's brain development without realizing it.


Here's a major pregnancy truth: a lot of people stay on SSRIs while pregnant. Fortunately for me, I asked around and found friends that had done so throughout pregnancy. I then saw a psychiatrist and a different provider who agreed it was best for me to stay on the medication. I could write a whole blog post about this, but I will just say that it was a huge relief. Pregnancy was, of course, a big emotional undertaking, and to go through it without one of the primary tools I use to manage anxiety would have been extremely difficult. The providers in favor of me staying on the medication explained that anxiety and stress are unhelpful for baby's development. Because managing anxiety can often feel like a full-time job, it was very reassuring to know that medically, too, my mental health was not just an aside, but was an important part of being a healthy home for my baby to grow.


On that beautiful day when we finally announced my pregnancy, I felt tons of relief from the weight of keeping a secret. I also felt like suddenly my stomach was on display.



Second trimester realities included: multiple migraines per week, random nose bleeds and gum pain, boobs so big I struggled to find bras and shirts that fit, and of course, impatience to meet my baby but also to find out if I was having a he or a she.


Another pregnancy truth: sometimes it's the reality that people hope for one sex over the other. In hindsight, it doesn't make sense, but I was positively convinced I was growing a girl. My symptoms were different from that of my boy-mom sister. Plus the ring on a string test said I was having a girl. I imagined putting pigtails in her hair and dressing her up in cute clothes. I basically felt at this point that my body was incapable of making a baby boy.


So I went to the ultrasound wearing a pink jacket.


The ultrasound tech wrote down the baby's sex so we could open the note and find out while at brunch after the appointment. I opened the note expecting for it to confirm what I already knew, only to read "it looks like a baby boy." Umm what? I thought it was wrong. And what the heck does "it looks like" mean!?



I am extremely thankful we opened that note in private because it really threw me off. I knew in my head that I was excited regardless of my baby's sex, but it took a few days to honestly and thoroughly adjust my expectations.


After a few days, I realized that the sex of my baby did not automatically determine that much about who he would be and become. His sex doesn't determine his interests, the way I relate to him, his friends, and beyond.


And with that big surprise behind me, pregnancy became fun and exciting. Everyone knew and could see I was pregnant by now. I could feel my boy kicking, a constant reminder of his presence and health. Yes, I had a month long cold that made me pee every time I sneezed (not exaggerating). And of course I slowly became more tired and sore from carrying around a whole basketball belly's worth of uterus and baby and fluids and placenta.


Here are some belly pics along the way:

I worked my way through a rush of photoshoots in the early fall, becoming more sweaty and tired after each one. I ate more watermelon and ice cream. I swam and practiced yoga. I tried on probably 20 dresses for my maternity shoot. I took multiple baths every week. Eric and I took an intensive online birth class. We went on a lot of dates. I obsessed over storage solutions and crib sheets. I was pampered and completely showered with love and gifts and support.


To prep my body for labor, I ate 6 dates daily, drank raspberry leaf tea like it was my job, took evening primrose oil, and did a half hour stretching sequence every day.


And on October 16 I went into labor.

Brightly Alex