Walking through fear to find joy
For some women, pregnancy is the most beautiful time of their life and for others, it's simply 9 long months you have to get through. My journey has been somewhere in the middle of these two paths and I feel like maybe sharing this portion of my story might help someone having similar feelings.
Life can be so lonely even if you're surrounded by family and friends and love, if you feel like you're alone in what you're experiencing, no amount of joy can put that unease to rest. If this applies to you, stick with me.
Since the moment we found out we were going to be bringing a little one into the world, fear and I have spent a lot of time together...
Fear of what is happening and what's going to happen to my self...to who I am and how I am...
- I’m afraid because I feel more dumb than I’ve ever felt in my life. I have zero idea of what I’m doing or what’s to come. I’m afraid I won’t know things like how often to feed him/her, what they should be doing at different stages, when to take them in for a check-up, how they should be sleeping. I’m afraid this feeling will shatter any confidence I have and will make me a second-guessing terrible mother.
- I'm afraid of postpartum depression.
- I’m afraid of everyone feeling like they have the right to give their opinion on everything because, while much of it is helpful and constructive, it can also be hurtful and condescending. With that, I’m afraid of all the decisions that have to be made, and of making sure we’re making them for us and what’s best for our family instead of on other people’s opinions.
- I’m afraid of how different parenting styles are and how easily and freely judgement is passed. I’m afraid of getting caught up in it, and of it happening to me.
- I’m afraid of my life no longer being my own but fully belonging to this little person…that every decision and choice I make will now have a direct impact on their life.
- I’m afraid my desire to have a little of my own life will go away. Right now I want to go to a summer concert festival, WE Fest. I think if Blair & I took our RV and didn’t drink it’d be amazing and completely doable. We could strap that baby to us with ear protection and some sunscreen and have the best time. I’m afraid the ‘we’ll-be-fine’ attitude will leave me after the baby is actually here.
- I’m afraid of the fear that seems to come with leaving your child with other people. I want this little one to experience all kinds of people — family, baby-sitters, our friends. I don’t want the fear of leaving him/her with anyone but us to paralyze our lives. Instead I want to enrich theirs by learning from people other than just us.
- I’m afraid I’m going to turn into a hovering mom that won’t let anyone hold the baby, be with the baby without me, be away from the baby for too long, and who loses my sense of self becoming only a mother to my child.
- I’m afraid Leila will go from being my number one girl, to just a dog. That might sound dumb but right now she really is such a light in my life. She is so good and brings so much joy to our lives, I don’t want her to get left by the wayside because there will now be a human baby in our lives.
- I’m afraid of running solely on coffee, and being 100% exhausted all the time.
- I’m afraid of our lives becoming overrun with toys, equipment, clothes, and things we just don’t need because I will lose site of the minimal way we live and start wanting “more”.
Fear of how I've felt so far during this process...
- I have not loved or hated being pregnant yet. That feels weird to say out loud because it seems impartial…like I’m not grateful for this, excited for it, or going to be a good mom. It sounds like the opposite and that scares me and makes me sad.
- I’m afraid I’ll be emotionally disconnected. I haven’t been emotional (I’ve actually been less emotional than I was before), wanted to kiss every baby I see, or cried at commercials with a baby in them. I mean I made it through 99% of the movie Wonder dry-eyed…what?!
- People told me kicks feel like butterfly wings or champagne bubbles popping, to me it feels like I swallowed a fish and it’s flopping around in there. It is the coolest and weirdest/grossest feeling I’ve ever experienced. It’s completely amazing but also really weird. I’m a human, growing a human inside me, and sometimes it just feels like I’m in an alien movie. Because I don’t associate kicking with the romantic things and still think this whole amazing process is a little weird/gross, I’m afraid of feeling disconnected in all the things to come.
- I’m afraid of the idea that I may not like the baby very much at first. It has taken me a long time to feel bonded with this little life inside me and I’m afraid that means I’ll feel disconnected when the day comes. Feeling the kicks and movement has made it feel more like we’re a little team but I feel more in awe of what’s happening inside my body than gushy love towards my baby.
Fear of what this is going mean for my relationship with Blair...
- We are so good as a pair and have a really great life. We genuinely enjoy each other and get along 97% of the time. I see so many couples grow distant and frustrated with each other after they have kids and I’m afraid that instead of strengthening our relationship, it could do the opposite.
- I’m afraid of becoming frustrated with him because he sees more of the big picture and less details, where I see only details. I’m afraid those differences will become an issue.
- I’m afraid of putting him into a category not much above the kid itself. Our society/media is so inundated with the idea that dads are dumb, not as good at parenting as moms, and are basically worthless without the direction of their wife. My husband isn’t any of that but I’m afraid that in my new role as “mom” I’ll somehow begin to view myself as the superior parent and lose the immense trust I have in him to care for our little one with, or without, my help.
- We live, work, and travel full-time in an RV. I’m afraid of having a little one in the RV when this is also his place of work. I’m afraid the cries will interrupt his thought process and that the back bedroom where I’ll be with the baby will start to feel like a cell, causing frustration for both of us.
