Continuing on with our exploration of the power in our transforming bodies through pregnancy, we bring you Nikki's story.
Nikki is in her mid-30s and is currently in the third trimester of her second pregnancy. In addition to being fully engaged in motherhood, Nikki is an entrepreneur, speaker, and mentor whose work in organizational development and social impact lies at the intersection of ecology, economy, and social equity.
She is also a senior advisor to Jumpscale, a company that helps investors and philanthropists improve the overall well-being of their investments and organizations through a comprehensive approach.
On the weekends, you’ll find Nikki going on creative adventures with her firstborn son and her husband. Read on to hear Nikki’s story of the transforming power in her body.
1. Were you mentally and emotionally prepared for the bodily transformation awaiting you before you became pregnant?
I struggled for a long time to get pregnant. When you have fertility issues, mental and emotional preparation is a different sort of ballgame. It took us four and a half years before getting pregnant with our son. I was grieving during this time, spending tons of money trying to bring a child into the world. Because I struggled so long, once I became pregnant I didn’t believe in a positive pregnancy. The pain of loss was great. I wasn’t expecting that I would carry this child to term. My fertility coach challenged me and said, ‘you’ve been in grief for a long time, but don’t not accept your child because you are still in grief.’
This second time around, I expected that I would struggle again to become pregnant. To my surprise, once we started trying, I became pregnant the first time! It was only supposed to be the practice round but it became real! What’s amazing is that this moment was right when the shelter-in-place started and everything was shutting down. It was synchronicity that this was the cycle the girl inside me wanted to make her entrance.
2. Do you remember the moment that you began to notice your body changing?
During my first pregnancy, I noticed every single sensation. I was such a diva - the job of the first pregnancy is to let you own your inner diva. Because you don’t have another little person to take care of, I completely embraced every single sensation, from nausea to not being able to tie my shoe and expecting others to dote on me.
This second time around, I’m in a different place. I have a toddler, I’m the breadwinner and I’m having to navigate all of this in the middle of a pandemic and fires in my state. I’m not in optimal health but I’m trying to prioritize bodywork. While I’m aware of my body and what is happening, I feel like these other responsibilities are holding my attention hostage.
3. What were your fears related to pregnancy and your body changing? Was there any part you were excited about experiencing?
I remember thinking before I was pregnant - am I about to be fat for the rest of my life? After my first, I had to come to terms with holding onto most of the weight until breastfeeding. In some cases our bodies are working much harder to produce the baby’s food, so sometimes the weight doesn’t fall off right after. It was uncomfortable for me to be a steady 30 pounds heavier longer than expected. I’ve now channeled this into a positive body image thanks to Cardi B. I’m ok with being ‘thick sexy’ so long as I retain that hourglass figure!
4. Let’s talk about stretch marks. Did you have them? If so, how did that impact your view of your body, your skin, yourself?
I think there are compromises you make along the pregnancy. Certain body changes, like stretch marks, I can get comfortable with. Others, like having six to seven layers of my abdominal structure spread over my body after having a C-section, are much more difficult to accept. There is little you can do to fix this permanent alteration. After this second pregnancy I will do the natural work to repair my abdominal muscles, but the C-section flap I may consider surgery to correct.
5. How did your understanding of self care evolve as you went through this experience?
Part of my postpartum experience was self inflicted because I didn’t have a good understanding of what I needed to ask for. I didn’t know how to create more space. Touch was a big deal after my first pregnancy. I carried my son all the time - we were doing skin-to-skin constantly, during naps and all. It got to a point where he wouldn’t fall asleep unless someone was holding and moving with him. Touch went through a psychological shift for me because all of a sudden, none of it is for you. It becomes one directional and everything is being taken from you. EVERYTHING. I felt alone and went into a very dark place because of this. The place I put myself in postpartum was not okay.
This second pregnancy, I have much more hope. I will be practicing respectful parenting and teaching boundaries as a good thing. I have a wonderful support system around me. The mother doesn’t have to be the primary caregiver. So this time, baby girl will be napping in a bassinet for a few hours a day. And other people in my community will be able to bond with her. I do not have to be the only one. Self care will look like me connecting with friends and exercising after this birth. I will be okay.
6. Any parting words of advice?
Pay attention to body work, alignment, all of the internal structural stuff. It will make all the other things flow much easier during repair and rebuilding!