all of the feelings

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Well. The cat is out of the bag: we’re having a baby.

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the whole thing. When we found out, I sobbed uncontrollably for almost an hour, completely overwhelmed with happiness and fear and anxiety and hope and basically every other emotion a human being is capable of feeling. I wandered around in a daze for the rest of that day: we went to IKEA and saw the movie Southpaw, but I barely remember any of that. Mostly what I remember is standing in the middle of an aisle in the IKEA warehouse, unaware of where I was, thinking, over and over, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. 

Then I called my mother.

The sheer panic of those first few days has lessened somewhat over the last few weeks. The idea that we are going to have a baby, that we will go from a couple to a family of three, has become a bit more comfortable (though no less terrifying). We have told our family, our friends, pretty much everyone we know, and so I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore. When I am overcome with a wave of exhaustion so intense I can barely stand, I don’t have to pretend I’m fine anymore. I don’t have to make excuses.

I am happy. Very happy. This is, after all, exactly what I wanted.

But there’s more to it than that. Over the past few weeks, I have also been more depressed than I have been in a long, long while. There have been days when I have been unable to drag myself out of bed for more than a few hours at a time. Given the level of exhaustion I’ve been feeling, it has been hard to engage in many of the things that I like to do, which has been frustrating and demoralizing. There have been a million things that I feel the need to think about, now that a mini Cooper is on the way: is this the right place for us to be living right now, what do we do about the fact that our neighbor’s cigarette smoke is constantly seeping into our apartment, what kind of stuff are we going to need for the baby, what do I need to do in order to take fullest advantage of maternity leave, life insurance, a will, RESPs, the list goes on and on. Sometimes I lay in bed at night, with these thoughts and worries chasing themselves around my head like a dog with its tail, and it is all that I can do to keep from screaming. And I look at myself, curled into a protective ball under the blankets, and I think, “I should be happy.”

But I shouldn’t be anything. My therapist told me, “Pregnancy is an experience like anything else, and there is no should about how you feel. You feel the way that you feel.” And so I am practicing self-compassion again, giving myself permission to be how I am, whatever that may be, letting myself know that it is okay to not be okay. That maybe pregnancy won’t be a meadow full of flowers and rainbows for me, and that is okay. That it is okay for it to be whatever it is going to be.

I just want to embrace it while it is here, however it is going to turn out. I only plan on having two children, maaaaaybe three, so this is a rare experience, and I want to really experience it. I don’t want to spend the whole time wishing it was over. I want to be here, now, not only to be truly present for all of the ways in which my baby is growing and my body is changing, but to experience the last few months that Bryan and I have to ourselves. I really don’t want to squander that time. I want to spend it cuddling and talking and laughing and exploring the city and having new experiences and doing things we’ve always talked about but never gotten around to. I want to spend it planning how we are going to adjust our dreams and aspirations to the presence of a tiny person in our world. I want to spend a little bit of it pretending that a baby isn’t coming at all, and that it is really just the two of us for a while longer.

All I know is that this whole thing has come with a shit ton of feelings, and I am doing my best to lean into them. To be here and now, while I can be.

Mostly, though, I am just little-kid-on-Christmas-morning excited that I am going to be a mother. (OH MY GOD.)

all of the feelings

Babies, But Not Yet

As any of you who have read this blog before know, I struggle a lot with finding “purpose”; that career or lifestyle that will fulfill me and make all my wildest dreams come true. But while I have flopped back and forth in that arena almost constantly for the past, oh, decade or so, there is one thing in my life that I have always been 100% certain about: motherhood. I love kids. I even love other people’s kids (it is why I choose to work with them). I have never wavered on my desire to have children of my own.

Since I got married, my desire to have children has intensified exponentially (who knew my biological clock was so sensitive to socially acceptable context for procreation?). My ache to have children has gotten to the point where it is a constant companion, but intense enough that it is a struggle to handle it every day. My cousin, who is one of my best friends, is the same age as me and has two children, and there are days when I burn with jealousy over that. When I am driven to distraction by the need to have a baby of my own in my arms.

But then again…there, too, are days when I am driven to distraction by my need to travel the world, to write many novels, to start my own business. To live in Melbourne, Australia, to laze on the beaches of Thailand, to work on an organic farm in Hawaii.

For a long time, I felt like life plateaued after the age of 30. When making decisions, I would often think, “But will I be done and established by the time I am 30?” Like there was no way for me to change my mind or start anything new after that age. Like 30 was the magical number whereby I would have had to make all of my decisions and forever live with the consequences.

I have since changed my mindset on that. I am fairly certain that I will be changing my mind and trying new things for the rest of my life, and so I am not quite so obsessed with the threshold of 30. With that shift has also come the shift in thinking about kids. I used to believe that my desire for children at a relatively young age (I want to start having kids before – ha – 30), meant that I would have to opt out of a lot of things. Of course, having kids changes things. It changes your priorities, your time commitments, your whole life. But it does not mean that you have to give up on everything else that you have ever desired. There are plenty of people who travel the world with their children, or pursue high-powered careers, or launch their own businesses. Just as life does not plateau after 30, it does not plateau after children either.

I know that we are not ready for children yet. Financially, that would be disastrous. Emotionally and mentally, we just aren’t there. I would like to enjoy a few years of marriage just the two of us. I would like to do some hardcore traveling without a child strapped to my back. I would like to selfishly explore my own wants and needs. I’d like to sleep in on the weekends and go out with friends until the wee hours and pick up and head to the mountains at the last minute just because we feel like it. I would like to get to know myself – and Bryan – a little bit better outside the context of parenthood.

The torch of my longing for children is the brightest and longest burning of all the torches that I carry. It will burn for a little while longer, while I pursue the other ones that flicker in the background, begging, too, for my attention.

 

Babies, But Not Yet