I had spent my entire adult life trying not to get pregnant… until my partner and I decided it was as good as time as any to start trying to conceive. Luckily (or unluckily, since the “trying” part is pretty enjoyable), it took us just one cycle off my birth control pills for us to get me pregnant. And the moment I found out I was pregnant my mind changed about so many things. It was kind of a wake-up call, as if my body was telling me, “OK, you’re a grown-up now, or at least you have to officially pretend to be one, if you’re going to take on the responsibility of raising another human being.” It was… a lot.
One of the things I wrestled with, mentally, was what kind of parent I wanted to be. My partner and I both considered ourselves decent people, undoubtedly because our parents had raised us to be that way. But there were a lot of things about parenting in our folks’ generation that we didn’t agree with (corporal punishment, for one). I had always imagined myself as the “cool mom,” the one whose kids weren’t embarrassed by what I did or said or wore. Now, as I started actively growing a baby inside my body, being “cool” seemed much less important than being patient and reliable and even, much to surprise, firm about rules. I wanted our kid to feel secure and safe and loved, and while you can be cool in your personality, I realized that the parenting style I was going to subscribe to was derived from being a trustworthy grown-up in my child’s life, more than a fun friend.
Here are some more things I changed my mind about the moment I discovered I was pregnant, because, sure, we can all have a plan, but pregnancy can certainly change that plan in an variety of ways, and sometimes all at once.
At the start of my pregnancy, I immediately shifted my attention to those friends of mine who were already parents. Since I was consumed with all things baby, I wanted to extract all the precious parenting info from their minds. But as I came to find out, the best friends I could ask for where there for me regardless of their own parental status. Just because you’re a mom friend doesn’t mean you are the perfect friend to field all my worries, hopes, and insecurities.
I love sushi (like a lot) but I knew that certain raw fish consumption wasn’t recommended during pregnancy. So I just abstained from my favorite all-time cuisine. I tried to switch to cooked Japanese food, but I would just look longingly at my dinner companion’s eel roll and die a little inside. It was the biggest effort of willpower I’ve ever made, and I even did it again when I had my second baby. That’s how much I love my kids.
Your View On Alcohol
I am an all-or-nothing person and I don’t like taking risks. I gave up drinking all alcoholic beverages upon learning I was pregnant. In fact, I stopped drinking when we were trying to conceive, so I didn’t have to worry about having any alcohol in my system, even before my egg was fertilized. I understand that other moms-to-be have different viewpoints on alcohol consumption, but my comfort level was such that I could give up drinking while pregnant and not feel like I was missing anything.
How You Spend Your Time
Being pregnant means you have a finite amount of time to prepare for parenthood. The clock starts ticking as soon as that second line appears on that over-the-counter pee stick. I didn’t want to waste a moment, my friends. I got all the books, trolled all the websites, and studied for motherhood like my life, and my baby's life, depended on it.
Too much information is not a good thing, though, and in my experience. I worried unnecessarily about so many things, just because I was trying to be a good student. But, as I’ve been learning over these nine years of motherhood, parenting is a lot about trial and error and trusting your gut.
Knowing I was about to become someone’s mother, I was practically traumatized when faced with even fictional depictions of horrible things. Being pregnant, and then having a baby, made it so difficult to watch thrillers, which made things challenging around Halloween.
… Or Any Movie With Children In Peril
I just couldn’t take reading or watching anything about kids being in danger once I became pregnant. That hasn’t changed, almost a decade later. Our kids have been reading the Harry Potter series, so we’ve been showing them the corresponding movies as they complete the books. But those are hard to watch, as a mom. I mean, people want to kill those kids in those stories. I can’t deal.
Babies You Pass On The Street
I never paid much attention to kids before I was actively trying to bring some into the world. When I became pregnant, though, I practically studied infants on the street as they were pushed in their strollers. I not-so-subtly examined the make and model of their transports, the selection of chew toys hanging from their canopies, and even the speed at which they were being pushed. I gazed into the faces of these new moms (cautiously, from across the street, and not at all like a stalker), trying to read their expressions to pry into their psyches. What did they know about motherhood, and how could I learn it, without being a weirdo and marching over to interrogate them?
When that pregnancy test turned positive, I just looked down at my stomach in awe. Something remarkable was taking place in there. I couldn’t see it and I couldn’t feel it, so I just tried to tap into the energy behind my belly button. I was quietly amazed, holding a secret in the deepest part of me, and sharing that secret with my husband when I stepped out of the bathroom on that day has been one of the highlights of parenthood, so far.
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