For the first part of my adult life, I worked as a middle and high school teacher in Boston. I spent my days talking to teenagers about novels and poetry, and my afternoons in rehearsal for whatever play or musical I was directing at the time. I have good memories of my job, but somewhere along the line, I started to realize that what made me happiest wasn’t teaching: it was writing.
So I decided to quit my job to become a full-time freelancer. And then, literally a day after I left my job, I found out I was pregnant.
For a while, writing was a solid side hustle, a hobby that brought me both joy and extra income. Eventually, however, I started writing so much that it became akin to a second job. And while the notion of changing careers was undoubtedly terrifying, I chose to take the plunge. The decision to leave my teaching job wasn't easy, but after making several pro/con lists, talking to my husband, and realizing that I was totally burning the candles at both ends, it seemed like the logical solution.
The day I quit, I had a vision of what the next few months of my life would be like. I looked forward to setting up my workspace at home, filling it with kitschy rose gold office supplies and Polaroids pinned to the walls. I imagined working long hours and then meeting up with friends for drinks after a day of writing and editing.
I had barely packed up my office at school, turned in my work laptop, and said goodbye to my coworkers before I was staring down at a positive pregnancy test.
I had an idea of who I would be as a full-time writer, someone who was different than who I was as a teacher. I imagined that I would feel more free, more open, and just more like who I really was. For all intents and purposes, I had begun to feel like I was living a double-life, and I couldn’t wait to freely embrace what felt like the truest version of myself.
I had barely packed up my office at school, turned in my work laptop, and said goodbye to my coworkers before I was staring down at a positive pregnancy test. My husband and I had been trying for a few months, so it wasn’t exactly a “surprise,” but the timing was certainly not ideal. And, if I’m being completely honest, I had a hard time dealing with it – at first.
When I learned that I was pregnant, I initially felt as though I had been cheated out of the next chapter of my life. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a meltdown or two, complete with a lot of tears and dramatic confessions of "I don't know if I can do this." I had dreamed of being a full-time writer and throwing myself into this career to see where it would lead me. And although I couldn’t fully explain why, I felt an inexplicable loss – like there was some alternative universe I had tasted for a second, only to never get it back again. With so many emotional and lifestyle changes, it was almost as though I didn't have the mental bandwidth to think about becoming both a writer and an expectant mother at the same time.
Life doesn’t stop just because I’m going to have a baby. Yes, things will change, and I will change. But who I am at my core, the things I love, the things that make me feel like me – those things will always be there.
That home office I’d been dreaming of will eventually be turned into a nursery. On one side of the room is my desk. The opposite wall contains shelves with neatly folded onesies, adjacent to boxes of unassembled furniture. The visual is essentially a metaphor for my entire existence at the moment – I’m a full-time writer, and I’m also going to be a mom. What I’ve learned, however, is that those things are not mutually exclusive.
What I’ve come to understand is that life doesn’t stop just because I’m going to have a baby. Yes, things will change, and I will change. But who I am at my core, the things I love, the things that make me feel like me – those things will always be there, if I want them to be.
Ultimately, it’s up to me to decide what my life looks like, what it feels like, and what shape it takes.
Moreover, I’ve realized that getting hung up on timing is pointless. We can plan all we want for things to happen at the “right” time, but at the end of the day, so much of life is out of our control. What we can control is what we do with the time that we’re given, even – and especially – when life offers unexpected plot twists.
In the months that have passed since I first held that positive pregnancy test, I’ve started to focus on the good things about the timing of my pregnancy. For starters, I’m not on my feet for eight hours anymore. I didn’t have to deal with first trimester nausea while also telling teenagers to stop flipping water bottles. I’m always steps away from a kitchen filled with snacks. Because I work from home, I can spend every day wearing leggings and comfy shirts, and my cat is nearby for snuggles when I’m feeling emotional.
But more importantly, I’ve come to realize that my identity is more than only one thing. I’m not “just” going to be a mother, in the way that I was never “just” a teacher. My career is important to me, and writing is a huge part of who I am. My career might look a little different in a few months, but I won’t lose that part of myself completely. Ultimately, it’s up to me to decide what my life looks like, what it feels like, and what shape it takes. So maybe this chapter didn’t fit my vision of the Pinterest-perfect life of a writer. But it’s my chapter, and it’s uniquely beautiful all on its own.