When people find out you're pregnant, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is "congratulations".
While now I enjoy being congratulated and people asking me about my pregnancy, the first moments and days of knowing that I was pregnant were not exactly a celebration for me.
I would like to share these very personal thoughts and feelings with you, because there seems to be a misconception about how women are supposed to react when they learn that they will become a mother. It's supposed to be the best news ever , because having a baby is supposedly the best thing that can possibly happen to a couple.
But is it?
Some parents really plan having a baby. It's their dream to build a family and when they finally get pregnant it's the happiest day in the world for them. Think Instagram posts with #soblessed #solucky ! I envy these people sometimes, because for me it wasn't the case.
My pregnancy wasn't planned and it caught me by surprise. I went through a whole range of emotions. When I first looked at those two red stripes appear on my pregnancy test, I felt disbelief. This can't be right I thought, the test must be expired. But the two stripes were there, alright. When reality kicked in, I started crying. It was as if life had punched me in the stomach and knocked the air out of me. I thought my life would be over. The sky was falling on top of me, and I couldn't breathe.
You see, I don't really like kids in the first place, and don't consider myself the motherly type. I smile at kids in the supermarket, and for some reason they seem to like me, but after a few minutes I always remind myself how lucky I am to still have my freedom. I cringe when I hear a kid cry, get annoyed when they scream and run around. I like my peace and quiet, but more importantly I don't have any patience. I always viewed having kids as a burden, a responsibility that keeps people from getting enough sleep, from traveling and just being who they want to be and do whatever they want to do. Call me selfish, but I enjoy this kind of freedom.
I also had concerns about how my body would change. I know moms that look 10 years older after they have given birth. Some never got fit again, and I had just embarked on a journey to be at my fittest. I was very scared about gaining weight and not being able to train, and more importantly about never getting back to my pre-pregnancy level of fitness after I give birth. The changes a body goes through during pregnancy are no joke.
Despite everything you're reading here, I never told myself that I will never have children. I just always pushed it back for later once I'm ready, but the older I got, the more unlikely it seemed for me that I would ever have kids of my own.
For my husband it was the opposite. He always wanted kids, and he's very good with them. He gets excited with every kid he meets, he plays and jokes with them, and I just stand by watching and thinking why don't I have this talent?
I knew that he would be the happiest person on earth once I told him, but that's not what I needed to hear in that moment. I wasn't ready for happiness and simply wanted to feel understood. I just wanted someone to get me, my shock, my fears, my desperation and my helplessness.
Hence, my first reaction was to call my childhood friend in Luxembourg. She would understand me because she had been in the exact same situation. She didn't want kids and got pregnant by accident. She didn't feel happy or blessed as most expecting moms call it, up until her son was born. Even after birth she suffered from post natal depression and had a hard time adjusting to motherhood.
People don't speak of these things often, but I think it's time that society recognizes that it's absolutely normal to also feel negatively about motherhood. That doesn't make her a bad mother, it just means that she has feelings. Feelings should never be suppressed, dismissed or ignored, no matter how negative or illogical they seem. Now she's happy and can't imagine a life without her son. She describes him as the best thing that ever happened to her.
This gave me hope.
I needed to hear what she went through, how it was for her, and how she got over her depression. I needed to hear that it's normal to feel the way I did, but that everything would be alright. I needed to hear that I was OK to not like kids of other people, but that it doesn't mean that I will feel the same about my own child. I needed to hear that it takes time to adjust to the news, and that it's perfectly OK to cry and not be happy about it.
What I didn't need to hear was congratulations.
Our talk made me feel much better. She said your child will be different, because YOU made him, and therefore you will love him!
You'll probably wonder why I kept my baby, if that's the way I felt initially about my pregnancy...
Don't get me wrong, if I didn't want to have a baby at all, I would have gotten an abortion. It's illegal in Panama to get abortions, but there are ways to do it off the books. The point is, if I had really wanted to not be pregnant anymore, I could have done it. But something inside of me prevented me from doing that. I can't explain it, but even though I felt all these negative things about becoming a parent, something made me want to protect the embryo that was growing inside of me.
I started thinking about whether certain foods or beverages would harm him and automatically avoided these. Does that mean that I actually want a child? Maybe. Probably.
I'm a lot less confused today, and more at peace with becoming a mother. I often ask myself what would happen if I woke up in the morning and it was all a dream, would I be happy about it? Or if I could un-do it, go back in time somehow and not be pregnant anymore, would I?
Weirdly enough I cannot answer YES to these questions, so I guess part of me wants this somehow.
But that doesn't mean I'm not scared shitless.
Will I have a mother instinct once the baby is born? Will I love him enough? Will he love me? Will I be up to the task?
All these questions run through my head. My best friend told me that the love you feel for your child is something one cannot explain. So to make me understand, she told me: you know how much you love your dog? Well imagine it being 100 times stronger than that.
That definitely sold it for me. I love my dog to death, so if I at least love my child as much as I love my dog, let alone 2 times more, I know I'm going to be fine. This may sound funny to you, but these questions are very real to me.
Today I'm 15 weeks pregnant, and even though my belly constantly reminds me of my pregnancy, I still don't fully realize that it's actually happening. A friend of mine just gifted me some baby clothes, and receiving those made it seem more real. However, I still feel like I'm jumping into a giant black hole without knowing what to expect on the other side. Not to mention the fear I have of giving birth. I've heard crazy stories about doctors cutting women's vagina open to make more space. Just thinking about that traumatizes me and makes me want to delay the process as much as possible.
But I will be OK.
When people congratulate me I don't feel uncomfortable anymore. Now I smile. Other moms tell me welcome to the club and tell me to sleep as much as I can now, because soon I won't be able to. Remarks like these still don't make me 100% happy about motherhood, but I guess it won't kill me. It's just temporary and I'll adapt. I'm also not alone and know my hubby is here to support me all the way. I'll get fit again. If I look 10 years older I'll just get Botox (just kidding!). And when I see what a good son my husband is to his mother and the strong relationship they have, I can only hope that it will be the same for me with my son. It makes me realize that in the end, it's all worth it.
Have you had a similar experience as a mother to be, or a friend/family member who went through the same adjustment process to motherhood? I'd love to hear about it in the comments =)