I’m sitting in my home office writing this post during the week of April 30th, staring at a view of Hong Kong at 34 weeks pregnant. I can hardly believe that this is my life. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but if you had told me that I would be in this exact scenario a year ago, I would have never believed you.
A year ago, during the week of April 30th, I was sitting at a my new desk in Times Square. A huge company had just bought the startup I was working at. At the time I was worried about what the acquisition would mean for me, whether K was going to get the opportunity in Hong Kong, what tomorrow’s Ifstyledanced post would be, what I was going to do for my next rewear video, and when we would have our next Sa Dance Company performance.
I’ve been lucky with my pregnancy so far. Moving halfway around the world with a surprise pregnancy wasn’t ideal, but my pregnancy symptoms were minimal so it made the process much smoother. After our move I tried to: 1) adjust to my pregnancy and related thoughts, 2) slowly settle into our new apartment halfway around the world, and 3) start figuring out how to begin my new solo career path.
Adjusting to these changes somehow made it harder to meet people because they would be brought up in every conversation. Some folks were great and super supportive, while others told me that I should be focusing on my pregnancy vs. starting a new career, or that I should enjoy starting something new now because I’d never get to focus on it once we have the baby.
All of the newness even made me nervous about travel, even though I love to travel. All I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and think, “What just happened?”. It was so overwhelming and threw me into a mental fog.
It wasn’t until I was in my second trimester that my mental fog began to lift. It could have been coincidence or simply the exhaustion of my first trimester finally going away, but I was suddenly filled with a new drive on all fronts:
- Travel – I was back on my feet again. I met K in Tokyo, part of which was a solo trip, then went to New York for a week long work/fun trip, explored Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef with K, and then recently made a short trip to Shanghai with my sister
- Career – I decided to embrace my identity as a stylist while continuing to blog and to put myself out there more, and channel my new identity as a stylist through my work
- Life in Hong Kong – I started feeling more comfortable in exploring the city for anything that we needed, and thanks to one of our closest friends, started to develop a great circle of friends
The only thing I couldn’t control, of course, was my pregnancy. While I physically felt better in my second trimester than my first trimester, I woke up every morning wondering which non-maternity clothes I could still fit into and when I would start being able to wear the few, new maternity clothes that I bought.
It sounds obvious, but I can’t stop thinking how crazy the whole process is and how much my body has and continues to change. I wondered how much longer I could continue to dance, hike, and do the types of workouts that I enjoyed, and whether I was hurting the baby anytime I did any of these activities. (If I received one more article from a blog or an application on “things to avoid during pregnancy”, I was going to flip. I truly believe that you will know if there’s something you should avoid, and if you don’t, it’s ok to ask someone.)
On a sad, yet understandable note, I was recently told to stop doing any fitness class that doesn’t have “prenatal” in front of it which includes my dance classes! Even sleep became very difficult. I’m a back-sleeper and now have barely gotten used to sleeping on my side. Even on the best of nights, I have to wake up several times to flip my pregnancy pillow in order to switch sides.
I haven’t had a lot of scares during my pregnancy, thankfully; those that I’ve had were minor. But they made me realize what it meant to have “mom’s guilt” for the first time. I was aware of what it is from watching my mom and my friends go through it, but I didn’t realize that it is something that I’d feel even before the child was born. The feeling you get when you think you might have done something to cause an issue to your pregnancy/baby no matter how trivial or significant, is unparalleled in how horrible it can make you feel.
The reality is that unless you intentionally do something that you’re 100% sure you shouldn’t do, it’s never your fault, but getting yourself to believe that is another story.
It wasn’t until near the end of my second trimester that I felt I’d finally embraced and was happy about the timing of my pregnancy. I was grateful that our families would be taking turns to visit, as well as for the amazing, affordable help available in Hong Kong. But now that I’m in my third trimester, my perspective on these different components of my life are shifting once again.
I’ve never been a long term planner. I usually focus about as far out as the next three months. It wasn’t until as I started my third trimester that I thought about the actual logistics about the baby’s arrival: her room, things we’ll need, my delivery, etc. In a way it was great because it kept the anxiety at bay and allowed me to focus on my career and settling into Hong Kong. But seeing the way these thoughts are influencing my work is both interesting and challenging.
Part of it has to do with wondering what types of videos I can do now that I can’t really physically play with new clothing trends unless I expand my maternity wardrobe, which I don’t want to do at this point. I’m also finding it harder to network and push my work and collaboration with people because I keep wondering if I’ll have to put it all on pause at the last minute.
In a way, this evolution is forcing me to harden my vision. When you start something new it’s important to pause every now and then to evaluate where you are. This time I was reminded that the reason why I wanted to pursue styling is because it’s one of the ways in which I can help promote a woman’s confidence.
If I can help someone get the most both physically and mentally out of their closet, or help a fashion brand tell their story in a shoot, then I’ll have done my job. In a strange way, my third trimester has forced me to be more creative in how I portray my perspective on styling through my content, and focus on building out the components of my styling business.
It’s interesting to think about how scared I was of being pregnant and raising a child. I’m still very anxious about the latter, right now more so about the delivery, but pregnancy as a whole has surprised me. It’s strange to feel strong but vulnerable at the same time. Starting a solo career path while pregnant is certainly a volatile cocktail of emotions. But ever since I started feeling the baby move and could physically see her kicking in my body (as alienesque as it is) it makes me want to continue driving forward. These are the moments that remind me that I’m not only doing this for myself, but because I want to one day tell her that for good or bad, it never hurts to try.
Blog edited by: Betty Ho