When I found out I was pregnant I cried. Not the tears of joy the movies always portray, but pure terror and fear. Hot, wrenching from your soul tears that burned my face as they streamed down. I was so afraid that my life was going to change, for the worse not the better, and I was scared as hell.
My husband before we had ‘started trying’ had always said he was ready, he was meant to be a father so why did I not feel that same? After my husband, the first person I told was my sister and I remember crying again. Not the same hot tears but there was an uncontrollable sobbing that made the words hard to get out. I’d never felt such fear.
I’ve always been pragmatic but insecurity and fear don’t give a damn, I knew logically I could care for a child. Money was tight but not impossible- others did it on less. I knew my life would be forever changed, my ‘freedom’ would be limited and I would need to be responsible for another person that could judge every insecure step I took in life. I had internalized my inept at maternal instincts that everyone told me I didn’t have because I wasn’t ‘nurturing’. Was I meant to be a bad mother? Was that my cross to bear?
And what kind of world was this to bring a child into, the kind where people judged you based on the color of your skin, on your last name and on the network your parents had built. Would I be able to prepare someone else, someone pure to be able to see the world clearly but not cynically? All these thoughts rummaged through my mind in the time I knew I had gotten pregnant to the time I took the test and confirmed it. I don’t know how people don’t know they are pregnant I knew within days, I could feel that my body was different and no longer my own.
As my body continued to blossom and grow I know that I was lucky, that for all my reservations, I had a rather uncomplicated pregnancy. I continued to travel for work and even worked grave for nearly two months in Lake Tahoe, over the holidays, driving the 8 hours to Vegas for Christmas Eve only to fly back the next day. I refused to change what my ‘normal’ was for someone else, even someone that wasn’t born yet. I wanted no one to have a reason to look at me differently now that I was pregnant. That’s how people lose, that’s how women lose in the corporate world, and I did- let’s be real.
And when my doctor told me I was no longer allowed to fly I was mad. So mad, mainly because what I had been trying to push off, happened inevitably. I was allowed to work remotely but that didn’t mean I was still invited to all the same on goings as before. And there was someone to blame, the growing life inside me. My husband was nothing but joyful, so he was no help, and in another country so not a lot he could do for comfort. I was alone mentally and emotionally and I didn’t know how to reach out.
That feeling of despair followed me throughout the rest of my pregnancy and into the first months of my attempt at motherhood. I self-diagnosed as postpartum depression but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I had a newborn to care for and a partner that was still in another country, I couldn’t allow myself to do anything except what I needed to.
I bathed, breast-fed, and cared for this being that I was responsible for but something about the experience still felt alien to me. Like it wasn’t happening to me, like I was watching someone else’s life on tv, and they were living my life for me. All of the things I had feared were occurring right before my eyes.
My husband was unable to join me in the supportive role I was expecting. I felt disassociated to the child I had given birth to, disconnected somehow. I ended up having to quit my job because I was expected to return to traveling and that didn’t seem conducive to the needs of a newborn. Throughout this transition the only thing that kept me sane was being able to look into my daughter’s eyes and know, in my soul, I loved her.
I don’t know what motherhood is or what it should feel like, it’s only been about two years since I became one and I’m still trying to figure it out. There are moments when I lose myself again, long for the moments of freedom of yesteryear but then she’ll wrap her small arms around my neck and remind me love grows without conditions. I can only be the mother I know how to be and this is enough. It needs to be.
Yours in Kind.