The Horrifying Excitement of Pregnancy
When I became pregnant with my first child, Freddy, I was scared. I had spent my whole life avoiding the two pink lines on at-home pregnancy tests, so intentionally trying to get myself pregnant felt almost like I was breaking some kind of rule. My husband cried tears of joy when we found out and my family squealed, but I was wide-eyed and petrified!
We had gone through fertility treatment, so it wasn’t like it was some kind of huge surprise! In fact, I had waited exactly seven days from my intrauterine insemination to take the test just like the nurses instructed. I remember feeling a huge wave of guilt and confusion that I wasn’t jumping for joy the moment I found out. I had put my body through extensive poking, prodding, and hormonal torture to achieve this result, so why didn’t it feel like some huge victory?
As a psychologist, I would tell my patients that this feeling is completely normal. Change is scary, and working towards something so monumental and life-changing would cause anyone to be afraid. Even though pregnancy and birth are natural processes, they do not feel natural the first time. I would say, maybe I had been so focused on the goal of becoming pregnant, that I hadn’t allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to actually be pregnant. As a mental health professional, I know all of these things. As a new mother-to-be, I felt like a fish out of water.
Here is what me, the whole me, mother, wife, woman, career-focused, me, thinks. Emotions are free-thinkers that can’t be controlled. It is funny to phrase it that way because emotions don’t think at all. There’s an action and an emotional reaction. The thinking part comes later. Why judge ourselves for automatic reactions that are built-in and a part of who we are. Emotions reflect our insecurities, fears, hopes, and desires. Think of them like those bright reflectors bike riders wear to get the attention of passing cars. These reflectors/emotions alert us to their existence and like cars, we should take notice, adjust, and then pass by.
You might be thinking, ok sure, but what is your point? My point is this. Pregnancy, birth, parenthood, and basic existence is a mystifying and overwhelming experience. Allow yourself to react with whatever emotions arise without judgment because emotions are harmless and innocent responses to the crazy world around you. The way you act and cope with these emotions is what truly matters. Freddy is now 21 months old and I love him more than I could have ever thought possible. As you take on this new adventure of motherhood, allow the emotions to wash over you and pass by like bikers on the road, waves in the ocean, or rain during a thunderstorm.