I was one of those people who absolutely could not wait to be pregnant. I fantasized about what I would look like with a big ole’ baby bump and glowing skin. I touched my stomach tenderly and told myself one day.
Then, that one day came. I saw two bright pink lines – a very positive pregnancy test to match my very positive outlook on how wonderful it would be to grow a human.
Within a week, it all came crashing down when I regurgitated my morning cup of (decaf) coffee.
Within two weeks, I had acne. Within a month, the smell of my husband’s deodorant nauseated me so much that I made him switch brands. And by the time the first trimester was over, I was convinced that I had a made a colossal mistake. Turns out, I hated being pregnant. Every single second of it felt like physical and emotional torture.
I felt an immense amount of guilt when my son arrived six weeks before his due date.
I was convinced that all my moaning and groaning had sent a loud, clear message to the universe that I was done and in turn, I had gotten what I wished for. Of course, none of that is true. In reality, my water broke – a freak occurrence – and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
Still, the fact that I loathed my pregnant state and my body wasn’t even able to carry my son full-term did quite a number on my self-esteem as a new mother. Surely I wasn’t cut out for this. Surely my son deserved better. I told myself in those early days that I was an unfit mother.
Yet with each passing day, my confidence grew.
Taking care of a preemie is no small feat (no pun intended) but my motherly instincts carried me every step of the way. I somehow knew exactly how to care for this tiny being. I knew what each pitch of each cry meant. His mannerisms, which seemed like nonsensical baby movements to everyone else, were coded with meaning that I only I could crack. If he rubbed his head a certain way, he was overdue for his nap. If he refused to nap, I simply needed to rest his head on my chest and as soon as he found the sound of my heartbeat, it lulled him to sleep. He was so wholly mine and I completely gave myself to him in return.
I loved being a mom; I loved being his mom. And to my utter disbelief, I was a natural.
It took me a long, long time to decide to have another baby. For as much as I enjoyed motherhood, I also missed sleep and normalcy and free time (as all moms do). But as I watched my son grow up as an only child, it became more and more clear to me that he needed a sibling. So we decided to try again. I made myself a promise – this time would be different. If I was lucky enough to get pregnant again, I would try not to hate it. I wouldn’t complain so much. I wouldn’t take it for granted.
Well, I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant with baby number two. And guess what? I freakin’ hate it.
I shared my feelings with my therapist recently. Her response was this:
“It is entirely possible to be grateful that you’re pregnant and to love your unborn child and simultaneously hate the physical state of being pregnant. In fact, I would find it very strange if you told me you enjoyed vomiting multiple times a day.”
I had to laugh. And she was totally right. Just because I’m one of those women who hates being pregnant, that doesn’t make me a bad mother. Far from it. It makes me human.
I’m actually cutting myself some slack this time.
I no longer have to wonder if I’ll be an unfit mother. I don’t have to assume that my lack of “warm fuzzies” during pregnancy automatically means that I won’t be an affectionate, doting, adoring mom. I already know those are just lies I told myself the first time around. So this time, I’m telling myself the truth:
I’m a kickass mother. I’m going to love this new baby with everything I have. I just need to get through this miserable pregnancy first.
Related: Baby Shower Games that Don’t Suck