There are people in the world who know, early on, that they want to experience pregnancy and parenthood. I was not one of those people. I spent my 20s partying and experimenting and traveling and running from my responsibilities. My motto was "live it up" and enjoy the spontaneity of life, and kids wouldn't have allowed me to follow my motto. I did eventually become a mom, but I have to be honest and admit that sometimes I think getting pregnant was a mistake.
There’s this idea that all moms, regardless of their circumstances, view motherhood as the most important part of their lives. After all, why would anyone have a kid if they didn't really want them, and the responsibility of raising them, right? Well, I believe motherhood is way more complex than that. There are often various forces at work behind the decision to ultimately become a mom. Sometimes you get pregnant without intending to, sometimes you want an abortion but can’t access one safely and affordably, and sometimes you're ambiguous about the entire process.
I fell into the latter category. While I wasn't forced into pregnancy by anti-choice legislation or other insidious circumstances that strip away bodily autonomy, I felt kind of "eh" about the entire situation. I figured I would see how it played out, and decided to just go with the flow.
Of course, my feelings about pregnancy and motherhood aren't something I can openly discuss. I know the pressure put on women to become moms, on soon-to-be moms to feel nothing but happy about their situation, and on new moms to love every single moment — even if those moments are exhausting, painful, or detrimental to their mental health. For example, when my family found out I was pregnant they were nothing but excited and wasted no time in starting to plan my future baby shower. Meanwhile, I was still on the fence about whether I wanted my life to change that drastically and permanently.
It’s not that I don’t love my child, or that I haven’t learned to appreciate the things motherhood has given me and the things it has taken away. My son is amazing in every aspect of the word. He teaches me new things each and every day, makes me smile every morning and laugh even when I’m feeling grumpy, and he lets me play with him and occupy his ever-changing, creative, exciting little world. He loves me, and he tells me he loves me every single day. I am a better person because of him, and I know I love more as a result of his presence in my life.
Being honest about the complexities of motherhood and how so many juxtaposing emotions and situations can make you feel at any given time doesn't make me, or anyone else, a bad mom or a selfish mom. It just makes me a mom.
But that doesn’t I don't experience moments when I second-guess my decision to be a mother. Pregnancy and childbirth did a number on me — physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s not about the stretch marks or the fact that my feet are now one shoe size bigger, either. Since pregnancy my hormone issues have progressed, causing a slew of issues from hair loss to fatigue. I have also endured the trauma of losing my first baby to premature birth, and nearly losing my second during another traumatic, painful labor and delivery. Every single day I carry grief and a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with me, and I know that, to a certain extent, that will never change.
I am not the same person I once was. In fact, I will never be that person again. And if I had known how pregnancy, labor, delivery, loss, postpartum, and motherhood would have changed me, well, I can't say I wouldn't have taken a long, extended pause when I held that positive pregnancy test in my hands.
I know there are people out there who are pregnant right now and wondering if they've made a terrible mistake. I know there are people out there who are pregnant, right now, but don't want to be. I know that pregnancy can be a lonely experience, and that it's not always an experience someone is thrilled to have. I know that every parent has had a moment, or more, of hesitation... and I think that is perfectly normal. The problem is we don't talk about these complex feelings as if they are normal, so mothers like me are left feeling alone, isolated, and ashamed.
Just like at the beginning of this journey, more often than not I find myself unsure of what the future holds and how I would feel about the various outcomes of my potential decisions. And. That. Is. OK.
As a mother I cannot, and will not, be happy all the time. Motherhood is just another part of life, and sometimes even the most profound parts of life can be garbage. Sometimes they can suck. Sometimes they are't enjoyable. And sometimes they're so overwhelming that they leave you contemplating a plethora of life decisions. But that doesn't make those moments any less than. Instead, it makes the person experiencing them a human being and it makes life, well, life. Being honest about the complexities of motherhood and how so many juxtaposing emotions and situations can make you feel at any given time doesn't make me, or anyone else, a bad mom or a selfish mom. It just makes me a mom.
Sometimes I think I want another child, but if I do decide to expand my family I believe, for now, that I will adopt. Then again, I am more than happy raising one living child and giving him all of my love and support. Just like at the beginning of this journey, more often than not I find myself unsure of what the future holds and how I would feel about the various outcomes of my potential decisions. And. That. Is. OK.
Because what I do know is that even when my decisions have felt like mistakes, and even when the changes I've endured feel like too much and life feels too overwhelming, I can always look at my true love — my son —and find solace in the fact that even when I'm sitting in the most intense feelings of insecurity and uncertainty, I will always have him.