Motherhood isn't exactly the scary, messy, mysterious concept that conventional narratives make it out to be (well, OK, it is but that's not all it is). The things that happen to your body during pregnancy are weird and scary enough without the added stigma of the terrifying portrayal of labor and delivery displayed on our TVs, and exclusively focusing on those things takes away from all the beautiful and badass and downright cool things that happen during pregnancy. The same is true beyond birth, when you get to life with kids, as a mom.
There are no shortage of horror stories out there pertaining to the mom life. You don't have to look far to find something about motherhood that's blown out of proportion enough to terrify someone that's about to embark on their own maternal journey. But everyone's story is different, and often what is awful for one person may be perfectly tolerable or even normal to another. Each and every woman who becomes a mother has her own unique story, but there are definitely some ties that inevitably bind us all.
We all worry and question and lose sleep over the looming questions regarding this complex journey we're on. We all read the books and the blogs, and do our best to prepare for the road that's ahead. It can be scary, yes, but often the best place to find solace in your uncertainty is by confiding in someone who has been there before.
So, for all you soon-to-be mom-faces out there (or those of us who have been at it for a while but could never use enough reassurance), the 14 women below will explain some of the things that scared them the most about motherhood. (And as it usually goes, it turns out that the things that they feared turned out to be not so terrifying after all.)
The Changes To Their Body
"You see all these pictures of celebrity moms [who] are wearing their bikinis just a couple of months after they had their baby, and they literally look like they were never even pregnant. I live in my swimsuit and sundresses when it's warm, and I make it a point to keep fit. I was afraid that I just wouldn't feel comfortable in my own skin after my pregnancy transformed my body. After I had my daughter my body wasn't even recognizable to me and for a while that bothered me, probably more than it should have. But I look at her and know that she needs an example, and over time I've warmed up to the changes. I love my body now and the marks that pregnancy left on it just tell the story of how I met my daughter. I'm proud of that. And I bought better bras — that definitely helped." – Christy, 30
I bought better bras — that definitely helped.
"I've been fit my entire life, but my pregnancy was really, really hard on my body. I was on bed rest for over two months. I gained [too] much weight and I was so swollen, then all of a sudden it's like my boobs went through puberty again. I felt like a giant marshmellow. After I had my daughter I was determined to get back into shape. It took some time and my body still doesn't look the way it used to, but I am actually pretty fond of my new curves ... I love my body now more than I ever have." – Rachel, 29
The Sleepless Nights
"I'm not a morning person and if I don't get enough sleep my fiancé calls me the Cracken. All I ever remembered new moms talking about was how tired they were, and I just knew that I was going to need reinforcements for early morning feedings. I'll be honest, it took some getting used to and I was probably a horrible person while my body adjusted to not getting any sleep, but once it did it, I felt like Super Woman." – Laine, 27
The Relationship With Their Partner
"I've seen some of my friends' relationships fall apart after having kids. They were always so tired and so stressed, and every time I would ask them how things were going, they really never had anything good to say. It scared me so much to think of my marriage falling apart once we had our first son. I honestly think kids really can make or break a couple. For us, it made us stronger. I'm so thankful that we got through the rough patches together. It wasn't easy and there were days when we definitely wanted to walk out, but we didn't. We're still here and we're better than ever." – Amy, 29
For us, it made us stronger. I'm so thankful that we got through the rough patches together.
"We didn't plan on getting pregnant, and really weren't sure of what our future as a couple looked like. We hadn't even been a couple that long when we found out I was pregnant. I was definitely scared. I mentally prepared myself to go it alone and started trying to figure out what the future looked like for my child and myself mainly because I didn't want to be disappointed in being left behind. So many guys just up and leave when the panic hits, but not mine. Our daughter is five now and two years ago she was the flower girl in our wedding. Maybe we did it "backwards" but it worked for us." – Shenelle, 29
How Having Kids Would Impact Their Career
"My husband and I didn't have much money saved when we found out we were pregnant. I had some vacation time at work, and was eligible for short term disability pay, but the financial stress really got to me. We could probably live off of my husband's income, but it would be tight. Looking back, I'm thankful that pregnancy lasts as long as it does. We had plenty of time to prepare and plan my maternity leave, and returning to work went a lot more smoothly than I thought it would." – Lindsey, 32
"Money seems to always stress me out. Childcare is expensive and I don't make a ton of money. Thankfully, I was able to work something out with my boss that allowed me to come in a little later and work from home some. Childcare ended up not being as big of an issue as I thought, and I got some of that money back on my taxes." – Jessica, 30
Whether Or Not They Would Be Good Mothers
"I didn't have a great example of a mother growing up so I just assumed that figuring out my role as a mother would be impossible and awkward. It was probably awkward but I think every woman has this maternal instinct that kicks in when their babies are born. I might not have known the specifics but I figured everything out with a lot more ease than I thought I would." – Hope, 31
I panicked. I was like 'Wait, am I really about to be a mom? Oh crap!' But I figured it out just like every woman eventually does.
"I've never even had a puppy or a plant, so when I unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant I was terrified that I would accidentally kill my baby. When she was born I was still terrified but I feel like I knew that I could protect her and that I would do whatever I had to do to keep her safe. She's happy and healthy, and she's pretty much my best friend now." – Megan, 29
"I feel like being a mom is such a sacred role that shouldn't be taken lightly. I was pretty laid back throughout my whole pregnancy until the week before I delivered my son. Then I panicked. I was like 'Wait, am I really about to be a mom? Oh crap!' But I figured it out just like every woman eventually does. I think it's natural to worry." – Anna, 28
How Having A Kid Would Change Their Social Life
"I'm a social person. I love my friends and I love to travel, so I was honestly a little bummed when I thought about all the fun I assumed I wouldn't be having after I had my daughter. But getting out of the house really helped with my postpartum depression, so I made it a point to get out of the house every day. With a little practice and planning, my daughter and I have mastered brunch, and I get out a lot more than I ever thought I would." – Morgan, 26
I thought that my friends would abandon me for bars and beach trips, and that I would just be left behind. But after I had my daughter I realized that she was important to my friends too.
"I was so afraid that I would lose all sight of myself and the things that I loved after becoming a mom for the first time. I thought that my friends would abandon me for bars and beach trips, and that I would just be left behind. But after I had my daughter I realized that she was important to my friends too. Even though I'm not out at the bars or on spring break anymore, my friends and I still make time for each other and that often includes events that my daughter can join us on." – Amber, 28
Leaving Their Children In The Care Of Others
"I was worried that I would lose it when I dropped my son off at daycare for the first time. And I did, but once I figured out a new routine the drop offs got easier and he eventually forgot that I was even leaving him." – Amanda, 28
"It's so hard to trust someone, even your own family, with your new, fragile baby. I was so terrified to leave my daughter with my in-laws for the first time when she was three months old, but the first night away from my her ended up being easier than I thought. About an hour after we dropped her off, my anxiety had eased up and I was able to enjoy not being needed for a night. I guess my husband and I needed the break more than we realized." – Tiffany, 30