- I’m afraid that not only are we going to have a baby, but a toddler, kid, teenager, and adult. There are so many things in this world to worry about and I’m afraid of all that fear, worry, and what-if thinking. I’m afraid those feelings will be felt stronger by me than by him and that it’ll be a wedge between us.
Fear of something going wrong or being wrong with the baby...
- I had such an easy 1st trimester and was worried the whole time that something wasn’t right. Times where no food sounded good, I was filled with guilt because I wasn’t giving my baby the nutrients it needed to grow.
- Every single time I went to the bathroom I was afraid I would see the blood of a miscarriage. Every. Single. Time.
- I worry this little one that is supposed to come out “perfect” won’t. I worry what that will mean for us, but mostly, what it will mean for them.
- I’m afraid of losing the baby because I don’t know how I’d come back from that.
Fear of what is and what's going to happen to my body...
- I’m afraid of what pregnancy is doing to my body. This feeling is something I wasn’t super prepared for mentally. Two days before I found out I was pregnant I started the Body Boss workouts and liked them, but because you’re not supposed to start a new workout routine while pregnant, I stopped and instead chose to walk and now, swim. I try to make healthy choices most of the time but there are days I eat pancakes twice in one day and curse the Girl Scouts for inventing those freaking cookies as I’m inhaling my 5th…it makes me feel super guilty and completely disgusting. The junk food days are few but they really get me down when they happen.
- I went to the gym to swim and as I walked through the cardio/strength area on my way to the locker room I saw beautiful ripped bodies. In the pool area I was surrounded by older bodies that looked much different, and realized my body shape looked more like theirs. I certainly do not think you have to look like a runway model to be beautiful, but my body change hit me pretty hard that day and made me feel bad. People say “bodies are beautiful when pregnant” and I agree with that statement but the bottom line is, it’s not the way I’m used to seeing myself. I know all the good things happening in my body right now and I am beyond grateful to be carrying this little one inside me, but also, it sucks to feel so foreign in your own skin. I get a little frustrated because no one warns you of this feeling — no one says it’s OK to feel gross. People provide positive comments (which I fully understand are coming from love) but I just want someone to say, you know what, it does suck to have your pants not fit anymore. It sucks to never even want to wear pants again because they’re either up to your armpits, cutting into the newly formed love handles you have, or sitting right across the middle of your belly. It sucks not to be able to wear your regular jeans and it sucks to always have to pull your maternity ones up. It sucks to try and figure out what to wear because if you wear a cute loose shirt you don’t look pregnant, but if you wear a tight shirt before you’re 6+ months pregnant no one knows if you’re actually pregnant or just ate Chipotle for lunch.
- I’m afraid on the days I crave nothing but pancakes that I'm turning my baby into a diabetic sugarholic.
- I’m afraid of labor and delivery. I want to do it without any drugs which means my choices are to either feel the worst pain imaginable or if they have to, be cut open. Neither of those sound fun and I have no idea what to expect so it scares me. That is also the moment when the full reality of we-can’t-just-return-this-if-we-don’t-like-it will hit and I’m afraid of that feeling. It is a lifetime commitment and there is zero turning back.
- I’m afraid of breastfeeding - that it’ll hurt and what it’ll do to my once perky boobs.
- I’m afraid of stretch marks and extra tummy skin.
- I’m afraid of all the hormones, body changes, and navigating our way after the baby comes.
This has been a process full of ups and downs. The day we found out feels like about 12 years ago, but I look at how little time I have left in this first pregnancy and I get sad knowing this experience will be over. I never got the baby itch…the ‘I need to have a baby in order to feel fulfilled’ feeling. I never felt like this was something Blair and I needed to do to fill a void in our relationship. Walking among all this fear has felt so lonely because I just don’t know if other people feel those same things during their pregnancy. I didn’t realize how many fears I was walking with until a simple email of advice to a friend turned into an 11 page document.
In putting these fears on paper, it has allowed me to make the choice to let myself feel it all and be ok with it. When I have a junk food day and feel crappy about eating pancakes twice, I’m letting myself feel crappy about that. When I’m exhausted and just feel like sleeping, I’m letting myself sleep. I am allowing myself to feel excited because holding on to fear has disconnected me from this journey. I will feel the good, and I will feel the bad, truly taking each moment as it comes. This has been such a crazy ride and I’m looking into the future with anticipation, excitement, and terror…but for the next few months I am just going to try and enjoy the rest of this process recognizing the fears but not letting them take me over.
CarrieUnderwood wrote a song that says…
Never pictured myself singing lullabies - Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night - In the quiet, in the dark - You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes - What a sweet surprise - And now I’m holdin’ what I never knew I always wanted - I couldn’t see, I was blind ’til my eyes were opened - I didn’t know there was a hole - Something missing in my soul - ’Til you filled it up, oh, with your love - Life has a way of showing you just what you need - And who you were made to be, yeah
I think this is going to be the way I feel when our little one finally comes into this world. Despite fear of how it will change me, and what it’ll do to Blair & I, I know in my heart that this little one is going to add such incredible joy to our lives and bring out the best in each of us. It will show us awesome things we didn’t know about each other and our family of 3 will be exactly what I never knew I always wanted.