From the high highs (getting the positive test) to the low lows (living on the bathroom floor for months) and the endless emotional, physical and hormonal changes, pregnancy has been a wildly humbling experience that has challenged my ego.
I’ve been faced with fear surrounding my career. How will taking a pause impact what I’ve worked so hard for? How will I manage it all when it’s time to go back to work? How does being a mom fit into my personal brand – will my following accept this new version of me? Etc.
And when I wasn’t busy worrying about my career, I was working through hard emotional challenges that arose which I wasn’t anticipating. Things that perhaps always bothered me but flared up because when entering into motherhood, it’s only natural to reflect on your childhood, which for me, brought on anger and resentment. How could my dad walk out on us? Why didn’t I see a familiar family face in the crowd when performing as the lead in every school play or after I scored the winning goal or competed in a national debate? How could anyone have children and not live up to their responsibility as parents?
Then of course there were the lifestyle changes. Changing my extremely healthy, no dairy, no meat, gluten-free, wellness-obsessed ways to ensure the health of this child. Including adjusting my workout regimen. Both changes in which didn’t exactly boost my confidence, especially in the days where I simply felt/looked bigger but wasn’t sharing the news. As my ass flattened, arms expanded, belly grew and cellulite appeared, the morning sickness was at an all time high which made getting to the gym most days and eating anything but carbs just about impossible. I felt big and lazy and helpless and was only getting bigger and there wasn’t much I could do about it. And beyond my healthy obsessions, my social life suffered. I wasn’t “out on the blog scene” or partying with my girlfriends – all of which was plastered all over social media 24 hours a day which gave me major FOMO.
And lastly, there are the fears of motherhood itself. Am I capable? Will I be good at this? Will I like being a mom? Will I raise a good human? What if I don’t bond with the baby? Etc.
All of this coupled with the rest of life’s challenges and all of the parenting advice projected onto me every single day forced me to look deep inside, work through the hard stuff and most importantly, ditch my ego. Here is how I did this – or attempted it:
Accept, submit & embrace
Accepting that I was pregnant, something I was extremely excited about, meant that I needed to not only give in to what being pregnant would require of me, but also to fully embrace it. This felt like the real first step of motherhood as it meant I could no longer be self indulgent (a perfectly acceptable reality for someone without kids IMO!). I needed to make changes and embrace the new path I was on, one that was now focused on the health, happiness and safety of the little human I would be bringing into this life.
For example, I had to accept that my desire to be extremely healthy/fit wasn’t realistic for this pregnancy and once I did, I submitted to the new version of healthy/fit, the pregnancy version. Submitting and diving into the changes allowed me to embrace the new normal. Same went for my career, friendships, nightlife, etc.
Surrender the need for control
The need to control is often the work of your ego and once you understand that you don’t have the power to control, it’s quite liberating. This has been a big lesson throughout my pregnancy journey. From trying to get pregnant, to dealing with complications and a body that has the wisdom to do its thing without my consciousness, I’ve been reminded time and time again how little is truly in my control.
Forgive and let go
Harnessing the burden of the past doesn’t serve anyone, myself included. To free myself from the burden I had to look deep within to forgive and let go. This doesn’t mean that I called people to forgive them (although I did have it out with my mom a few times) but instead, I worked through my feelings, chose forgiveness, and instead of holding onto anger, I chose to appreciate the lessons I’ve learned which ultimately helped shape who I am. This, of course, is easier said than done, but spoken from experience, it is achievable.
Overcome the need to be better
I’ve always been a perfectionist which has served me well, but the need to constantly be better – more fit, more successful, etc. – is ego driven. Pregnancy has forced me to ease up on myself, let go of the perfectionism and be happy with exactly where I am right this very moment.
For example, instead of focusing on what company to build next (I left the company I built and sold after ten years this past April), I forced myself to take a pause and not dive into something knew. I chose to lead from my heart and not my ego on this one and I’m so grateful that I did.
Deepak Chopra says that when we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.
One of the ways I like to practice gratitude while pregnant is by thanking my body for knowing how to, and for allowing me to, carry this baby. It’s humbling to appreciate the wisdom in our DNA.
Listening to my body, my mind and other people has been a big theme during pregnancy and one that has allowed me to ditch my ego.
For example, I listened to what my body needed and adjusted my health obsessions. I listened to what my mind was struggling with emotionally and dealt with the issues, and last but not least, I’ve listened to every single man and women who shared their solicited, and unsolicited, advice about parenting, motherhood, birthing, etc. with patience.
I’m certainly not ego free, but this pregnancy has forced me to check myself and ultimately grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined. And the next chapter, the chapter of motherhood, I’m sure will be an even bigger test with greater personal strides made. And that, I’m really excited for!