Alex Vance pregnancy month 5

How Pregnancy Pain Impacted My Parenting

I couldn't believe I was at the point in my second pregnancy where it was time to break out the old maternity gear. It was like unboxing a pile of memories as each piece brought me back to the time and place I wore it. One of the most fun parts of my first pregnancy was not knowing what my body was going to do next. I reminisced about the first time I needed to switch from baggy sweatpants to actual maternity pants, excited that I was finally showing a bump that resembled pregnancy and not overindulgence in cheese fries.

During my second pregnancy, however, I knew what was coming—and I was nervous. My first pregnancy brought severe pelvic issues, to the point that I was put on bed rest the last month of my final trimester. My second pregnancy brought the same discomfort, and as my belly grew bigger, so did my concern. How on Earth was I going to keep up with my 2-year-old daughter at the park? Would I still be able to walk her upstairs to her room? I could barely reach down to pick up a toy, much less pick up a kid.

I was in pain. Excruciating pain. I could hear a faint pop in my pelvis as I made my way down the stairs. I needed my husband to put on my shoes and was physically unable to swing one leg over the side of the bed to get up in the morning (which resulted in an awkward, sluggish roll). And that pain impacted my parenting in a number of ways: I couldn't take my daughter on walks, she stayed in her pajamas for most of my third trimester, and I allowed way more tantrums than I'd care to admit.

As the months progressed, my motherly confidence began to fade. I felt like I wasn't there enough for my daughter, who needed a lot of attention during her emotional toddler phase. That's when I learned to do something I wish I would've done more my first time around: cut myself some slack.

Before I decided to stay home, I worked in an office during my first pregnancy. I had tried so hard not to let the pain interfere with my job. Toward the end of my third trimester, I struggled each morning to get dressed and muster up the energy to make it in on time. I sat through meetings with unbearable heartburn, closed my office door to rest my elephant-sized ankles on my desk, and hobbled around the office until my boss essentially forced me to go home.

Being in pain caused me to step back as a parent, but at the same time, made me step up as an expectant mother.

In a conscious effort to learn from my mistakes, I wasn't going to let my stubbornness get in the way my second time around. Being in pain caused me to step back as a parent, but at the same time, made me step up as an expectant mother. I had to do what was best for both my daughter and my baby on the way. The more strain I put on my aching body, the more risk I posed to the tiny human inside it.

It was time for a break. I started to have my daughter help with age-appropriate tasks around the house. My husband started taking her on more Daddy-daughter dates and I started being more open with her about why Mommy couldn't play with her as much. I was as open as possible with my doctor, who monitored my pain, gave me advice, and put me on bed rest when I reached my limit.

Most importantly, I learned not to be so hard on myself. It wasn't physically possible for me to do everything I wanted, which forced me to alter my mindset. Instead of finding fault in myself, I found compassion. I had to remind myself that I'm human! I knew if I was unable to do something with my daughter during pregnancy, I'd make up for it postpartum.

At the end of the day, powering through pregnancy pain is instinctual, but learning when to stop is essential. After all, mothers may be superheroes—but even heroes need saving sometimes.

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By Alex Vance
Alex Vance is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from pregnancy and parenting to health and wellness. She is a former news and features writer for Moms.com and Blog Writer for The HOTH. Her motherhood-related pieces have been published on Scary Mommy, Motherhood Understood, and Thought Catalog.