Pregnancy Emotions & Saudade

Pregnancy comes with tons of stereotypes such as mad, midnight cravings for pickles and ice cream or emotional highs and lows brought on by raging hormones. Going into pregnancy, I completely expected to live up to both of those stereotypes and then some!

As a self-proclaimed “crier” I thought these last nine months would be the most teary of my life. Just to give you an indication of how emotional non-pregnant Holly can be, I once teared up during a television commercial for cotton (it was just so touching!). Yup, just about anything can get those waterworks started.

What has really surprised me, though, is that I’ve hardly cried at all during pregnancy. Sure, there’s been the occasional extremely emotional, fleeting moment (like while listening to One Direction in the car) or the minor breakdown here and there, but those aren’t out of the norm for me especially given the circumstances.

On the whole, though, I’ve been pretty even keel and emotionally relaxed during pregnancy. In fact, the only emotion that I’ve felt very strongly this pregnancy has been a nostalgic longing. I went through a period of just aching for times past, especially my teenage years. I’d sit on the train during my commute and feel what it was like to be in highschool again — to drive my old car, to wear my old clothes, to be in love at that age. I could picture scenes from my life at that time, taste milkshakes I’d had on the way to school, smell my friend’s chapstick, remember the way my car handled on country roads. It was all so vivid and something about never being able to go back to that just broke my heart.

I’ve never experienced this type of nostalgia with such strength and rawness and had certainly never heard anyone else speak about feeling this before. I didn’t even quite know how to understand it or what to do with those emotions until a friend of mine posted a quote and link to an article on Facebook that finally gave these feelings a voice. The quote from the article was this:

“But here’s what Older Self will not have the heart to say: some of the music you are now listening to — the CDs you play while you stare out the window and think about the five million different ways your life might go — will be unbearable to listen to in twenty years. They will be unbearable not because they will sound dated and trite but because they will sound like the lining of your soul. They will take you straight back to the place you were in when you felt that anything could happen at any time, that your life was a huge room with a thousand doors, that your future was not only infinite but also elastic. They will be unbearable because they will remind you that at least half of the things you once planned for your future are now in the past and others got reabsorbed into your imagination before you could even think about acting on them. It will be as though you’d never thought of them in the first place, as if they were never meant to be anything more than passing thoughts you had while playing your stereo at night.”

When I read that quote I thought, “I know exactly how that feels. This is part of how I feel!”

Linking into the article, I read more and learned the Portuguese word saudade. The word has no English equivalent but it describes (per wikipedia) “a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing may never return.” That’s exactly what I was feeling!

I love the way life works. Of all the things I anticipated in pregnancy, I would never had guessed that I would discover in myself a brand new emotion and then learn an entire culture already has a word for it.

For me, these feelings seem to be my way of acknowledging and coming to peace with all of the life changes that are about to happen. By embarking on this journey to parenthood, we’ve closed an infinite number of doors of what could be and opened just as many of what may be still to come. It’s also extremely thrilling (and humbling) to know that all of those things I’m longing for in my past are awaiting my daughter for her to experience for the first time in a few years. Life is just incredible!

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