This past week I've come across a few pieces of women sharing the difficulty of their transition into motherhood. These women are writing to break down the assumption, and for new mothers the expectation, that pregnancy and motherhood is only a blissful process and that nothing can bring down the delight of welcoming a baby into your life. For them, the process has been trying and depressing, and they wonder, why didn't anyone tell them what it would actually be like?
Even though mothers know that motherhood is not all sweet-smelling roses, when sharing with moms-to-be, this information is replaced by more positive memories, or shame hides the difficult nights of hopelessness and regret. Because we are supposed to be able to do this. And if you are like me, then you are supposed to be able to be pregnant, give birth, and adjust to parenthood while staying on track socially and professionally--plus keep up with the creative side projects that make you the well-rounded person you are.
I felt well-informed about what I was getting myself into when my pee-stick turned positive. And because of this, I had a few first months of fatigued and nauseous freak-out, which included one evening of a frantic "why did you do this to me?! " accusation to Jon. As my baby grows and the time to deliver draws near, I seriously consider the world I will leave behind, and feel tinges of sorrow at the thought of saying goodbye to my current lifestyle. My moments of delight and wellings of love at a kick or an ultrasound, and our evening caresses of a growing belly fill Jon and I with a deep pleasure, unlike anything I've known--and they are accompanied by tears at the way my body is burdened, frustration at sleepless hours at night, and nervousness towards getting everything ready.
Last night, after 4 midnight hours of no sleep due to baby kicking, I finally relaxed into a bad dream. In the dream I woke up with a baby, but I had no memory of the birth, how I'd gotten to where I was, or where Jon was. I saw a scar on my belly and realized I'd had a C-section, and looked at the calendar, and saw that it was only August. But the baby was large, seemingly many weeks old. I stumbled around the dream trying to find information about what had happened but nobody knew. I felt alone, confused, and like nothing had gone to plan. When I awoke, I realized the truth of my dream: having a healthy baby is not, in fact, all that matters. I need other things to feel safe, to feel healthy, to make it through the challenges of parenthood while staying connected to myself.
This little one is already a member of our family, making their own assertions about what time they want to sleep, to exercise little fists, and will hopefully make the final call on when they want to leave the womb and be held in our arms. Our world shifts to orient towards the new life coming into the little home we've created. I remind myself I am doing all I can to prepare for the transitions ahead, and take time to self-sooth and care for my body, knowing it is OK to feel challenged and resentful at times. I am, after all, making many sacrifices for this being, who I know I will love more and more as the years go by.
The ups and down of being a mother have already begun, a journey unlike any other. Filled with holiness, and fueled by growth, I ride the waves towards the unknown.