On the Eve of Motherhood

Sitting in the doctor's office at 11 weeks pregnant, my husband looked at me and said "Are you sure you're excited that we're having a baby?" This question left me stunned. Of course I was excited to have a baby, why did my husband think I wasn't? When I stepped back and reflected over the way I acted in those few early weeks of pregnancy, I could see why my husband felt the need to ask me this question. He could see, even before I saw it in myself, that I was forcing some enthusiasm, that I was masking some sadness.  It turned out, my feelings about becoming a mother ended up being way more complicated than I had anticipated them to be. As I approach motherhood, only two weeks from my due date, I wanted to share with you the highs and lows that came with accepting this new part of my identity. First, a little background about me. I had a very complicated family life growing up that left me desiring to know the traditional parent-child relationship, so a part of me always felt a certain yearning to experience said relationship. That, paired with the constant mom-ing I already do to every person in my life (sorry friends!), made me feel like I am built to be a mom, like I wouldn't be the fully realized version of myself until I had experienced that part of life.  The motherhood fever was REAL, and the baby fever was REAL. The intense desire to become a mom, to see my husband as a father, and to hold my own baby in my arms was so acute that it hurt. Well, a few years into marriage and few years into my profession, Thom and I felt ready to make the jump.We made the leap of faith that we were ready and then boom we were fortunate enough to become pregnant. My instant feeling upon finding out was elation! I remember thinking, I can't believe we can actually have a child! After wanting it so badly, I figured it would be so much harder for me than others. That somehow my desire to be a mom would be the very thing that kept me from getting to become one. After elation, fear quickly snuck up on me. Now that I had gotten what I wanted, surely it wouldn't last... 12141700_10206213574071451_8093048999403589431_n I lived in fear of a miscarriage everyday. I thought I could let it go, but I couldn't. Even now at 38 weeks, I'm still fighting off the feelings of something bad happening. I imagine that's something that won't go away with motherhood, but rather the worry will be a permanent fixture, at least for this anxiety-prone momma. While fear was the emotion that followed elation, it wasn't the fear that ultimately led to my twisted feelings about pregnancy. I say this because it was easy for me to dismiss my sadness at first as just the product of fear.  That it was holding me back from being thrilled. Turns out, it was a beast of a whole other nature. A beast named grief. On that day when my husband asked me if I was sure that I was excited about having our baby, I, of course, gave the instant canned response of "Yes! Absolutely!" I didn't quite know how to put into words the part of me that wasn't excited. I didn't know how to admit that to myself, let alone to admit those feelings out loud to another person. After being asked that question, I knew I really had to face myself, had to face whatever it was that kept me from feeling that pure excitement about becoming a mom. As I tried to put a name to the feelings, it all boiled back to grief. Once I knew that it was grief I was feeling, everything else I was struggling with started to gain clarity. What is there to grieve for when you're pregnant? Turns out, at least for me, more than I would have expected. I had to grieve for the loss of a part of myself. I would no longer just be totally whoever I wanted to be. I would have to be able to make my decisions not just from the Melinda lens, but from the momma lens as well. I had to grieve the changes that would come to my relationship. It's not just going to be Thom and I sleeping until way too late in the morning spending the time doing whatever we wanted, going wherever we wanted. I had to grieve the loss of my body. Everything about my body and choices became dedicated to my baby. Even after delivery, my body will still be sacrificed to my baby, and will, honestly, never be the same again (I'm looking at you, stretch marks!). I had to grieve what it would mean to be a mom in my profession, in my hobbies, in my friendships, and so on. There would be no part of my life left unchanged. 11990626_10206414839542962_8708384630847864516_n These are all sacrifices I thought about before I became pregnant, but once I was actually pregnant, the weight of them became so different. It was a reality I didn't expect, and it was a reality I didn't want to admit aloud. I didn't want to seem like a bad mom before my baby was even here and that's exactly what that grieving process made me feel like. I would think to myself, how can I be a good mom if I'm selfish-ly feeling all of these doubts? Now that I'm on the other side of that struggle, I think experiencing that grief and doubt while pregnant is actually going to make me a better mom. By being honest with myself and others about these feelings, I've saved myself from internalizing them. I've saved myself from hiding them and letting them rule my world and from letting them potentially damage the relationship I will have with my son. I've saved myself from resenting myself and others because of this change. I've accepted that to grieve on the precipice of a major life shift is just a part of being honest about those changes and a part of honoring their reality. None of this is to say that I have my emotions figured out. I'm sure when Oliver graces us with his wonderful presence I will feel some or all of these feelings again and new ones as well, but at least now, I'm ok with that. That's why I wanted to write this. To say to all of you fellow pregnant moms, it's ok if you're not as excited as you thought you'd be, it's ok if a part of you feels sad about pregnancy. It doesn't mean you will love your child less. It means that you acknowledge that with this momentous change, you will lose a part of your self. You can say goodbye and mourn that loss, and you can acknowledge with that loss comes a double gain. You will gain a new part of your identity, and you will gain a child. Your whole world will change, and that's heartbreaking. However, just as with any other life change,  the new adventure that comes in its place is so worth all of the tumult; it will heal that heart right up and make it stronger. 10367169_10206662204246925_5576855742534924370_n Sincerely, melinda-sig

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