Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

The Tiny Thing My Mom Did For Me While I Was TTC That Made All The Difference

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When I first started trying to conceive, I didn't tell anyone. I was 21 years old, and still a semester away from graduating college. Deep down, I think I knew that my decision to try to get pregnant at this time in my life didn't logically make sense. However, as the first not-really-trying-but-not-not-trying month came to a close, I found myself two days late for my period while at my mother's house. I was visiting her without my husband, I was going out of my mind over the possibility that I could be pregnant. I hadn't planned on telling my mom I was trying to conceive, but now that I needed a pregnancy test (and some emotional support as I took it), it seemed like as good a time as any.

I sat her down and told her I had something to tell her, but the words wouldn't come. I was so afraid of what she'd say. I was terrified that she would tell me I wasn't ready, that I was wrong to be trying to conceive. My eye began twitching uncontrollably, yet I still couldn't say it out loud. Finally, I blurted out that I might be pregnant because I was trying to get pregnant, and we both started laughing and crying at the same time. At that point, my mom was probably relieved. By the way I was acting, she'd probably assumed that I was addicted to drugs, or that my marriage was coming to an end.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Contrary to what I expected, my mom told me she was excited for me. Then she asked me why I had been acting so weird. "I don't know," I said. "I thought you might be mad."

"So are you going to keep trying?" she asked.
I told her I was. I braced myself for a flood of advice and warnings that I should wait.

We drove to the drugstore to get a pack of pregnancy tests, which I took all at once. All of them were negative. My mom was initially disappointed, but then she told me she was relieved. Had I been pregnant, I would have given birth a month before my college graduation, and I would've been taking finals while raising a newborn. I felt confident I could make it work, but my mother (rightly) was not so sure.

"So are you going to keep trying?" she asked.

I told her I was. I braced myself for a flood of advice and warnings that I should wait. Instead, she simply asked if next month would put my due date outside of graduation, and I told her it would. She was satisfied with that, and told me that she was excited for me.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I was overcome with relief. The fact that I had my mom's support during what was otherwise a super lonely and isolating time meant the world to me. Over the next few weeks, I didn't call to give her ovulation updates or anything, but knowing that I could call her with news of a pregnancy and be met with unwavering support meant so much to me.

It seems like such a small thing, but the fact that my mom trusted me to make this decision on my own gave me the confidence I needed to get through my pregnancy.

But it wasn't just my mom's support that meant so much to me. It was how she expressed it. She didn't come at me with a barrage of unsolicited advice. She didn't tell me that maybe I should wait until after college, and she didn't question my motives. (She knew me well enough to know that once I had made up my stubborn mind about something, it was basically set in stone.) She let my decision stand without judgement — and when I did become pregnant the next month, she continued to let my decisions be mine, not swooping in to treat me like a child.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I didn't realize it at the time, but now that I'm a mother myself, I cannot imagine how hard it was for her to do this for me. I was only a few years out of her home, and I was still in so many ways a child (though no one could have convinced me of that). I am sure that although she was trying to seem accepting and non-judgmental, she must have wanted to advise me to wait, especially because she had once been a young mother herself. Yet she chose not to.

Instead, she chose to give me her support, so I could trust myself as I entered motherhood. She bolstered my faith that I would be good at parenting and that I was ready to become a mom, whether or not that was true. It seems like such a small thing, but the fact that my mom trusted me to make this decision on my own gave me the confidence I needed to get through my pregnancy, and that confidence lasted well beyond the birth of my first child. In retrospect, I am so grateful for how she supported me.