A friend of mine recently discovered she is pregnant. On the day she found out for sure, she cried. She was bummed. And then, because she is a human woman, she felt guilty for not feeling how she thought she should feel. This baby, this little peanut growing inside of her now, was not planned. She and her husband already have two kids – one girl and one boy. They’re set. This wasn’t the plan.
The first thing I said to her when she confessed all of these feelings – the disappointment, the guilt, the weight of others’ expectations – was this: “You are allowed to feel your feelings. This is your body and your baby. Nobody can tell you how to feel.”
I read a blog post fairly recently written by a parent who tells their child, “Your body, your rules.” I like that. I get to decide what I put on my body, what I put in my body, who touches my body and how, how I feel about my body, what I use it for, what I don’t use it for, etc. Our bodies are the only things that are 100% and essentially and forever ours. Your body, your rules. If you want to feel sad about this crazy and wonderful thing that is happening inside your body, newly pregnant friend of mine, you are allowed. If you want to feel angry about this horrible and terrifying thing that is happening inside your body, newly diagnosed friend of mine, you are allowed. If you want to feel awesome about the gorgeous and strong things happening inside and around and because of your body, plus-sized friend of mine, you are allowed. Your body, your rules.
Additionally and similarly, I like this rule – “Your life, your feelings.” If something big (or small) changes in your life, nobody gets to tell you how you should feel. But might I advise you, friend, as I advised my newly pregnant friend? If what you’re feeling about your body or your life change is negative, don’t get stuck there.
Not long after getting my dog Fred I decided I wanted a second dog so Fred could have a pal. When I finally did get George I took him home and I cried. On the roof of my apartment building with my adorable new puppy and my over the moon excited first puppy, I cried because I realized things were different and they would never be the same as they were pre-George.
This is the story I told my newly pregnant friend, taking care to emphasize pre-story that a puppy is not the same thing as a baby! I told her how I had to take those few moments on the roof to grieve the life that I had with my one dog and acknowledge that that part of my life was nice but that is was over. It’s okay to feel sad when something ends, even if something exciting is beginning. Your body, your rules. Your life, your feelings.
But after the grieving or the sadness or the outrage, we seek joy. We reach for it, we look for it, we surrender to it, we choose it. We take the time we need to cry on the roof, to cry in the kitchen, to look at our beautiful children and realize our time as “family of four” is almost over. We say goodbye and we reminisce. And then we decide to live fully present in the glorious right now. In our bodies and in our lives and in our feelings.