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

the anguish of postponed motherhood

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I have no children, but I am a mother. I feel it in my bones; I have always felt it in my bones. So the fact that we “are not ready” to start our family grates at me, scraping the flesh of my heart on a daily basis. Sometimes, it is the only thing that I can think about, a constant thrum of anguish at the centre of each day. All of our “reasons” look flimsier and flimsier next to the raw need in my heart.

I work with children; every day, I look at each one and think, “I could have a child like you.” I sit with the preschoolers at nap time, so pleased when they want just me to rub their backs, melting into a puddle of goo when they make funny comments or do sweet things, like the four year old boy who took my hand in his and cuddled it to his chest, saying, “I’ll keep you warm,” when I told him I was cold. I watch every child that goes through my care and think, “My future could look like you.”

There is a list on my phone entitled “Baby Names” which I have had since I was nineteen or so. The names haven’t changed much. I’ve had the same ones picked for several years now. I have names for every eventuality: two girls, two boys, boy and a girl. A surprise third child. Except for middle names, mostly because the idea of middle names confounds me. (What is the point?) In idle moments, I entertain myself imagining the little people that will go along with the names that I have chosen. I wonder how their names will shape them. I toy idly with the name Khaleesi (though I agree 100% with my BFF when she said to me, “Jessica Michelle McGale-Cooper, I will not be an auntie to a human child named Khaleesi.” Thank you, voice of reason.)

One day, while babysitting for the sweet six month old baby boy that I get the pleasure of looking after every week, we were sitting on the floor, playing, and amidst all the babble and the joyous kicking of legs and blowing of bubbles he went still, and he simply looked at me, with his impossibly wide blue baby eyes, and he did not look away for at least a minute. He held my finger and stared at my face, and tugged so hard at my heart that I burst into tears right there.

I was born to be a mother. Of this, I have always been certain. And so it kills me a little bit to have to postpone this transition.

Not only that, but it feels like a lot of pressure. Because, it seems to me, if I am postponing the one thing I want more than anything in the world, I better have a damn good reason for it. I better be spending my time wisely. I better be accomplishing absolutely everything I have listed on every to do list I have ever made. I better be checking things off my bucket list left, right, and centre. Because if I’m not, if I am simply whiling away the time, staring at the biological clock as it ticks away, then what the hell is the point? I might as well get knocked up now, reasons be damned.

But if any of this agony is to have any meaning, I need to be doing something with my time. And so, anxious person that I already am, I have become exponentially more anxious about how I am spending my life. Am I doing something productive? Am I moving forward on anything? Am I achieving anything at all?

Some days, it feels like I will buckle under the pressure: the anguish of postponed motherhood, and the pressure of it, too. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, and no matter how I wiggle and twist and push, I cannot seem to find a way out.

Someone hand me an exacto knife.

Do you have any suggestions for improving the situation I find myself in? Have you ever experienced anything similar? (Doesn’t have to be baby related.)

 

the anguish of postponed motherhood