I've never been profoundly confident. As a chubby kid, I wanted desperately to shrink. As much as I wanted to measure my success in good grades and true friends, the feeling of being overweight tethered me to a meager amount of self-esteem that stayed at a low level well into adulthood. But getting pregnant and sensing that I was fulfilling a certain destiny I had imagined for myself helped to fill my cup of confidence. There were even some pregnancy moments that proved I could handle childbirth like a champ; a vision I had never thought possible as someone suffering from low self-esteem and, thanks to my body image issues, pervasive feelings of failure.
I also realized, and rather quickly, that I can’t “win” parenthood. There have been countless times when I’ve felt like I’ve been failing as a mom. Since I work full-time, I’ve had to contend with being pulled in multiple directions and spending a ton of energy shifting priorities around to make sure there was enough of me for everything. That’s an impossible standard, though. There is never “enough.” So far, in my nine years of parenting, my biggest lesson has been in accepting that I can’t, nor should I be expected to, exhaust myself to reach some goal past “good enough.” My children are fed and clothed and housed and educated and loved. Sadly, there are so many kids who aren’t.
Feeling low comes with being human, so when I get a bump in confidence, I relish it. Here are some of the moments during my pregnancy that gave my self-esteem a boost, and proved I’d be able to handle labor and delivery (and everything that was sure to follow) like a boss:
When I Took A Spin Class On My Due Date
I still think this is the most baller thing I’ve ever done. When I got into my third trimester, it wasn’t really safe for me to do certain aerobic activities, like step and kickboxing, but working out on a stationary bike was perfect for getting my sweat on. And I swear that keeping up my gym routine allowed me to have a fairly simple labor and delivery — I got my kid out in three focused pushes with no tearing.
When I Was Commuting Via Subway…
On the last day of my pregnancy, when I was 10 days past my due date, I stood on the E train from downtown Manhattan to my Queens stop. Nobody offered me a seat. If I could deal with that, from physical and anger management standpoints (because I was seething that everyone pretended not to see this big bellied pregnant lady in front of them), I could deal with the pain and annoyance of labor.
… In The Summer
Being pregnant in the heat on a crowded train is the worst, but also a common experience for the millions of New Yorkers who experience it. That is why New York City moms, like me, are warriors and will tell you so to your face.
When I Wasn't Grossed Out By My Moving Belly
In my third trimester my baby’s limbs were totally visible when they pushed against my stomach from the inside and as my daughter shifted in my uterus. That freaked my husband out. He is a huge horror movie fan and can watch blood and guts without blinking (which I can’t), and yet he couldn’t handle watching this little fetus he helped create. I thought it was cool.
When I Stayed Chill During Amniocentesis
I opted to get amniocentesis, since I was going to be of “advanced maternal age” at the time of my child’s birth (though I was a spry 34-year-old woman at the time of the test, which meant that my insurance wouldn’t fully cover it — oh the double standard of being too young but also too old). The room is dark. Everyone is whispering. That needle is gigantic. It’s basically a scene from a low-budget horror movie. But I kept my sh*t together and everything was fine. If I was able to stay calm and carry on in those conditions, I knew I could handle whatever labor and delivery threw my way.
When I Stood For The Entirety Of My High School Reunion When I Was 39 Weeks Along
My stamina game was strong when I was pregnant, which assured me that if I was looking at a protracted labor, I could probably deal with it just fine. Luckily, labor didn’t last too long for me. I was in the hospital overnight, getting induced, and didn’t start contracting in earnest until about 10 hours before my baby was born, so I know many women have a much longer laboring period. But being able to mingle with my old high school friends for several hours on my feet proved I was going to be in pretty good shape to withstand labor.
When I Threw Shade At Anyone Who Called Me “Mama”
Unless you are my child, you should not address me as “Mama.” I hated it when I was pregnant, and still do, nine years postpartum. I would make it very clear to whomever casually addressed me as such while I was pregnant that I was not having it. My stink eye was on point.
When I Had To Walk Up Six Flights Of Stairs Because The Elevator Was Out
When I was pregnant, we lived on the top floor of a 100-unit apartment building. And, of course, the elevator was never out of service until I was extremely pregnant. What choice did I have but to walk up (and down, and up again the next day) those damn stairs to get home? This proves that I was capable of dealing with, and overcoming (albeit while spewing a lot of curse words) pretty much any obstacle my body encountered.
When I Had To Power Through Sleepless Nights
Being in labor, I realized that all those nights I’d lie awake, unable to settle into a comfortable position with my huge belly and/or the need to pee every hour on the hour, was training for this day. If I had glided through pregnancy in comfort, the shock of pain and other annoying feelings during childbirth would probably be too much.
When All I Could Do Was Wait
I waited to see that second blue line on the pee stick. I waited for every prenatal check-up, test result, and insurance adjustment when I was mistakenly billed for all those things. I was an expert in waiting, so on the day of my child’s birth — having been induced, and then given an epidural, and then being prone in a hospital bed for the time to be right to push — I knew I could handle it. It was the final countdown, but all good things come to those who wait.