You’re tapped out. Emotions are raw and anxiety is high. Your body feels foreign, like it no longer belongs to you. Your mind is cloudy and racing. You want to be grateful for the baby you longed for but really just want out of your body. You have an overwhelming urge to run away.
Days and even weeks like this are normal. It’s okay to be afraid of the changes happening to your body and your life. It’s normal to feel restricted by your hormones and your changing body. It’s not unreasonable to mourn your life as it was before. Pregnancy is a strange purgatory where you may feel like you’re losing yourself. And, actually, you are. You are shedding the you that has been for the you that is a parent to the baby you’re growing. As long as these feelings are not disruptive to your day-to-day life and do not lead to feelings of self-harm, or become something darker like depression, you may just need a little self-care. You are allowed to run away, for a little while.
I once knew a mother of four who jogged over 12 kilometers every day. When I asked her how she got started, she said that one day when her children were small she just wanted to run away. So she did. She put on her sneakers, kissed her husband and children and she ran. She ran away every time she felt the urge.
If actual running isn’t your thing (it certainly isn’t mine), you can run away in a different way. Sometimes we do just need to get away from the constraints of motherhood and expectation. There are so many ways we can just get away, stealing moments for ourselves that fill our empty cups so that we can return home full.
Run away to the coffee shop.
Jump in your car or take a walk to a nearby coffee shop. Enjoy your favourite coffee or tea with a good book. No books about work, no books about pregnancy or parenting or how to be a better wife. Bring a book about something you love, or an adventure to take you away.
Read a book at home.
Find a quiet place if possible—a potentially difficult feat if you already have children at home. Get lost in a fictional tale. If you’re someone who enjoys reading, a good story can help you feel like you’ve had a little escape and spent time with good friends.
Sit on a patio. Alone.
When the weather’s right, order an appy and a virgin cocktail and sit on a patio. If you want a busier scene with lots of people-watching potential, check out the patio at Melrose on 17th Ave. Want something a little more chill? The patio at Salt and Pepper in Inglewood feels like you’re somewhere almost remote.
Go for a drive.
If driving is something you enjoy, take yourself on a little cruise. Feel the wind in your hair with the windows down or the sunroof open. Blast your favourite tunes and relish in the freedom of four wheels and a tank full of gas.
Go parking, solo.
If you’re sick of driving but still not ready to go home, go parking. The 14th Street parking lot at Nose Hill Park has a fabulous view of the city at night.
Find a secret hideaway in nature.
When my family was driving me so far up the wall I was hitting the ceiling, I used to drive out to this little creek. I’d park and sit by the water, skip rocks, reflect on my life and my goals, or just clear my mind and exist in nature. Eventually, I would grow bored and return home feeling completely revitalized. Sandy Beach on the Elbow River would be a great spot to sneak away for an evening in nature—just don’t forget the bug spray!
If sneaking away is unrealistic for you, make sure you’re still scheduling you time. Book a babysitter regularly so you can get away. Go to a class you enjoy. Join a book club. Take yourself on a date. You need you time!
Starting a self-care ritual that incorporates time for just you is an important habit for parents. If you start making a theme of taking time out during pregnancy, it will be easier once your baby is born. Tell any guilt that creeps up to shove it. Sometimes, you just need to run away so you can come home and be your best self. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so taking the time to fill it is an act of love, not selfishness.