Deciding to become a parent was an easy thing for me, for I had always known I wanted to be a mother. In fact, it is the one role I always knew I wanted to fill and the only role I knew I would truly be good at. At the same time, I was a bit aimless and unsure in the rest of my life and had an idea in my head that I would become a bit more settled once I turned thirty, that maybe then I would be ready to find someone to build my life with, would be ready to have a settled home and begin growing a family and filling that motherly role.
Little did I know that at the age of twenty-two I would meet the man that would become my husband and the father to my children by the time I turned twenty-seven. Truthfully, from the moment we met I knew my old ideas were things of the past and that there was a new plan in store for me, and while that new plan has been incredible and filled my life with more love and more stability than I could have ever imagined, fear has also wiggled its way into my plans.
The fear comes with the changes. Having lived together for four years now, my love and I have had a good dose of just-the-two-of-us time, yet I fear what will happen once our baby arrives. I fear losing the intimacy we share, fear not finding time for each other to nurture our love, fear growing apart as we become buried in diapers and burp clothes. You hear about it so often and it breaks my heart every time, the couples that send their kids off to college, are left with an echoing home, and realize they no longer know each other. Realistically I know our love is strong, we know each other well and we have promised to make a conscious effort to keep our love alive and strong as we begin this new journey, so I take comfort in that even though we really have no idea what we are in for come September and the arrival of our first-born.
Another fear creeps in with the logistics of that very arrival. Books have been read, birth stories devoured, midwives talked to, and birth classes scheduled, yet I do not know the feeling of a contraction, do not know what it is like to go in to labor and to push another human being from my body. I feel capable and know that my body was uniquely made for this kind of job, that it will lead the way, yet there is no way for me to know what that job will require of me until I am in the moment, and I can admit to that being a little scary.
And once she’s here? Once she’s here my life is no longer strictly my own. Another human life will become entirely dependent on my partner and myself and I don’t know how anyone can face that fact without feeling a bit of anxiety. I am looking forward to her arrival more than I can accurately describe. I am looking forward to protecting her, teaching her, guiding her through life, yet with those roles comes a huge amount of responsibility and I think it’s okay to admit that it’s a little scary.
These fears have not stopped me and I know they are ones that are realistic and probably quite normal, but so often we are faced with images of glowing pregnant women with perfectly round bellies and gigantic smiles on their faces. We are told that to be pregnant is a blessing and that we should be thankful, and while I do believe those things to be true and while my ability to become pregnant is not something I will ever take for granted, I think it’s also okay to admit that it scares me more than I can imagine. I think it’s okay to admit that we have fears and insecurities and that it is okay to have those feelings. Everyone sends congratulations and asks how you are feeling, but I can only imagine the looks if I were to share that carrying our child has been fascinating and incredible and something I feel so thankful to get to do, yet it also has brought up fears and anxieties I could have never imagined, that my thoughts often wonder to mistakes of my past and hopes that those won’t affect my unborn child, that I worry more about car accidents and being injured or abducted more than ever, that I look at everything differently than before. People want the smiles and the round bellies, they want the “I feel great” and “What a blessing”. It’s a rarer person who wants to know what’s happening a bit deeper in your soul.
Yes, a much greater portion of my time is spent smiling, dreaming, and glowing with love for my daughter-to-be, but I do not ignore those other feelings of anxiety and fear or try to push them aside. I welcome them in and I sit with them as well, taking the time to work through them and live with them, for I know they will prepare me for my new role in a way that I need just as much as the joyful feelings. Choosing to become a mother was an easy decision, but the journey there has taken me into uncharted territory, one for which I am without maps. Since I have never been such a good navigator I’ll just continue to do my best feeling my way along and looking forward to the unknown. For now, I am filled with hope and fear and an enormous amount of love. All of those things combined have created a joy I have never felt before and confirmed my choice to become a mother, even if I start my new job with a little fear tucked in my pocket.
Read more of Sara's writing over at her blog Berries and Graphite.