The air outside today is thick with summer. It’s the time of year when my sunglasses, which stay in my car, burn my face when I put them on. The AC works in overtime and still the sweat slides down my back. Dixie (our dog) lounges around, staying close to the vent. It’s even too hot for her!
It’s farmer’s market season, which, for me, is summer’s saving grace. Fresh fruits and veggies (and gnats…please tell me other people have this problem in the summer too) fill our kitchen. Every year after the 4th of July I find myself growing tired with summer, and it’s this time of the year that I feel passes the most slowly. Heat wave after heat wave, until you’re begging for fall to come.
The anticipation of a new season is even more profound to me this year. Maybe by the time fall rolls around I’ll be showing. And then as slowly as summer seems to crawl by, fall quickly turns to winter and suddenly it’s a new year. And in that new year, I’ll become a mom.
These first few months of pregnancy have been a whirlwind. My mind won’t seem to calm. I’ve heard people describe parenthood as “living with your heart outside of your body.” For all the nights I lie awake worrying about my parents and two younger siblings, I cannot imagine the worry I will feel for the tiny, helpless human who is mine. It overwhelms me when I dwell on it.
Terrified. That’s an accurate way to describe how I have felt since seeing those two pink lines. There’s been joy too. Tears. Happiness. But I would be lying if I didn’t say what I have mostly felt is fear.
Fear that I might lose this one too. And fear that I won’t. Fear for everything that could go wrong in the nine months spent growing a human. And fear for everything that could go right. Fear for all of my own faults and shortfalls. And how those will shape me as a parent. Before he/she is even big enough to make my stomach stick out, I am already worried for the teenage years when my child will say he/she hates me. And how that already feels like a punch in the stomach.
Fear that I might lose myself. Will I still be me after a baby changes everything I thought I knew about the world? Will I ever have time for myself again? Will I still have my own goals, or will all my life’s ambitions become focused on my child?
By making this deliberate and very much desired choice to become a mom, am I signing away my dreams of traveling the world? Will I ever visit Europe?
Will I ever like my body again? Or does pregnancy just cement the fact that your body is not necessarily something you can control? I feel ashamed and embarrassed to admit this (on the Internet no less), but I believe honesty is important in writing. I already do not like the way I look. In anything. In any mirror. I feel limited in what I can do physically (both real limits from my doctor and my own limits of fatigue and nausea and heavier breathing than normal). I feel like the active lifestyle I have worked for is slipping away. Will I even be able to run a mile when this is over?
Will I ever see my friends again? Sure, they will love the baby. They say they won’t mind the baby coming along to social gatherings. But when it is here, and it is crying and it is quite literally ruining the party, will they feel the same way? I am the first in my close circle of friends, and many of them are years away from having children themselves. I am the first, and well ahead, of my siblings having children (if they even decide to), and yet I can’t help but feel as though I chose the wrong time. Having cousins my age and my siblings’ ages has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. Am I robbing my child of that because I insisted on my own timeline?
I weighed all of these questions heavily before deciding to get pregnant. I considered my lifestyle, my social circle, what I was willing to give up and what I wasn’t. I decided that now was the time, and I was confident I felt comfortable making those sacrifices. And then it was here, it was happening, it was real and there was no going back. And suddenly I felt suffocated by the weight of responsibility coming my way and I began to panic. In fact, a couple weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I cried to my husband that I was going to lose all my friends. Sure, maybe hormones were at play. But those feelings were also very real.
It’s a range of emotions I have never felt before. From inexplainable joy one minute to overwhelming panic the next. I know this is just the beginning. I imagine joy and fear are felt multiple times a day as a parent.
Mixed in with the fear is also a heavy dose of gratitude. Given what I went through to get here (and the even greater struggles many couples face in the journey to parenthood), I do not take lightly for a second the incredible gift I have been given. I think that is why I am so scared. Because I know what I have been given is sacred. And I must do everything in my power to provide for it, shelter it, give it happiness and help it grow. And good god. That, my friends, is simply terrifying.
By my side through all of this and everything to come is my calm and unshaken husband. As different from me as any other human could be. I fell in love with him and married him because I knew he would be an incredible father. I am lucky to get to do life with him. And I am lucky a million times over to get to parent with him. For all the anxiousness pulsing through my body, imagining him being a dad makes me giddy. It makes me want to skip all of this and wake up tomorrow in January.
I went to my first prenatal (or any) yoga class this week, and I am so very glad I did. It definitely calmed me. Toward the end of class as we sat meditating, the yoga instructor called us into gratitude. For this time in our lives. For the short period of time we are blessed with having our children so close.
And I finally felt like I could do this. And I said to myself, “It’s just you and me baby. We’re in this together.” And I felt a calmness and a sense of peace. I am ready and I am going to be fine.
In the long, thick, sticky days of summer I am preparing myself. In the evenings that stretch into night with their burnt orange sunsets and fireflies. In between the burning hot sunglasses and hard-working AC units, I am preparing my heart and my mind to become what I believe is my calling in this world.