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I have been pregnant for a grand total of seven times — and given birth to five babies — and I’m about to let you in on a little secret: I hated being pregnant every single time.

And no, I don’t mean in a little “tee-hee-hee, isn’t pregnancy so hard?” way. I mean like, in a I-feel-like-I-can’t-stand-one-more-minute-in-my-own-skin and was-so-miserable-I-cried-almost-every-day kind of way.

Pregnancy can be hard, but when you hate being pregnant, it definitely comes with its own unique set of challenges. So let’s talk about it, shall we?

First things first — if you hate being pregnant, just know that you’re not alone. So many pregnant people, myself included, struggle with the challenges that being pregnant can bring. I can think of 1,001 different reasons why you might struggle with pregnancy. To name a few:

The physical stuff

This one is the most obvious, but it’s nothing to dismiss. The physical aspects of being pregnant, from the first trimester fog to hyperemesis to vulvar varicose veins to the discomfort of the third trimester, all affect us differently.

Some people sail through pregnancy with nary a swollen ankle, but then others of us (cough, cough) get swollen everywhere and need 10 minutes of pep talk before they can even attempt rolling over in bed.

During my first pregnancy, I lost 15 pounds from puking so much, and by my last pregnancy, I would cry when it was bedtime because I knew it was another long night of not sleeping and trying to get comfortable. The physical aspects of pregnancy are no joke.

And it’s not just the discomfort. For some people, suddenly sharing their body comes with unexpected emotional effects. Necessary weight gain, a changing shape, and the notion that you no longer belong entirely to yourself can be a lot to handle for many, and it can bring up some complicated feelings.

You’ve had a prior loss

Every single minute of my pregnancy that I carried to term after experiencing two losses felt excruciatingly hard. It was an enormously difficult mental and emotional journey for me, and that definitely played out physically.

For me, pregnancy after loss was such a fearful time that I couldn’t enjoy it at all.

You didn’t exactly plan this pregnancy

Yup, been there. I know all too well the feeling of frustration when morning sickness hits and your clothes don’t fit again at a time in your life that feels most inopportune. Even a planned, desired pregnancy is a big emotional shift, so an unplanned pregnancy can bring some major feelings.

Guess what? You’re allowed to feel all the feels. You’re human, even if you’re growing a human, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person.

You just don’t like it

Well, look at that. Turns out, you don’t need any specific reason to dislike pregnancy. Some people just don’t enjoy the experience of pregnancy, and it’s as simple as that.

If you are one of the chosen few who have realized that you hate being pregnant, I have some advice for you on how to get through:

Find yourself another miserable pregnant person, online or IRL

Realizing that you are not alone can be incredibly helpful. If you feel like you are surrounded by blissfully happy, glowing pregnant people, find yourself a pregnant person who is miserable, because I assure you, they are out there.

Commiserate in your misery together, and then move onto the next action step:

Remind yourself that hating pregnancy does not equal being a bad parent

Hating pregnancy does not mean you will hate being a parent or that you somehow love your baby any less. It doesn’t mean you’re not grateful to be pregnant or that you don’t love your kids.

It just means you don’t love being pregnant. Love of pregnancy and love for your children are not correlated, I promise.

Realize you can still be grateful for being pregnant

It’s incredibly important to realize that hating pregnancy does not mean that you don’t understand the enormous privilege it is to get — and stay — pregnant.

There is a 5-year gap between my two youngest daughters, during which time I lost two pregnancies to miscarriage and obsessed constantly about getting pregnant again.

I’ve been through the monthly hope-and-pray, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on pregnancy tests, and I’ve been that woman who feels a bitter jealousy so strong it has scared me when seeing pregnant bellies at the store.

I longed to be pregnant for many years, but it didn’t change the fact that when I continued through a pregnancy after my losses, it was challenging on every single level.

My last pregnancy felt like an uphill battle, mentally, emotionally, and physically from the moment she was conceived all the way up until what ended up being a bit of a traumatic birth.

So trust me when I say, from firsthand experience, that it is very, very possible to hate being pregnant while rejoicing for the opportunity to be pregnant, all at the same time.

There are no rules here, people, so don’t get caught up in thinking you “should” or “have to” feel a certain way. You’re allowed to have conflicting feelings, all at once.

Get maternity photos taken

Yes, I’m serious. You will thank for me this one, no matter how miserable you feel right now, because one day, you will look back on those photos and realize what a beautiful journey parenting and pregnancy was.

Today, as I have (probably) passed my season of being the pregnant one, I keep a picture of myself very pregnant with my last baby on my office shelf.

My preteen teases me for it, because I bought a fancy dress — well, as fancy as Amazon Prime gets, at least — for the occasion and tried my best to follow the photographer’s instruction to appear like a pregnancy goddess in a field at sunset instead of the sweaty heifer who actually had her dress on backwards (true story) that I felt like.

But I keep that picture not because I think I look beautiful or to admire how well the photographer disguised my double chin I keep it to remind myself that I made it. Despite how hard pregnancy was for me, despite how much I struggled through my miscarriages, despite how it felt like some days, every single step was a struggle, I did it.

I made it through and I have five beautiful, incredible children to show for it. I kept going, even when it felt impossible, and the end result was so, so worth it. I keep that picture to remind myself that I am capable of going through hard things and that I will make it through.

I keep that picture to remind myself that even when I felt my worst, even when I felt like I couldn’t possibly make it through another minute of pregnancy, and even when I was too big to even fit into a dress without wearing it backwards — pregnancy really is a beautiful gift.

Even when you hate every single minute of it.