So many of us have landed in this unusual, unexpected and terrifying place. Some are in their first trimester, terrified of having a suppressed immune system during this. Some are nurses and bankers and grocery store workers still reporting to work. Many are going to OB appointments alone, cancelling gender reveal parties and baby showers, doing all their long-awaited shopping online. Some are delivering a baby in the midst of this, unable to have their mom, dad, sister and support systems present. None of this is in the “what to expect” books. None of this is normal.
You know what makes it worse? Shamers who are NOT pregnant during this, telling us what we can and can’t grieve, because we should just be “grateful.” I’m here to tell you that you can be grateful for your baby on the way and still grieve all the things we are missing out on. You can be grateful and still angry that we had these joys taken from us or altered. Nobody has the right to tell you how you should be handling this and how you should be feeling during this unanticipated obstacle of your pregnancy.
As a bit of comfort, however, I’m also here to remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There’s something comforting about being scared and unsure with other unsure and scared people. It’s like walking into class on the day of a massive test, and having everyone else tell you they didn’t study and are going to bomb the test too. It doesn’t change the fact that you are going to bomb that test, but it’s oddly comforting to know there’s a group of you feeling the same. We are here, we are scared and uneasy, and we are an untapped army of support for each other. Let’s have open, honest and real conversations and be there for each other.
My husband and I have been working from home for a few weeks now. We just closed on our first house a little less than two weeks ago. So, I was stressed before all this started. Being an attorney can be stressful. Working full-time in a professional career while physically uncomfortable, emotional, hangry and sleepy can be stressful. Buying a house for the first time is stressful. Packing and moving is stressful. Pregnancy on its own is stressful. Having an anxiety/panic disorder on top of all this (and being unmedicated due to pregnancy) is what you would think would be the cherry on top. BUT NO – NOW let’s throw in the plot twist of a damn unprecedented worldwide pandemic and you have the perfect recipe for a complete mental breakdown.
That being said, I’ve been focusing SUPER hard on what is helping me through this and what is not. I’m no expert here – just an anxious pregnant lady learning by trial and error – but I think some of these tips will work for you too.
Okay – hear me out. I don’t care if this is the best psychological way to technically deal with this. All I know is this is helping me. Keeping moving and busy. Keeping my mind focused on anything other than the negatives. Netflix, podcasts, reading (all e-books and audiobooks are obtainable from your couch – no excuses), cleaning, housework, pinteresting, creating/editing your online baby registry, adult coloring books, board games, cooking new recipes, online shopping (for baby, for nursery, for yourself…), blogging, creating, starting that side hustle you’ve always talked about – KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY. Downtime just sitting and thinking can lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and soon, you feel the walls closing in. It’s okay to set time aside to think about what’s going on and to watch the news/scroll twitter and facebook for updates, but you don’t need to fill your day with it. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Check these out:
Limit News Intake
This stems from where the previous section left off. In the beginning of this, I was spending ALL DAY – I’m not kidding – all day, every day scrolling and refreshing twitter and facebook with the news on in the background just soaking up every bit of chaos there was to soak up. After this became noticeably unproductive and unhealthy, and I was catching my anxiety spiking while reading, I realized I needed to limit my intake. It was hard at first because I felt like if I wasn’t refreshing my twitter feed constantly, I would miss out on the latest social distancing recommendations and the latest political press briefing (a weird FOMO). To my surprise, limiting my exposure did not lead to the world ending. Some days I will watch the president’s and governor’s press briefings, other days I will catch the recaps of the briefings on twitter or from my husband and mom. If I notice a certain person on my facebook feed is posting things about Covid-19 that aren’t helping my anxiety, I mute them. If I notice I’m reading tweets and my anxiety starts spiking, I close out. If I am having a conversation with someone about Covid-19 and it’s not beneficial to my mind, I cut it short. Protect your mind and well-being unapologetically. Limit your news intake to what is necessary to stay informed.
Gratitude Journaling and Meditation
I used to write in a gratitude journal a couple years ago but haven’t since. I originally started when I read Rachel Hollis’ books – Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing. Unfortunately, I struggle with being a morning person so that morning practice slowly faded out of my life. I was inspired by other women on instagram (it can actually be a good thing sometimes) to pick up gratitude journaling again during this crazy time.
You don’t need a fancy gratitude journal to do this. I made Matt do it this morning with me and gave him a notebook and told him what to journal based on my gratitude journal’s guides. Do this first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee and some meditation, massage, ocean waves or nature sounds in the background (Spotify has unlimited options).
- Three things you are grateful for today. Get detailed!
- Someone you are grateful for today:
- Today I am: (perfect for feelings or manifestations!) “Today I am strong, invincible, powerful…” “Today I am stressed, but optimistic…”
- Three goals or intentions for today:
If you want to order your own guided gratitude journal, check these out:
If meditation is more up your alley, check out this post on the 15 Best Meditation and Mindfulness Apps for 2020.
Give Yourself Grace re: Productivity
I added these screenshots because they are IMPORTANT. If you are working from home and you feel stressed that you aren’t being productive enough or you’re finding it hard to focus – give yourself grace. We were abruptly uprooted from our daily routines and are learning to adapt to a new way of life in a scary time and are expected to not miss a beat with our jobs. Be patient with yourself, do your best, and remember the above!
Also important – stop comparing yourself to the bloggers on instagram who seem to be living their most glamorous lives during this. Their job and source of income is literally based on posting and promoting a glamorous daily lifestyle. We could all achieve that too, if we were being paid mass loads of money to post on instagram. We aren’t. Don’t feel inadequate for getting through your day without doing pilates and making a picture-perfect whipped coffee drink for instagram.
Take a Walk!
The best thing I’ve incorporated into our daily routine is a walk around the neighborhood first thing when we get up (observing social distancing of course!) We live in a neighborhood now full of kids and families, and there’s something comforting about seeing everyone else at home, kids out riding their bikes and drawing with chalk, dads playing basketball with their kids. Take it all in. It restores a sense of normalcy.
While out – watch for decorated windows and doors and chalk messages on the sidewalks! We have a lot of #hearthunt participants in our neighborhood where people are posting colorful hearts on their doors, some naming people they are thankful for in these times, like nurses, teachers, first responders, etc.
Create a Pregnant Mama Support Squad
If you don’t already have a few other pregnant mamas you can talk and vent to, find them! If there’s someone from high school who is also pregnant right now, but you haven’t talked in years, reach out! Ask them how they are doing and form your own little web of pregnant mama support. You may have a great support system already, but there’s something special about having women to talk to who are going through this at the same time as you. If you don’t know anyone pregnant – I’m here! Message me!
If you are a pregnant or new mama right now – comment below with what’s helping you cope through this!