Did you plan your pregnancy?
My son was unintended. I won’t say unplanned because I had always planned to have children. Always imagined being a mother. I had white picket fence aspirations where I was married to the doppelganger of George Clooney. I envisioned celebrations and joy when I found out I was expecting my first child.
Instead I felt numb, buzzing panic. What am I going to do?! The prevailing emotions I recall from those first few months are fear, confusion and being utterly overwhelmed.
I had been with Leo’s dad a short time. We were barely at the point of considering a mini break, let alone having a child. I was told courtesy of PCOS that conception would likely impossible. My doctor said the discomfort and sickness was likely another cyst. Pumped me full of goodness-knows-what. Visiting my mum a week later I ended up ringing my doctor in agony. Google told me it was death or rabies. Low and behold a scan in A&E showed my cyst had a heartbeat.
How did you feel?
I don’t remember much of being pregnant. I have bitter regrets that I cannot look back and feel fond memories of that time. I have pictures where I am smiling and think I was happy. Or was trying so hard I appeared to be.
My poor grandparents being traditional types were at first, in earnest, horrified and disappointed. I remember my grandad on the phone saying he did not want to talk to me. If any moment ever broke my heart it was that. But my family and friends stuck by me. Have been so generous with their love, time and ensuring little man could have everything he possibly wants in the world.
No one ever asks if you are afraid.
I would lie awake in the night thinking, who is this person and what am I going to do with him?
When my son was born I didn’t feel an all-consuming magical mummy bond. It may be mythical crap. I talked to him in my tummy, sung to him, picked beautiful outfits and folded them in neat square piles.
Health care providers can miss opportunities to learn more about the pregnant woman’s feelings about her pregnancy.
Looking back I know I was overwhelmed, I don’t think I quite realised I was having a baby till they put him in my arms and he had my scrunched up pout. Well that was ten minutes after he was born, when they first tried to hand him to me I hid in my hands and politely said, no thank you. I was in utter shock.
Ten minutes later I could not take my eyes off his little face.
I remember feeling surprise at the critical undertone of society’s attitude towards single women…even in 2011 when public stoning’s should be a thing of the past. Leo’s dad and I separated months after he was born.
At baby groups I would dread the question, ‘so where’s daddy today?’ Then the awkward pause and swift change of subject. I was met with well-meant comments such as, ‘we are so sad it happened for you in this way’, so I became sad. People tenderly told me how they ‘wanted better for me.’ So I thought I wanted better to, but who knows what would have been better.
Why I am grateful.
I have anxiously and proudly watched a dear friend drag herself bravely, exhaustingly through pregnancy with hyperemesis. Others have gone through complex conceptions involved charting cycles, planning for a baby mixed with excitement and restless concern. I missed out on that strain, the pressure of trying and waiting.
I am eternally grateful I do not have to worry about what life without a child would look like.
Pregnancy is deeply personal, it’s natural to feel any number of emotions at any time, don’t feel guilty if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Today I have a beautiful, obstinate blue eyed terror, having dragged myself though an honestly hard time of parenting. I would not go back and change a thing. I feel like I survived a trek up Everest. Got bruised and battered on the way up but I can now sit and have a glass of bourbon in the sun.
I cannot yet shake the first time residual hardships to want to have another child, maybe someday I will feel safe with the idea. I will throw something large and heavy at you if you ask me when Leo will be getting a sibling. LARGE AND HEAVY.
How did you find out you were pregnant, were your children planned or unplanned?