So, you’re pregnant. Shit.
I’ve been there.
When I was child-free, I harbored this nebulous concept that I would someday have kids. I was also much more preoccupied with trying not to get pregnant for most of my adult life thus far, so a progression to trying to become pregnant seemed…unnatural.
I also scoffed at any pronatalist slant toward a woman’s childless state. Despite what popular culture dictates, women probably spend way more on their college education than on shoes and handbags and the like. So, we can’t go on telling women to get an education, pursue their dreams without some expectation for a return on investment.
Yes yes yes. All that.
But it happened. I became with child. Petrified. Reluctant. Pregnant.
Son # 1 eventually arrived after 10 agonizing months (It’s a 9 full months.) and predictably, my life has never been the same since. The shock does wear off, so do not despair.
You learn that you can learn FAST.
Trust this mommy, a once awkward, self-admitted terror to young children. Every child I looked at cried. Really. Well sort of. Some ran away. Both my nephews as toddlers VERY CLEARLY told me that they didn’t like me. (Now they are grown and like me. So again, do not despair.) I also did not anticipate my ego shedding. Novel convictions of self-identity pre-motherhood were some of my most precious belongings, now whisked away by sleep deprivation. I had no time to reflect. I had time only to learn and to learn fast. Once he was birthed, this baby stranger was placed in my arms and within a few seconds, he latched onto what felt like a virgin nipple! I had changed one diaper my entire life before meeting him. After my second diaper change occurred in the hospital, it became so loose his meconium leaked out and stuck to my arm like sewage sludge. Now I have my breasts back indefinitely (nursed both sons until they were ready to walk) and I can change pee and poo diapers blindfolded. The old adage is true: out with the old and in with the new.
You’ll become more humble.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. I’m not implying that you’re due for an inevitable slice of humble pie. Nope. You may not be fully aware of this right now, but you’re actually baking the whole damn pie yourself, then serving it on huge silver platter and then eating it in one sitting. You may feel prepared. You may have read a dozen books on babies. You may have even taken a prenatal class, but nothing you think matters right now will matter at 1am in the morning, at 3am in the morning and at 5am in the morning when you can barely articulate a sentence, barely breathe or even muster a blink. Remember that time you judged that mom at the playground for stuffing a smartphone into the sticky palms of her flailing toddler? Now imagine you’ve been up since 1am and it’s 4am now and your baby is still wailing. That’s when you realize that you have no choice but to keep your baby alive, by any means necessary.There’s no pride here. Pride is weak. Weakness is thinking that reading baby books is gonna make you a super mom. Burn all the baby books. Burn any ounce of self-pride you have. Your newfound strength will be born out of this utter submission: you know nothing and part of the fun is in the mystery. Once you figure out there is no such thing as a super mom, you’ll feel a lot better and you may actually have more fun with your warm bundle of burps and intransigent demands. Be humble, my reluctant mom (to be).
You’re going to love like you’ve never loved before.
Both Son #1 and Son #2 didn’t give a shit about me for the first two months of their lives, a time when newfound motherhood can feel overwhelmingly—terrifying. Like, what just happened?! This is normal. In the beginning, Son #2 behaved like an a rabid dog. Which is also normal; albeit, a little soul crushing. He threw up my milk. He appeared to enjoy screaming for hours for no reason. He had mucus in his poos. He gave me a run for my money: literally. I hoofed it to the doctor’s every week for a month, wrapping his soiled poo diapers in sandwich bags for examination. I would bring her three samples each time, each labeled with their respective date (of poo) and even time (of poo). I even cut dairy and soy from my diet (MSPI perchance?).
You may find yourself one night, blurry eyed and wondering when the last time you showered was because your child will not let go of you and though, you are capable of so much, you just can’t shower with a child attached to you.
How can something so terrible sounding be such a purported love fest, right?
They don’t tell you this, but love and fear are two sides of the same coin when it comes to your child(ren). You will do anything to solve the mystery of your baby’s cries so carry him for 2-3 hour blocks at a time you will, all day long if need be. You will do anything to figure out why your baby won’t sleep. (Sleep. Ha!) You may even bring your kid to work and hope not to get fired. At least briefly, and it may feel like an eternity, you’ll exist only to keep your baby calm and fed. It’ll feel like a lonesome one-sided relationship sometimes, because for a time period it is. Baby does this best: take. Take. Take and take. You will give. Give and give. That will be your soul purpose and you may be surprised that you can tolerate this more than you’ve ever tolerated anything so otherworldly and surreal, this existence known as motherhood.
Wait for the toothless, drooly grins because once your baby starts giving those out–all will be forgiven and probably forgotten.
You will never regret it.
My close friend once told a very resistant me (at her son’s first birthday party) that there was no chance a reluctant prospective mommy would ever think herself ready to have a child. Of course, I didn’t believe her, but she was right. At the time I was living in a 4th floor walk up studio in Harlem with a few years of
teaching under my belt and a whole lot of doubt being in New York City. The prospect of having a child was light years away and just inconsequential. Where would a baby sleep in my studio? Ha.. sleep (little did I know.) A few years later, in a one bedroom apartment my partner and I shared, the (theoretical) prospect of a child meant impediments to travel, roadblocks to dreams of touring with his band or… why would we even entertain the thought of having a child?… again, totally inconsequential. Babies were what other people had.
Upstairs there were what sounded like very agile young children jumping from a bed to the ground like clockwork; but by 8pm, it was quiet. It aided in making me very nostalgic. My sisters and I used to launch from the bed over and over and over again. Luckily we lived in a ground floor apartment. Alas, that was the extent of my relationship to children–from a very safe distance.
The point is, I was never going to be ready to be a mommy and the only way it could ever happen was if my pregnancy was accidental. Having children was always theoretical to me; but theory is for naught without practice.
The universe decided to serve me a surprise one cold San Francisco day on vacation visiting my parents. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I cried so hard. I thought my life was over.
In reality, my life began and the best decision I have ever made in my life was born.