Why I Burst into Tears on Christmas Eve... and What I Did Next
It’s 1pm on Christmas day, and I’m on the couch. For a “fitness influencer” who makes it a point to profess a “get up and go” attitude every day, this is actually really hard for me. Granted, I got up at 6am this morning and did SoulCycle, but since that wonderful Christmas morning sweat and the ensuing post-ride shower, I’ve been holed up on the couch in no make-up and sweatpants… and we’re supposed to leave for George’s mom’s house in 30 minutes.
We also spent the day at his Mom’s house yesterday for Christmas Eve, which was absolutely lovely… but physically, I felt like crap. When you’re pregnant and don’t feel well, people ask you “what’s wrong?” as if there’s some sort of answer other than… “um, there’s a giant, bulbous growth in my abdomen, and it is making me feel like a beached whale and also potentially like my back and maybe my vagina is going to break in half at any moment.” But thanks for asking.
I was grateful for the chance to spend yesterday at his mom’s with family, but in all transparency, the thought of going back for a follow-up hang sounded really exhausting. It had nothing to do with them… just with me and my energy level, which I could feel was running on empty.
I am a “push through” kind of gal. Can you relate? The funny thing is, I have the world’s most supportive, understanding husband, and he is the first to say “babe, stay home and rest,” but for some reason this makes me feel even worse about entertaining the option.
He actually suggested it yesterday prior to leaving for our destination, and I gave my obligatory “it’s ok, I’ll be fine,” as I zippered up my maternity coat over my swollen-feeling baby bump. And then I started to cry.
Second time pregnancy is a trip…. It’s like every pregnancy symptom I had the first time around came back, but on steroids! The first trimester nausea and exhaustion, and now the second trimester general “bigness” … that feeling as the day wears on that your stomach might actually explode as it bloats and grows (fellow mamas, you know what I’m talkin’ about!).
As the tears rolled down my face, I picked up my purse, took my pre-schooler’s hand, and marched to the car.
No one was making me go but myself. I cried all the way there, with George gently wiping my tears and asking what he could do. Did I want him to drive me home? Did I want to get an Uber back once we arrived? Maybe I could lay down in the backseat of our car while they ate and exchanged presents?
I answered no to all, and removed my compact from my bag to powder under my eyes, which were now wet and red. I pulled myself together, and I spent the next 4 hours being a good wife and enjoying Christmas Eve, trying not to focus on my discomfort.
Fast-forward to today: George was helping get Mason ready, while meanwhile - on the couch - my anxiety level over having to put on actual clothes and be “on” was rising. So I took a deep breath, raised my head, and said: “NO.”
It was a gentle NO. It sounded like “ya know what babe? I really feel like my body needs to rest.” It was a respectful no. An honest no. I delivered it, and waited for the response… from George, but also from myself.
See, I knew George would be understanding. The one I have to battle with is ME. My immediate feelings of guilt and not-good-enough-ness. My feelings of failure and of being perceived as selfish or lazy. All that baggage comes with a single word: NO.
But you know what? The world didn’t end. I set a healthy boundary, committed to taking care of myself (and writing this blog post!) for the afternoon, and officially “moved on” in my head. I didn’t waffle back and forth 100 times on what I should do. I checked my intentions (to make sure I was genuinely in need of rest and not just feeling home-for-the-holiday lethargy) and committed to a decision that was best for my mind/body/spirit. And that was that. It might not seem like a big deal, but for a people-pleaser with insecurities about ever “slowing down” it was a huge win.
I share this as a reminder to simply take a step back from time to time and assess your self-care practices. Sometimes I feel like self-care is just another thing on my to-do list, usually vanity driven: schedule a facial, get a mani/pedi, have a sports massage to work out kinks so you can workout harder. But what about scheduling time to sit in sweats and write a blog post, read a chapter in a spiritual or self-help book, or simply make a bowl of hearty vegetable soup with a side of avocado toast and eat it slowly, enjoying each bite (hint hint: I may have just finished this activity).
The hardest thing to do for type-A people is to slow down, but if we go at a Tasmanian Devil’s pace non-stop forever, we’ll burn out. And if we try to do it while 6 months pregnant…. we’ll end up bursting into tears on Christmas Eve like a lunatic.
I’d like to offer you PERMISSION to take some time for yourself this week. I hope you’ll take me up on it.